If you're lucky enough to live in a state that allows grocers to sell wine, RUN don't walk to Trader Joe's to buy the 2001 Vidal-Fleury Cotes du Rhone for $5.99 per bottle. Saturday afternoon I spotted these on the shelf of the San Francisco SOMA location. Vidal-Fleury is a long-established, traditional producer that provided a training ground for E. Guigal. Then in 1985, Guigal purchased the estate and the wines have improved steadily and gained more finesse since then, especially the ones from the Southern Rhone. 2001 was an excellent year in the region and even little wines, such as Cotes du Rhone, had the balance and stuffing to gain from time in the cellar.
This now has two years of bottle age on it and has hit its prime drinking window. When I pulled the cork (artificial so no fear of corkiness) an hour ago, the scent of spicy black plums immediately wafted out of the bottle and I said to myself, "oh yeah, this is going to be nice!" The first impression on the palate is plump Grenache fruit of jammy strawberries and roasted meat. Then the Syrah, which makes up 30% of the blend, kicks in with some gaminess, inky black fruit depth and length. The tannins are mostly resolved but enough remains to create a bit of a pucker around the lips and will allow this wine to hold for another six months to a year. It opens up fast in the glass with a many-layered and intense bouquet. Very expressive now with a warm personality and more complexity than the typical Cotes du Rhone, this full-bodied wine is easy to drink with a satisfying rounded, plush mouthfeel. The aftertaste is quite persistent but it finishes just a little short. But all in all, a delicious quaff and quite a deal at this price. 87 points
Importer: W. J. Deutsch & Sons, Harrison NY