Cellar notes #21: Buy your Rhône

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Indy Lifestyle Online

With 2002 looking to be a washout, 2001 marks the end of a foursome of great vintages for the southern Rhône Valley beginning with the landmark 1998 vintage. 2001 may well turn out to the best of the lot with excellent concentration and fine balance to match the richness and opulence of the fruit. If you haven't dipped a toe into southern Rhône waters, now is a good time to do so.

With 2002 looking to be a washout, 2001 marks the end of a foursome of great vintages for the southern Rhône Valley beginning with the landmark 1998 vintage. 2001 may well turn out to the best of the lot with excellent concentration and fine balance to match the richness and opulence of the fruit. If you haven't dipped a toe into southern Rhône waters, now is a good time to do so.

Robert Parker is in raptures over Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf du Pape, £393 per case, Gauntleys, Nottingham (01159 110555), calling it a 'magnificent, majestic Beaucastel - one of the great classic Beaucastels of recent years'. The Domaine le Vieux Donjon, Châteauneuf du Pape, £312, Yapp Bros, Mere, Wilts (01747 860423) is endorsed in equally glowing terms.

The Domaine du Pegaü, Cuvée Reservée, £305.50, Gauntleys (as before), is another highly recommended Châteauneuf du Pape, a 'fabulously made, traditionally styled wine with an amazing level of mouth-filling, smoky, black cherry fruit'. Among other equally highly rated wines are the Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, La Crau, Châteauneuf du Pape, £215.40, Tanners, Shrewsbury (01743 234500) with its 'wealth of fruit'.

On a more affordable note, there are a handful of lesser 2001s that will drink sooner but repay keeping for a good five years and more. Among them, the Domaine Charvin, Côtes du Rhône, £101.40, The Vine Trail (01179 211770) stands out along with Coudoulet de Beaucastel, £139, Gauntleys. Note that case prices include VAT but some merchants may add a delivery charge.

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