Wow. I hadn’t opened a bottle of the 1999 Clape Cotes du Rhone since release, but at 5 years it seemed like an opportune time. After all, conventional wisdom has Cotes du Rhone wines as “early drinking” quaffers. Well, not from producers like J.L. Chave and August Clape. Clape’s Cotes du Rhone mirrors his Cornas: dense and chewy. At five years, this CdR has a definite violet floral aroma amidst a huge leathery, almost rubber core. The overall impression is “wild” — wild floral and big, unconstrained flavors. The palate remains balanced, however, with a fair amount of tannin and good concentration. No new oak touched this wine, which is fine by me — Clape remains a traditionalist, even in his mass-market wines. As for aging, the wine is still primary, with only hints of secondary aromas, this wine will do fine in the cellar for awhile. And that’s a great thing, because it’s a good value and you can stock up compared to other northern Rhone wines, including Clape’s own far more expensive Cornas.