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Milan’s 2003 Les Baux-de-Provence

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Les Baux-de-Provence 2003, Domaine Milan, Domaine Henri Milan ($25.80, 12229371)
This cuvée, with a slightly different mix of grape varieties, was the AOC Coteaux d’Aix Les Baux de Provence “La Tuilière Vieille” from 1986 to 1998 and has been the Vin de table de France “Le Vallon” since 2007. Organically farmed Grenache (80%), Syrah (10%), Cinsault (5%) and Mourvèdre (5%). Manually harvested. The grapes are vinified together. Whole cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Matured around 12 months in old barrels. 13% ABV.
Evolved to the eye: medium maroon with as much brown as red at the rim. Complex nose of Chinese dried plums, candied raspberries, sandalwood, dried tobacco leaf and faint barley sugar. Medium-bodied and smooth-surfaced, with soft, resolved tannins and coursing acidity. The clean, silky fruit fades to reveal slate, old wood and spice that last through the faintly astringent finish. On opening the bottle, I wondered whether the wine was over the hill but it freshened, sweetened and opened up after an hour. Not a knockout but definitely enjoyable. At or maybe a little past its peak: drink in the next year and carafe an hour ahead of time, putting the carafe in the fridge for the last 20 minutes. Note too that a glass served from a bottle that had been opened, sampled, recorked and left standing for 24 hours was more brown than red and tasted oxidized, desiccated and fruitless. (Buy again? A highly drinkable, decade-old wine offered at a very fair price? Sure.)

A passable match for moussaka, though the tomato put a damper on the wine’s fruit. A better pairing would be well-done red meat – a beef daube made with white wine, say – or pork or rabbit grilled with herbes de Provence.

Addendum: A knowledgeable reader reports “I tried the wine twice and found it quite over the hill. Too bad. I was hoping for better!” Yet Le Journal de Montréal‘s Patrick Désy is positive, awarding the wine three out of five stars, remarking on its freshness and saying comparisons with Châteauneuf-du-Pape are not beyond the pale. The wine advisors at the SAQ store that served me the above-mentioned dead glass claimed the wine had been “magnifique” the day before. A reminder, then, that old wines, especially ones from difficult vintages (2003 was infernal across Europe), are fragile things and that bottle variation in this particular shipment may be high.

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Written by carswell

May 19, 2014 at 11:46

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with , ,

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