2009 Tardieu-Laurent Chateaueneuf-du-Pape Collector's 6-Pack
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Maison Tardieu-Laurent Wine Spectator's 92-94pt Châteauneuf Arm-Twist

We're off to France tomorrow night and we still haven't packed. So while we apologize for this morning's brevity, we're more than making up for it by offering our most fervent Châteauneuf-du-Pape collectors a rare opportunity to lay down a few bottles of three 92-94pt Tardieu-Laurent 2009s — some of the most stunning blends from that torrid summer.

The 2009 growing season was hot and dry in the southern Rhône. Young vines suffered from hydric stress as barely a drop of rain fell from July 1 until harvest. But the most talented cellar-masters, blessed with fruit drawn from gnarly, old vine parcels, where deep roots quenched their thirst on winter's water reserves, put out phenomenally concentrated, magical blends. Three wineries particularly excelled.

The top wine of the vintage was the Château de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin, an old-vine Mourvedre that would earn 99 points from Robert Parker. Xavier Vignon, the upstart enologist who has wowed Parker since 2007 with his lusciously polished, old-vine Anonyme, turned out another masterpiece, again earning 96 points. Finally, there was Michel Tardieu, whose rags-to-riches story ranks among the most engaging on any wine trail in France, who turned out a trio of 2009s — two reds and one white — that wowed Wine Spectator with their chiseled richness, complexity and elegance.

When Michel Tardieu's importer called last week, he offered us "the last sprinkling" of the 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Papes from Tardieu-Laurent. The conversation left something to be desired.

"We have 80 bottles of the 93-point Vieilles Vignes," they began.

"80 bottles? What are we, a candy shop?" we snapped.

"There are 78 bottles of the 94-point Cuvée Spéciale, and 79 bottles of Tardieu's 92-point Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Vieilles Vignes."

After all the work we've done with these guys, our first thought was to hang up. Then our competitive juices began to flow, and we considered haggling our "partner" into submission — while keeping every underpriced bottle for ourselves. Then we composed ourselves, and were reminded of who is actually paying for our round-trip BUSINESS CLASS tickets to Paris.

We twisted our "partner's" arm until he squealed.

Tasting Notes

2009 Tardieu-Laurent Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Speciale
"Sports ripe, lush linzer torte, blackberry confiture and warm fig sauce notes, but also has a grippy, pebbly feel, with lively spice, tobacco and ganache driving through the finish, where an iron edge lurks in reserve. This has range and character. Grenache. Best from 2014 through 2028."
94 points -- Wine Spectator

2009 Tardieu-Laurent Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes
"Very solid, with a youthful core of blackberry, plum and fig coiled up with lots of spice, licorice snap and ganache. The tight, chewy finish needs some time to open up, but there's plenty of garrigue and smoldering fruit in reserve. Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Drink now through 2014."
93 points -- Wine Spectator

2009 Tardieu-Laurent Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Vieilles Vignes
"A ripe, flashy style, with buttered almond, green fig, creamed apple and toasted brioche notes all carried by a creamy texture. Weighty, but offset nicely on the finish by floral and mineral notes that are buried deep."
92 points -- Wine Spectator


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