A couple of years ago I was flush enough to buy a case of Coudoulet de Beaucastel en primeur (an arrangement where you buy wine before it is bottled and postpone Vat and Duty payment until you receive the wine). The 2007 vintage in the Rhône had been widely flagged as exceptional, being described by US wine guru Robert Parker as the “vintage of a lifetime”. Although the Coudoulet is a humble Côtes du Rhône, its pedigree is unassailable, coming from the renowned Chateau de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
When my case arrived in late 2009, I couldn’t wait to try the wine and opened a bottle that evening. It was something of a disappointment – pretty tannic with a few rough edges and not really hanging together very well – a wine scribe with a liking for hyperbole would have deemed it “an exuberant youngster for whom age will bring maturity”. More experienced colleagues were aghast that I had been so precipitant – leave it for another 2 years, I was advised.
Well, when the 2 years were up, I tucked in again and sure enough the precocious teen had come of age. Rich and opulent, the Coudoulet showed lovely blackberry fruit, herbs and savoury, meaty flavours. This is a wine to sit back and enjoy on a cold winter evening in front of a log fire. It’s what you could describe as a complex wine in that it has layers of flavours with little hints of fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetal matter that are often very difficult to pin down to anything specific.
The 2009 Rhône vintage looks like being as good as 2007 so why not join me in swooping in for a couple of cases of Coudoulet en primeur – give the Fine Wine staff at James Nicholson’s a call and treat yourself to a stunning wine – not until 2012 or so though.