We had a blackout here today in heavy winds and it went on so long we abandoned the regular evening plans and decided to drink red wine to warm up. (Heavy wind=cold in this situation.) This was the last of two bottles I’d stored over the years; from here on in, when it comes to 1998, it’s Gigondas and (mainly) Châteauneuf du Pape all the way. While my tasting of the other bottle from about a year ago suggested that this wine still had a few years left, the cork on this particular bottle was soaked through so just as well we opened it. Fortunately no apparent damage. Fruit appeared muted on initial opening, more about some raisins and spice and leathery earth. But there was a pleasantly bright attack, and for all the lack of primary elements, the wine was clearly cultured, proving extremely well-balanced, rounded and succulent on the palate, with some dusty tannins lightly coating the cheeks. As it warmed up from 60F cellar temperature, some deep dark blackberry fruit started poking through, and it gradually took off from there, steadily evolving over an hour or two as we equally steadily waved it goodbye and poured it (gently) down our throats. My wife made the observation that she felt like we were drinking “a special wine” and as we sat by the fire, she correctly noted that this was no longer about fruit (early observations of blackberries aside) but about texture and body and concentration, and it’s entirely true: the descriptive language changes when you enjoy something like this that has developed secondary characteristics. Then the power came back on and we realized we had an empty bottle of wine but for what looked like about 2 inches of sediment!
From what I understand this is about 50-50 Grenache-Syrah with a touch of Mourveder. I played with it in two glasses: a large Syrah Riedel and a smaller Chianti-Zinfandel Riedel. It definitely showed better in the larger glass. Vacqueryas is not necessarily under-rated; it just remains persistently good value. And most of its bottles don’t go this length of time. But this one, picked up for around the $20-$25 mark around 2001, clearly did, clearly does, and demonstrates the enormous quality to be found in this southern Rhône appellation.
"Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter! Try again. Fail again. Fail better." S. Beckett