Lunch with friends in London; a good opportunity to try out Raymond Usseglio's prestige Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 Blanc, a pure Roussanne called, inspiringly, "Roussane Pur"! It is a stunning wine and would have gone very well with the rich, creamy pasta we ate had it lasted long enough. Everyone agreed it was very reasonably priced (£24).
My host invited me to rummage around his cellar for something else whilst he
cooked and, slightly embarrassingly, every bottle was bought either from me or with me on holiday a couple of years ago. In the end I decided to go with the 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Usseglio to keep the theme going (and because he had well over half a case left to my three or four bottles). This is a wine which was great when I first tasted it with Raymond back in January 2001 and again back home a couple of weeks later but when the stock arrived a month or so later and I dutifully took a case out of bond and tried it (all part of the job) I was horrified: it tasted like a slightly alcoholic, very lightly fruity drink and not at all like the wine I had invested a reasonable chunk of cash in. I waited several months and tried it again... a slight improvement but not much. By the end of 2002 it was showing signs of recovery... by the end of 2006 it is glorious, confirming my belief (shared by the French but not the British or American critics it seems) that 1999 was a better vintage for many CDP producers than 1998. Now, where are those last few bottles?