Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cellar report: 1998 Roger Sabon Chateauneuf du Pape "Les Olivets"

This is what I'm talking about! I mean, what's the point of having all that bottled grape-juice-for-adults in the basement if you don't pull something up that knocks not only your socks off, but those lucky friends who get to share? Such was the case last night when we had friends over for a perfectly grilled leg of lamb, crusty outside with a rosemary, garlic, thyme and olive oil marinade (in fact, check back for the next three days and I'll lay out a whole dinner party that will absolutely rock your dinner tables!). It had finally cooled off enough outside to get my head around some red wine, I was in a Rhone-ish mood and I knew we needed something intense, but not so over the top that it kills the lamb. The lamb was a pretty straightforward preparation, so a little subtlety and finesse within the intensity was the ticket. I'd had this bottle of 1998 Roger Sabon Chateauneuf du Pape resting comfortably downstairs for years, and I always loves me some Rhone Valley goodness, so the time seemed right.

I'll start at the end of the bottle, because as happens so often, just when you get to the last drops is when the wine is showing its best. Although up to that moment it was tasting pretty fucking amazing. I ideally should have decanted it about 30-45 minutes ahead of time. A blend of 80% grenache, 10% syrah, and 10% cinsault off of 65+ year old vines, this was a classic. Great, still youthful color when poured, aromas of cherry, earth, meat, stones, spring blossoms, and spice rolled out of the glass. Once again I am just amazed at how many different flavors and sensations that a few little grapes can give. On the palate it was full, with all those aromas echoed and intensified. Really rich and ripe, with still young tannins carrying this super complete red on through to a delicious, lingering finish. Awesome, crazy juice. And then over the next 45 minutes it just got better....and better...and better. I love my friends, but it was all I could do not to grab the decanter, dump the rest in my glass and yell "It's all mine, dammit!!" But sharing is caring, there was much lamby meatiness to get through, and besides we had plenty of other social lubricant on hand, so a crass display of self-absorption would be a bit unseemly, don't ya think? A great bottle, and the 1998 Chateauneufs seem to be just coming into their own right now, and this gem could easily have another 5-10 years in it. Sadly it was my last bottle of Sabon (sigh)...............

The Sabon cellars (photo from http://www.chateauneuf.dk/en/cdpen55.htm)

1 comment:

Norm Schoen said...

Damn! I love CDP. My ex-wife actually Bogarted the final third of a nice bottle of Cote Rotie...the only time I ever saw her get physically possessive with a bottle of wine