* Les Lauzeraies 2001 Cotes-du-Rhone Red (Les Vignerons de Tavel) ($7; France): This stylish blend of Grenache, Syrah (25 percent) and Mourvedre is a real charmer. The fruit is pure and bright, with a bit of kirsch on the nose, and smooth berry notes on the mid-palate. The tannins are light and soft, allowing the wine to be enjoyed now, in its ripe, exuberant youth. (Dionysus Imports)

Ask the Wine Guys

I have heard from a couple of distributors that some wines go into a dormant period, sometimes three times in a period of 20 years. What type of wines would go into this state? For how long?

Strange, but true. For example, young red Bordeaux is delicious when first released. You are tasting the lush baby fat, which disappears after about a year. The wine closes in as it ages. It is ready 10 or more years later, once the bitter tannins precipitate out (thus, the sediment), revealing the fruit once again. However, this is not young grapy fruit, but a harmonious, nuanced fruit. Often there are subsequent dormant periods, until the wine emerges as a lacy old-timer at about 30 years -- or goes over the hill entirely. Great vineyards, especially Lafite and Haut-Brion, almost never suffer the latter fate, but seem to improve indefinitely. That is why (or should be why) they are so expensive. If you are not prepared to wait 35 years, spend your money on something less exalted, as the impatient rarely get what they've paid for.