I first started building my cellar and collecting wine in 2003, and the 1998 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe "La Crau" was one of my earliest purchases. Acquired in September '04 for one of our group tastings, I never used it, and so it sat patiently in the dark of my cellar, waiting for my affection. For Valentine's Day, my other sweetie prepared some lamb chops with mushrooms and herbs, and Chateauneuf du Pape seemed just the thing to pair with this on a blustery Valentine's eve.
According to the maker, this wine is 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah, with the balance Cinsault and others. Ruby red, the wine was beginning to show some age with some brick red at the rim. Still cool from the cellar, the first nose was that of field flowers and strawberries. As it warmed up to room temperature there were strong earthy, minty, and vegetal aromas, as well as some truffles, smoke and nutty scents. Very promising. On the palate it was very dry, and despite the wine's age it was still showing big tannins. Strawberries and chocolate, it was a nice Valentine's treat. A very long finish with good fruit, tannins and acidity, I am sure this wine still has a few more years to go. However, the alcohol was very noticeable, throwing the wine off balance, and I don't believe extra bottle time will help with that. A perfect match for the food and the event. I have to disagree with Parker's assessment (93).
Price: At $67, it was a great wine, but not a great value. Try the Grand Veneur or Vieux Lazaret, at much lower prices.