Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 1983 90 RP

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Certain Beaucastel vintages possess more intense aromas of the brett yeast (aged beef, sweaty animal-like smells) than other vintages. The 1978, 1983, and 1990, and to a lesser extent 1981, are Beaucastel's candidates with the largest brett population. Most Europeans love this smell, which is reminiscent of well-hung game (as the English would say), but to Americans weaned on pristine, pure, red- and black-fruit aromas, it can be an ungodly characteristic. Since the only ways of getting rid of it are with huge doses of flavor-stripping SO, or by a sterile filtration (i.e., a wine lobotomy), it is best managed by a winery keeping the brett population as small as possible. A little brett can add remarkable complexity, as demonstrated by the great red Burgundies of Domaine Roumier and Domaine Leroy, and such renowned Bordeaux as Lynch Bages and L'Evangile. However, there is no question that when brett dominates the wine's fruit, it is a flaw. That being said, the 1993 Beaucastel takes its level of brett (for my palate) to the limit, but I still love the wine for its rich, flashy display of red and black fruits, licorice, Provencal herbs, and the subtle, sweet smell of aged beef. This full-bodied, fully mature wine should be drunk over the next 5-7 years. Last tasted 12/95.- RP