05 Domaine du Vieux Chene, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Cuvee de la Dame Vielle
It's the "old lady's" wine, according to the label, but maybe it's no coincidence that AltaVista insists on translating "la dame" as "the injury"--making it the "bottle of the old injury." It tastes that way--bruised, scabby, and hastily bandaged. When they tell you to use a wine to cook with that you would at least drink, this is probably the bare minimum. And while my short ribs came out incredibly well (owing to high heat, nuclear browning, and the sage though slightly terrifying wisdom of Mario Batali--not this wine), it's a wonder they didn't jump out of the pot and stilt-walk (of course, they're bone-in short ribs) to Camaret in Southern France for a word with Mr. Jean Claude and Mme. Beatrice Bouche. I purse my lips when I drink this wine, its chalky texture, brothy, prune-like flavors. I know, it sounds like I'm describing a bottle that's gone bad. Indeed, it is a bad bottle, but one that I suspect was designed to be this way. It tastes like every element--the gristly tannin, the stomp-the-yard fruit (did somebody have a hangnail?), the weak beefy menthol aroma--were added in parts; one vial of this, one vial of that. It hurts me so much to say that. This is a Vin de Pays, a country wine, and it's organic for God's sake. If anyone puts pride, care, and affection into their wines, it's probably these guys. I bet the cellars are freezing cold; they sip out of the barrel and spit right onto the grating concrete floor. Maybe they even pick their grapes themselves. Here are your winemakers. The ones who love it. The ones who don't need any fancy oak treatment, consultants, or some American wine critic to tell them what's what. Or, maybe, they do.