2001 Coteaux du Languedoc Prieuré de St-Jean de Bébian

SKU #1011491

91 points Wine Spectator: "Distinctive, elegant and structured, with plenty of power and good concentration to the sandalwood, dried cherry and plum confit flavors. Stylish, with a touch of cream and mocha on the finish. Will be interesting to see how this continues to develop. Drink now through 2007." (07/05) K&L's notes - One of the truly grand wines of the Langeudoc comes from Prieuré de St-Jean de Bébian. The Bebian vineyards lie in the foothills of the Cevennes and about 3 km from the town of Pezenas. The vineyards are planted to all 13 varietals found in Chateauneuf du Pape and consist of twenty-eight plots on arid, stony and south or southwest facing slopes. The vines here are almost all the result of selection massale, and maintain a fine pedigree- the syrah from Chave (Hermitage), the grenache from Chateau Rayas, and the mourvedre from Domaine Tempier in Bandol. Yields are ridiculously low at 25 hl/ha, more than half the authorized volume for the appellation. The 2001 Bebian is stunning, the result of a fantastic vintage as well as meticulous winemaking. This is not a wine for the timid, and it requires a minimum of 3-5 years of cellaring. Blackcurrant, licorice and tar are matched by fantastic minerality and length.

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Price: $25.99
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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.


- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them.