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Château de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet Rouge 2004

AOC Côtes du Rhône, Vallée du Rhône, France

Good old Coudoulet. Warm, spicy and very charming fruit character, lots of complexity already, and a proudly earthy funk too. Dry, medium bodied, well structured and balanced with just a little warmth on the finish and that generous black fruit mix throughout. One of the Rhone's true bargains, along with Jaboulet's Crozes-Hermitage.

Burly, with ferrous and game hints leading the way for lavender, hot stone, tar and black fig fruit flavors. The long, ripe, chewy finish shows a hint of mesquite. This could use a little cellaring. Drink now through 2009. 10,830 cases made.

An outstanding effort is the 2004 Coudoulet Cotes du Rhone (the same blend as other vintages, 30% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Counoise). As I wrote last year, 2004 is a terrific vintage for the estate wines of the Perrin family, and this is a beauty with a gorgeous nose of raspberries, dried herbs, pepper, black cherry, other sweet fruits, and even a hint of truffle. The wine has moderately intense tannins, will probably be better with another 1-2 years of bottle age, and should keep for an uncommonly long time for a Cotes du Rhone, 15 or more years.