(Note from 02/2005 review, re-reviewed with no new note 06/2005) There are 6,000 cases of the 2003 Le Mistral. Ninety percent of its fruit comes from the 50-acre parcel that Joe Phelps owns in Monterey, and the blend for this vintage is 57% Syrah, 36% Grenache, and the rest small dosages of Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouchet. I thought this was a fine example of the Rhone blend, and the fact that it is largely aged in neutral wood with only a small amount of new oak used has allowed the fruit to come forward. A big, peppery nose of raspberries, plums, smoke, and damp earth is followed by a dense, rich, medium to full-bodied wine with loads of fruit, a forward style, but good, refreshing acidity that provides a framework as the wine does not appear to have a great deal of tannin. (RP)
*One Star* Outwardly fruity, nicely ripened and decked out with lots and lots of very sweet oak, Phelps's tasty combination of Rhône varietals sports a fair bit of peppery Syrah spiciness to go with its juicy themes of berries and black cherries. It is temperate in tannins and heat, and it has the double virtues of being both easy to drink early on and offering the likelihood of continuing growth for several more years.
Phelps practically owns the patent on red Rhône blends with Mistral, consistently a wine that offers not only immediate pleasure but depth and complexity. Sourcing the grapes from Monterey makes economic as well as terroir sense. The wine is dry, rich, succulent, balanced and well oaked.
A ripe, rich style, with a light syrupy texture and a mix of cassis, ripe berry, blackberry and hints of cola, pepper and spice, yet for all its opulence, it offers a measure of restraint and austerity.
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