I reviewed the 1998 Jaboulet Cotes du Rhone "Parallele 45" nearly a year ago now, and I refer to it often. That vintage was superb—good flavor and complexity in a wine that retails at $7 a bottle is difficult to find. I was therefore excited to see the 1999s arrive on the shelf. The weather in the southern Rhone valley that year had not been as good for grapes as in 1998; but by all accounts, it had been OK.

This wine is a pale reflection of the 1998 vintage, but still good for the price. The characteristic dark red/purple colors, the peppery scents, and the light acidity were all present, but subdued. And the tannins, this time around, were light. This gave the wine a lighter body that made for slightly easier drinking, but left the finish a little short and unimpressive.

Had I written this review immediately after opening the bottle, I would have been much less generous. My first sips were strangely bitter, and this really turned me off to the wine. But after a little time breathing, the wine softened and lost the hard edge. I am normally not a believer in the value of "breathing," but in this case it definitely helped make the wine more accessible.

Ultimately, I still believe that Cotes du Rhone wines offer great value, and I expect this to continue to hold true with the 1999s. At least, I certainly hope so…

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