We don’t expect a Cotes-du-Rhone that originally cost about $10 to last for six years, so I was surprised when the owner of a retail shop in Memphis urged me to buy a bottle of the Jean-Luc Colombo “Les Abeilles” Cotes-du-Rhones 2000. “This was the last that the importer shipped,” he said, “and I bought the last three cases the wholesaler had. It’s drinking beautifully.” jlclesabeillescotesrouge200.jpg
No joke. Well-worth $13, this wine is certainly at the limit of its maturity, yet the rich, warm, meaty bouquet, wafting scents of spicy red and black fruit, briary-brambly qualities and a touch of mushroom-like earthiness was irresistible. That spiciness blossoms in the mouth, as does the fleshy-gamy nature of the slightly over-ripe and macerated currant and plum flavors, lending a hint of decadence. Lively acid cuts a swath on the palate; the wine retains plenty of grip in the form of tannins that have lost their shagginess, though there’s an edge of austerity on the finish.

Jean-Luc Colombo’s “Les Abeilles” — “the bees” — 2000 is definitely Worth a Search but needs to be consumed within six months or so. The importer is Palm Bay Imports. The 2004 vintage is available now at about $8 to $11.
What would you do with this wine? To me it cries out for a rabbit fricassee or quail with polenta or dove on toast, the sort of fare that hunters serve at breakfast.