1979 Gentaz-Dervieux “Côte Brune” Côte-Rôtie

Oh, how I miss this man! And oh! how I regret that his holdings ended up with Rostaing- it’s like the entire Clos de la Roche vineyard being handed over to Dominique Laurent. Marius Gentaz represented all that was great about the “old-style” Rhône reds. The wines were just packed with interesting and complex flavors, aged superbly, and had a consistency and harmony that most others could only envy. Gentaz’s Côte-Rôties have a hallmark licorice bite, a waft of violets, and a deep core of smoke and leather. There’s certainly a hint of the bretty rusticity that puts off those accustomed to modern, streamlined, tucked-in winemaking, a coarse gravelly tone to the rich black fruit. But there’s so much else going on that it would be churlish to count that a defect. The ’79 has hit a perfect maturity level, though in no danger of dropping off. It’s a bit lighter (but only a bit) than the ’78, but has an intensity of flavor and aroma to match anything. Awesome wine; Gentaz made the wine of the vintage 4 years out of 5, and this is no exception.

SY (2/99)