Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: **+ $ Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Rouge, M. Chapoutier, 2007

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By way of background: The Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Rouge from M. Chapoutier, 2007, hails from four vineyards in this well-regarded area - Drôme,Vaucluse, Gard and Ardèche - on different soils (clay and calcareous alluvial deposit terraces).  This combination is designed to add richness and complexity to the Belleruche, which comprises 50% syrah and 50% grenache.  Let's see what we find with this wine, which was aged in vats and finished at a potent 14.5% alcohol.  Interesting braille label.

Original review, December, 2009:

In the glass: Belleruche Rouge shows as deep burgundy in the glass, with purple highlights at the edge.  It is opaque to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the glass.

On the nose: Poured without a decant and swirled vigorously, Belleruche sports a nose of purple Welch's Grape Juice complexified with a bit of oak and hay.

On the palate:Purple plum shows first at the back of your tongue.  It then opens across your tongue with some dark - almost peppery - tannins. These tangy, charcoal-broiled red fruits then parade to your cheeks and take root.

And the finish: In your cheeks, the rooted red fruits discharge what remains of their sugar, leaving a lingering acid to lightly curl your cheeks and ready you for the next sip. 

In summary:Light to mid-bodied experience.  Not compelling nor memorable. Two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  My earlier review as part of a bigger tasting yielded a plus.  I'm not seeing the plus this time.  Age might knit a few things together, so we'll keep some a bottle around and see.  Perhaps try a decant too.

Following full-day decant in partial bottle under vacuum... Aroma still shy, but it has lost its grapey simplicity.  On the palate, a broader red berry fruit opens across your tongue.  Clean, pleasant, solid finish.  Now the plus comes back for its seriousness with a decant!

And after a second-day in partial bottle under vacuum, the aromas have opened up a bit, to red berries with a dusting of oak.  Rich, red cherries open fully across your tongue, bringing smooth acids along your cheeks.  Rounder finish.  I definitely recommend the longer decant; longer bottle aging of two to three years might do the same.

Updated review, a year and a half later, July, 2011:  Consistent color, though purple highlights have gone to brick. Funky sweet and lightly motor oiled purple juice now on the nose. Sweet, almost citrusy red fruit now, soft and unique in its almost-over-the-top ripeness. Wouldn't hold any longer though, as this is funky enough!  Following long decant, full day kept cool in partially filled bottle:  Nose and palate remain precisely the same.  Drink now.

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