A while back I reported on a tasting of cellared wines Westport Whiskey & Wine. The report stirred-up a gentle controversy because of my notes on the Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe 2000 Chateauneuf-du-Pape:
This one is faded, significantly brown with heavy sediment. The nose is all Grenache with some strawberry and volatile acidity. This is a wine past its prime, which is a little surprising because it’s not that old.
Readers figured we’d got hold of a bad bottle, and I kind of concurred. I contacted Chris Zaborowski, the event’s host, and he assured me that the bottle had been well cared for, with a provenance that left little room to think the wine had been abused in its youth.
Curious, I tracked down another bottle from a second source and retasted the wine. The second time around, it was less faded in every way and lacked the heavy sediment of the first. So, yeah: bad bottle, bad first impression. That happens and its not an indictment of the people who contributed it.
But the 2000 Telegraphe is still not aging into a great wine. It is, like me, middle aged and worthwhile, but in no danger of actually becoming anything but a solid citizen. Its potential for stardom is gone. Viewed objectively, its attributes, like mine, are regrettably middling: color, nose, acidity, tannins, and finish all safely in the expected range for a Chateauneuf slightly past its prime. Its becoming more of a memory now, a life fading to sepia tones with only occasional flashes of what might have been.
Good, solid, worthy of respect — but I won’t spend time or money hunting down any more of it. There are younger wines out there whose destiny is not yet decided; there’s space in the cellar for more of those.