If there are any of the French classics that I enjoy when they fresh and youthful, it’ll be the wines of the Rhone. Bordeaux can be a bit stern, and need the time to soften. Burgundy can be tight and slight, requiring the time to fatten up. But the Rhone wines can be generous from an early stage, and they seem to be drinking well from there on in. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons why they have become classic. At the big dinner, where, interestingly, white Burgundy and Bordeaux reds were prevalent, SWMBO and I brought along a white Rhone, and just one couple, the Maccas, sitting opposite us, other brought along a red Rhone. Co-incidentally, both wines were youthful, and we all enjoyed sharing and drinking these fresher wines.
Our was the 2014 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu ‘Les Chaillets’, a favourite of ours, but usually we open the bottles with a bit more time under their belts. This was relatively pale in colour, but unmistakably Viognier with a firm core of apricot, exotic floral blossom and stonefruit aromas and flavours. Still with a fresh, not quite zesty mouthfeel, this was truly youthful. But under the firm, freshness was a viscosity and unctuousness. The quality and provenance quite unmistakable. Another 2 years would allow it to become richer, bolder, open and more exotic. But it delivered enough to make drinking potential a delight.
The Maccas wine was the 2012 Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Black-red with youthful purple. This was concentrated and densely packed with supercharged raspberry essence and black fruits. Aromatic, lollyish, juicy, plush and very sweet, there was no subtlety here. But its sweetness meant no coarseness. Rounded, mouthfilling, with palate expanding flavours and enough underlying tannin grip and extract to provide a backbone, if not a framework. We knew it was going to change over time. It will always be generous and warm, but it won’t be over the top in sweetness in the end. The raspberries will give way to garrigue and earth with maybe some game and minerals. Instantly cuddly, this will grow up in 5+ years to be sturdier.