With the help of a friend, my wife and I drank a bottle of 1999 M. Chapoutier La Bernadine Chateauneuf-du-Pape last week. But first let me preface this by saying that our previous experience with this wine was from the outstanding 1998 vintage, which was absolutely lovely.
After letting the bottle air for a short time, I poured myself some of this 1999 vintage wine. It had very good taste and complexity and some remaining tannin, but I was shocked by the overall harshness of the finish, which completely overwhelmed my palate. I was at the point that I told my wife and guest I was thinking about dumping the bottle.
We decided to wait a few minutes and started serving our dinner of roasted chicken with white asparagus and rice pilaf. The chicken had been marinated in a lovely concoction containing fresh chopped rosemary, juniper berry, dijon and other earthly delights. You can only imagine how wonderful the house smelled while this was roasting.
Our guest next tried the wine with a bite of his food and declared it to be just fine. Sure enough, that roasted chicken tamed the demons in this wine, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. At the end of the meal, there was still a couple of ounces of wine in the bottle, which our guest declined and I then poured into my glass. Without the food, the wine was once again a harsh monster. All in all, this was quite an interesting experience.