1999 and 1998 Rhone Valley Wines (Jan 2001)

Full ruby. Subtle, extremely complex nose melds cassis, bitter cherry, licorice, menthol and gunflint. Great purity and class in the middle palate, though extremely young and not currently showing the texture of the unfinished ’99. But this is utterly compelling syrah, finishing with superb length and extremely fine tannins for the vintage. The ’99 may be more pliant in the early going thanks to its sweeter tannins, but I’m not yet convinced it will surpass this brilliant ’98.