Tasting Beaucastel

I love the wines of France’s Southern Rhône. The hot weather and terroirs there are capable of producing wines with incredible levels of fruit, alcohol and power. However, they are also capable of producing wines of incredible elegance and finesse. Both were on display recently at a tasting of Château de Beaucastel, one of the leading producers of the region, organised by Roberson Wine, was hosted by Marc Perrin, whose family bought the estate in 1909.

Beaucastel the only estate to grow and use all of the 13 red grape varietals permitted in red Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They shun the use of new oak and vinify single varietals separately in tanks and old oak barrels before blending.

In addition to around 120 hectares of land on the Northern limit of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the estate also owns other vineyards around the Rhone valley and beyond. The Perrin family is collaborating with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to produce a Provencal rosé, Miraval, which reportedly sold out quickly when put on the market earlier this year.

The wines of Chateau de Beaucastel

The tasting began with the Miraval, which was a very nice rosé. Two Rousanne-based white wines were excellent. The ‘lesser’ red wines, Coudoulet and Gigondas were very elegant and enjoyable. It was interesting to note the differences between the red Châteauneufs according to year and age. However, I wasn’t blown away by some of the older reds, maybe they just weren’t showing as well on the night. Here are my impressions of the wines:

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2012, Château de Beaucastel: This mix of 80% Rousanne and 15% Grenache Blanc was very aromatic and combined a creamy texture with minerality and a slight savoury flavour.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rousanne Vielles Vignes 2012, Château de Beaucastel: From vines planted in 1909, this was very rounded, slightly sweeter and richer than the wine above.

Côtes du Rhône 2011, Coudoulet de Beaucastel: Produced from a parcel of land just over the road from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this was made from four grapes including Cinsault, which is normally reserved for rosé wines. 2011 was a cool year and produced this lovely violet-scented concoction, with aromas of cherries and tasting of a mix of dark and red fruits.

Gigondas 2010, Clos des Tourelles: Ten miles from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this wine was produced from 90% undestemmed Grenache and had a very perfumed, blackcurrant nose and a nice length. A feminine expression of Grenache with good length.

Châteauneuf du Pape 2009, Château de Beaucastel: There was lots of sunshine in 2009 and you could really taste it in this wine. Raisiny and plummy fruit with plenty of alcohol and tannins on display. Not my cup of tea style-wise but it would be interesting to try this wine in several years to see how it develops.

Châteauneuf du Pape 2008, Château de Beaucastel: Couldn’t be more different from the ’09 – very aromatic and much lighter with red fruits, freshness and acidity. Very elegant. Wine of the night for many, including me.

Châteauneuf du Pape 2006, Château de Beaucastel: This wine was more acidic, with very noticeable tannins. Less fruit and more astringency. Would it be more enjoyable with food?

Châteauneuf du Pape 2001, Château de Beaucastel: Raisiny fruit with lots of tannin and good length.

Châteauneuf du Pape 1994, Château de Beaucastel: Complex nose with earthy barnyard aromas and very dark fruits. Long finish.

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