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Drink | Wine | WINE OF THE WEEK

1998 Domaine des Relagnes Cha^teauneuf du Pape "La Cuvee Vigneronne," Southern Rhone

May 24, 2000|S. IRENE VIRBILA

I've always been a pushover for Cha^teauneuf du Pape, the alluring red Rhone that is made from as many as 13 grape varieties and sold in bottles embossed with the papal keys. (The vineyards surround the estate of the 14th century French-based popes.) Here, half an hour from Avignon, squat, gnarled vines seem to grow against all odds from a terrain covered with rocks the size of ostrich eggs.

This one is sweet and raisiny, with the intriguing dusty scent of Cha^teauneuf. It's deep red in color and still furry with tannins; after all, it's just a baby. Nevertheless, it can as easily be drunk now as laid away for a few years. A remarkable wine for the price and a preview of things to come from the 1998 vintage, which is seen as the southern Rhone's best since 1990.

About $26. Available at fine wine shops. If you can't find this wine, ask your retailer to call the distributor, Angeles Wine Agency, (818) 764-2221.

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