Châteauneuf du Papes with Friends ... again

It's obvious I can't keep my hands and palate off Châteauneuf du Pape. It is such a great time to be not only drinking the 90s, which are starting to hit that plateau of maturity, but with the newly arrived 1998s and 1999s showing up, it is just a glorious time to look at this underappreciated, undervalued appellation.

With some good friends who also love Châteauneuf du Pape, we started with the stunning Prager 1999 Riesling, an incredibly layered, complex wine with surprising power and density, but surreal elegant and steeliness. The more I taste some of the better Austrian wines, the more I am impressed. We started off with two very young Châteauneuf du Papes, with the Pierre Usseglio Mon Aieul extremely backward dense and promising, but needing another 3-4 years of cellaring. Slightly more evolved, but mammoth, concentrated, and spectacular is Bois de Boursan's Cuvée Felix. I have commented on these wines many times. They are just fabulous Châteauneuf du Papes, and I am thrilled to own as many bottles as I can find. Since I know how perfect the 1990 Rayas and 1990 Marcoux Vieilles Vignes are, it was impossible not to have two more bottles of these wines. They are showing so well, and there's nothing worse than waiting too long to drink a bottle of wine. If they are in that plateau of perfection, I'm going to exploit it. They were both amazing again. They were followed by the wine of the vintage in 1986, the Henri Bonneau Réserve des Céléstins. Like all of Bonneau's great cuvées, this wine is the essence of beef blood, black fruits, earth, underbrush, and other assorted animal and spice elements. It is full-bodied and a remarkable wine for what was a difficult vintage in Châteauneuf du Pape. It should continue to drink well for at least another 10-15 years.

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