Baronnie d'Estouard Chateauneuf du Pape 1998:
A hint of age, light in color with some brown on the edge
Elegant and soft
Notes of pepper, black cherry, and earth
Graceful, smooth finish
Domaine Font de Michelle Cuvee Etienne Gonnet Chateauneuf du Pape 2001:
Brilliant, light color
Layers of vanilla and cinnamon over cherry and berries
Long finish, but a little tight
These two wines were tasted side-by-side with a cheese course followed by coq a vin. It was "French night" from start to finish with good friends from New York.
Both wines were excellent, but different. The Baronnie d'Estouard was purchased in Provence in 2000 and is a small production wine that is not readily available outside of southern France. The Domaine Font de Michelle is a wine more visible on this side of the pond. It was purchased at a fine wine store in New York.
There was obviouse age on the first wine, although it's only 8 years old. It may be due to the fact that the wine experienced a variety of storage conditions over the years that accelerated the aging. Still, it was smooth and graceful and it momentarily transported us to a small village in Provence. The wine was purchased in France 5 years ago for approximately $30.
The second wine was younger and more crisp, which contributed to a tighter finish. The layers were endless and the overall quality excellent. It scores 95 points with Wine Spectator and was purchased this month in New York for $50.
This little study in Chateauneuf was a lot of fun. It's the type of thing we had to plan for and prepare food for. But the payoff was the chance to enjoy two great wines with great friends. Raise a glass!