February 2004
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Day February 10, 2004

Vieux Telegraphe 1978

Two bottles of Vieux Telegraphe 1978 Chateauneuf du Pape finally arrived, from a good source in Europe, thanks to my friend Bill Fleckenstein.   I opened one tonight at our regular monthly tasting, knowing only my expectations but not what to expect from the bottle.  The wine is fairly legendary, with Robert Parker calling it “a benchmark for the heights Chateauneuf du Pape can attain.”  I’ve tried this wine once before, with a bottle purchased by Chuck Miller on the secondary market here in the states.  We found that bottle a bit lean, and dried out, and not spectacular.  In general, I’ve been finding the 1978’s (e.g., Beaucastel, Rayas) to be drying out and holding little charm.  

I’m happy to report that provenance and storage are everything (as you’d expect).  

Tonight’s bottle started off with a bit of bottle stink, and a soy note right after opening.  Amazingly, this 25-year old Chateauneuf really should have been decanted about ½ hour before we wanted to taste.  At pouring, we got whiffs of aged spices and something dark.  The color is still somewhere between inky black and red.  After about ½ hour in the glass, we started getting deep, sweet aromas, along with beefy spicy notes.  Still later, on the palate, hints of the classic VT apricot pit or flinty aroma were starting to show.  The wine held up beautifully in the glass for 1+ hour, only starting to fade around 90 minutes later, but still holding a great deal of interest.

The wine is nearly unobtainable, and not cheap if you find bottles in good condition, but it’s amazing.  As a long-time Chateauneuf lover and collector, with a large amount of Vieux Telegraphe, this was a special experience for me – one I was happy to be able to share with good friends and lovers of Rhone wines.

Clark withdraws

Well, like I said the other day, it’s clear Clark is done, and his staff finally counseled him to drop out of the race.  I’m very sad about this, but on a personal level.  Given Kerry’s momentum and the broad support base, I’m happy about how things are shaping up with the Democratic race.  At this point, I feel like the sooner that Kerry can focus on defeating Bush instead of defeating Edwards, Dean, and (formerly) Clark, the better the party as a whole will do. 

General Clark has said that he’ll campaign for the nominee, and I still have high hopes of seeing him in a senior position in a new Administration.  He has skills and experience that we need if we’re going to repair the damage that’s been done to our international alliances.