Monday, January 18, 2010

B. Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche

Bernard Levet
La Chavaroche

Ampuis, Rhone, France
$41.99 [$63] -- Grapevine Market, Austin, TX

Color: Medium peachy garnet
Nose: Cat pee, blackberry jam, salmon
Body: Medium
Front: Tangy cherry
Middle: Blueberry pie, prune
Back: Cafe au lait, thyme, velvety tannins
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

The nose on this wine will startle. But the first hint that it's a complex dealio should be that it doesn't taste like cat pee. And I think we've all tasted cat pee.

This is an elegant wine: it's not in your face, it's a contemplative number. It takes time and it takes focus. It was good with Shake-n-Bake pork chops, but not so great with the applesauce. (A remainder of the Gaunot Chardonnay was perfect with that.) But on its own, it's plenty of a taste extravaganza to keep you interested. Wait a minute: can you be extremely elegant? Isn't elegance the ability to be entrancing without extremes? It's like that, for those with an immunity to cat pee.

Rumor has it that the 2002 vintage was not good, on the whole, for this region. Still, my guess is that, given the balance in this glass, this wine will be really good in about four years, perhaps even a little longer. As the cat pee yields to the plum and the levels of spice and earth raise ever so slightly on the palate, it may be like being dragged face-down through the fields of deliciousness by the horses of delight.