A Tale of Two Currencies

A Trip Back In Time: $1.19 per Euro
Ah, the good ol’ days. We’ve all heard about ’em, we’ve all talked about ’em, but the story’s the same, you can’t go back. Or can you? The Euro, which recently hit a 12 month low versus the dollar, appears to be headed back in an unfavorable direction. Too bad we can’t act like currency traders and hedge our future wine purchases with locked-in exchange rates. Wait a sec. What if we already have?

A couple of weeks ago, I was helping a customer in the white Burgundy section of our shop. She wanted my opinion as to which of two Chassagne Montrachets would be the better buy. One, from 2006, was a village Chassagne that drinks well any day of the week. The other, a 2003 premier cru from the same producer was, astonishingly, the same price! She inquired as to how that could come to be. I immediately stated that the main reason was the exchange rate. When these 2003’s were purchased, the Euro was only worth $1.19. So, of course, she bought the premier cru.

That, of course, led me to ponder, “What other wines do we still have in stock that were purchased with a stronger dollar?” I waded through several when, all of a sudden, it hit me. The 2003 Gigondas from Santa Duc, which was massive upon release, has been resting in bottle and is now just entering its “I’m ready to drink” window.

If there is one Rhone producer that stands out for me, it has to be Domaine Santa Duc. I love Rhone reds in general, so I don’t discriminate, but I do appreciate some producers to the extreme. At the Cotes du Rhone level, the Santa Duc wines combine a wealth of rich fruit, fresh herbs, earth and mineral, and a pinch of the garrigue. All that adds up to a super sensory wine tasting experience every time I tee up one of Yves Gras’ wines. And that’s in the any night wine price range. The 2003 Gigondas falls into the special wine category. When it was released, it exhibited an explosive fruit profile backed up by firm, chewy tannins and peppery spice. These days, that fruit is settling down gracefully, and the tannins are mellowing, allowing this still very youthful wine to begin to strut it’s stuff. If you decant it for an hour or so, you will find a plethora of nuance in its aromatic profile. Pepper (Santa Duc does pepper very well), black tea, forest floor, blackberry, a hint of leather, black olive, and it goes and goes. It’s good to go tonight, or it can last for another 10 years if properly cellared.

We all can go on and on about all the great stuff that once was, but is now past. We can’t turn back the hands of time. We’re just left with the memories. Do you remember when a Euro was $1.19? Well, in the case of the 2003 Santa Duc Gigondas, it is again!!!Peter Zavialoff

Tasting Notes
I wish I could taste wine like this all the time. It has a vibrant, deep ruby color. Its aromatics are alive with dark berry fruit, cracked pepper, forest floor, and a hint of leather. It is expansive on the palate, which allows the harmony of its structure to appear front and center. Its finish is much like a cable car slowly climbing Hyde St., it takes its time and says farewell with grace. – PZ

Also this from The Wine Advocate #163, February 2006: “As for the 2003 Gigondas, its dense plum/purple hue is accompanied by a rich, sweet nose of creme de cassis, licorice, underbrush, and black truffles. Deep, full-bodied, and pure, with sweet tannin and excellent concentration, it can be drunk now or cellared for 10-15 years.-90 points”

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Filed under French Wine, General, Peter Zavialoff

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