Long before I met my wife she belonged to a Wine Club in Cardiff, not that I think really this was for genuine oenophiles but more of a social club where the cheese got as much attention as the wine. It was though by all accounts great fun and had a loyal following.

At one such gathering she was persuaded to buy a bottle of Chapoutier Côte Rôtie 1996 (for what was then an unusual concept – drinking at some point in the future). This bottle has been with us now for more years than I care to mention, moved house with us and still with its hand written sticker “DO NOT DRINK UNTIL 2010”

It’s been an ongoing debate – as 2010 passed, when would we actually drink this single bottle?

Last weekend we had friends round, a normal drill of each couple bringing one of the courses – Richard decided on Beef bourguignon (after a few errors with a beef wellington earlier the previous day) – so we decided that we may as well finally drink the CR96.

Côte Rôtie - Jasmin & Chapoutier

It felt like my Chemistry A level practice all over again – I knew the theory – now it was time for the real thing. We decided on a face off – we lined up a Jasmin Côte Rôtie 2004 to ‘compare and contrast’ – well, following the science A level reference – more an experiment control. So, having asked (one of) our resident Rhone experts at Yapp HQ I was ready.

We kept both bottles outside during the day – it was 12-13 degrees, so ideal – warmer than chilled whites but cooler than normal red serving temperature. We decanted (with military precision) both bottles 1 hour before serving the Beef bourguignon.

Côte Rôtie corks

The 1996 on pouring was thinner and browner that the 2004 –and on decanting had hardly any nose. The 2004 however had a classic Northern Rhone nose - a bouquet of raspberries and violets and a palate of dense black fruit flavours and ripe tannins.

However, an hour later the 1996 had literally blossomed – and now in comparison was way in front – always reassuring when your revision comes good in the exam!

The 1996 Côte Rôtie was devoured by all at the table, it was delicious and had a finish that was seemingly never ending.

Should you want to repeat this at home (we had great fun doing it) you’ll find our selection of Côte Rôtie wines here.

Happy drinking!