Diane and I tend to drink quite a few of "our" wines at home. We don't have a whole lot of disposable income (well bugger all actually!) so a large percentage of the wines we drink Chez Stolarski are either well-chosen bargains from auctions and bin-end sales, or wines from our own stocks. After all, what is the point of being a wine merchant if you can't enjoy a few perks of the trade every now and then? All in the name of evaluation, of course - a merchant needs to know how the wines are drinking, at various stages though their development!
So tonight I thought I would crack a bottle of Neffies Cuvée Baltazar 2004 Coteaux du Languedoc and see how it is doing. After all, I haven't tasted it since it first arrived in October 2008. And neither, frankly, have many other people - for some reason, it doesn't seem to be figuring in many of our customers' order selections up to now.
Anyway, I popped it and poured a reasonable measure into a nice big Riedel Syrah glass - and the rest went into the ship's decanter to get plenty of air and open-out. Though approaching 5 years old, it still has the look of a young(ish) wine, with a deep, blood red core, though with quite a wide ruby/cherry rim. It isn't the clearest wine you'll ever see, but that is only to be expected with this level of extraction. But it certainly isn't overdone - yes, it is big and concentrated, but there is an unmistakeable streak of elegance running right through its middle. Huge wafts of black tapenade, violets and schiste/minerals (classic Languedoc Syrah characteristics) mingle with bramble, dark cherry, plum and all sorts of dark fruit aromas. There is no oak-ageing with this wine - and it is all the better for it. Pure, intense fruit flavours are this wine's strong point, along with those tapenade/olive notes and some fine, if slightly dusty tannins (just give it time) and a truly mouth-watering layer of almost citrus-like acidity. It is one of those wines that bears many similarities with Northern Rhone Syrah, but bolstered by the extra southern warmth and sun. This wine is so drinkable now, but I get the feeling this will get better still over the next 3 to 5 years.
This is what I call a result. I really wasn't expecting the wine to have developed so beautifully in the space of just 8 months (since I last tasted it) but it has. And if you haven't tried it yet, I suggest you do so pretty damn quick - before I drink it all!
So I am happy to give it a shameless plug (it's my Blog, after all)! An absolute steal at £11.25 at Leon Stolarski Fine Wines.