Now I am not a warm climate wine lover, and while this wine had all the pruny, high alcohol traits of that scorching vintage. It was better than I had expected, though still not I would want to return to. In many ways it’s qualitatively on par with the 1997, just at opposite ends of the spectrum, so I am sure there will be people out there who react to the 2003 as I’ve reacted to the 1997: a nice wine with a few faults but at it’s peak it will be a fine bottle.  
 
Moving on to the 2004 we are treated to another cork tainted bottle, though one where one can get a sense of what lies beneath. A vintage probably similar in style to but notable better than the 1997, I would love to try this again in five years but expect it will be drinking quite well today and has a lovely ten year window to enjoy it in. And that brings us to our final bottle, the 2005. Up until this point the wines had all been notably clean, brett-free, though brett had been a trademark or sorts at Beaucastel. That barnyard smell was one of the things that made Beaucastel a love it or hate it wine, and in truth the high percentage of Mourvedre with its gamy, earthy aromas only helped to reinforce this aromatic profile, but Beaucastel cleaned up the brett issues that they had, or did they?
 
Not with this bottle, which opened with decidedly meaty, leathery aromas but morphed into a poop-a-thon with a few hours of air. I expect some will say this is just the Mourvedre, but I would have to disagree, this was old school brett and absolutely freaking delicious. This is a great vintage for Beaucastel; powerful, complex, rich and with impeccable balance. This was classic Beaucastel, and brings us back to the point of this article. If I were to be buying Beaucastel today I might be tempted by the 2010 tasted last night, but this 2005 is simply a better wine in my opinion, and at the same price a better deal. If you’re like me and enjoy austere, firm wines you might even want to backfill with some 1999, but this 2005 should be a must-buy for any Beaucastel lover out there.
 
So in the end this was a lesson of mixed messages. Yes, buying older wines can be a risky proposition, but at times they offer such compelling value that they can’t be missed. And it should be worth noting that most, in fact nearly all of the wines we tasted this evening were purchased within a year or so of release, so buying the wines young is no guarantee of quality either. Ah, the life of the wine lover.

For more information on Beaucastel, and tasting notes from 2008 please check out: A Beaucastel Vertical