04 Tardieu-Laurent, Cotes du Rhone "Les Becs Fins"
When did Cotes du Rhone start to include Bourgogne? With a heady perfume of smoked meats and dead flowers alongside a toasty palate of dense, tannic, sometimes minty black cherries, cranberries, violets, and sweet licorice, this Tardieu-Laurent blend challenges everyone in the Rhone to do better. Its tacky tannin and long, floral finish remind me of Vosne-Romanee, while the (what I assume are) syrah and grenache still shine through. So much so, in fact, that it shouldn't even be classified as Cotes du Rhone, the simple but pleasant southeasterly French blends dominated by grenache. It's on the cusp of being something reverential, if not referential, of French wine--a reason to rely on winemakers instead of appellations. Great winemakers make great wine and, based on this bottle alone, I will always look forward to tasting Michel and Dominique's work--no matter where they live.