I don’t usually post wine reviews – I prefer to write about wine experiences. But tonight, I opened a wine that was an experience.

I bought this 2008 Roger Sabon Chapelle de Maillac, from Lirac in France’s southern Rhone, back in January during a sale at Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando. I tasted it in the store and knew I needed to drink it fairly soon. That’s how I rationalized opening an aged wine by myself, to enjoy on my porch on a beautiful summer Sunday evening in Florida.

2008 Chapelle de Maillac Lirac

I’m very glad I did. This is a lovely wine.

It has a slightly brown color, thanks to its age.

The nose is complex. There’s plenty of fruit, but many more aromas envelope that fruit. As I searched for a way to describe the nose, I came up with “caramelized cassis.” The aroma of the black currant liquor is prominent, but there’s a hint of brown sugar in the background – almost as though it’s been bruleed. After the fruit, there are hints of meat – fresh red meat, not the smokey bacon generally associated with syrah, which is one of the grapes in this blend. I also got whiffs of olives and aged balsamic.

When you taste this wine, the flavors reflect the nose, but with fresher black fruits. The tannin, alcohol, and acid are all on the high side of medium, but everything is so well balanced that no one element dominates. The wine has a medium to long fin.ish that lets you enjoy it after the last sip fades away.

This is not a subtle wine – it makes its presence known – but it manages to retain its Old World elegance.

If you have this vintage in your cellar, or if you run across it for sale, I suggest drinking it now. It may be ever so slightly over the hill, but what a lovely hill it is.

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