1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Château de Beaucastel, Rhône
Jeb Dunnuck - 28/08/2015
(Robert Parker - Wine Advocate - Dec 2001 & Jan 2003)
About this WINE
Chateau de Beaucastel
The Perrin family of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are one of the Rhône Valley’s greatest vineyard owners. With over 200 hectares of top level, prime vineyards at their fingertips, they have the terroir and skill required to produce some of the region’s finest wines.
The estate traces its history back to a plot of Coudoulet vines bought by Pierre de Beaucastel in 1549. The estate was transferred into the Perrin family in 1909 through marriage, where it remains firmly to this day. Despite being one of the old guards of the region, they are also one of the most progressive estates. They were one of the first converts to organic and biodynamic faming in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which they adopted in 1950 and 1974 respectively.
César Perrin, winemaker at Beaucastel, is very happy with his 2021s. He tells of a cool and long growing season producing wines which are bright, fresh and lower in alcohol than has become the norm in recent years. Their Syrah vines were more heavily impacted by the Spring frosts, so a higher percentage of Mourvèdre - already signature of the Perrin’s style - went into the Beaucastel red than usual (40%, whereas the norm is nearer 30%). This helps bolster the dark fruit profile of the wine, as well as ensuring a balanced tannin structure.
We offered the Perrin’s full range of wines upon release in October last year, though we held back a small amount of their two flagship Château de Beaucastel wines so we could offer them to anyone who missed out.
The most celebrated village of the Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the birthplace of the now indispensable French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system – imperfect though it may be. Compared to the Northern Rhône, the vineyards here are relatively flat and often feature the iconic galet pebbles – the precise benefits of which are a source of much debate. Minimum alcohol levels required by the AOC are the highest in France, but at 12.5% it is well below the natural generosity of Grenache, which only achieves its full aromatic potential when it is fully ripe and laden with the resultant high sugars. Syrah and Mourvèdre contribute the other defining elements in the blend, adding pepper, savoury spice and structure to the decadent Grenache. There are a further 10 permitted red grape varieties which can be used to adjust the “seasoning”. Of the five white varieties permitted, it is Grenache Noir’s sibling – predictably perhaps – Grenache Blanc, which dominates, though Roussanne shows a great deal of promise when handled well, notably at Château de Beaucastel.
Mourvèdre, aka Monastrell in Spain, is a common blending partner of Syrah and Grenache (aka Garnacha in Spain). In Australia and California it can also appear under the name Mataro.
Mourvèdre's bastion in France is Bandol, where it reigns supreme in the red blends and yielding a savoury, gamey, herby wine. It also commonly features in Southern Rhône, Languedoc & Rousillon blends.
The grape needs a warm climate to ripen fully. Its stronghold in Spain are the appellations along the south-east Mediterranean(Murcia, Jumilla, Bullas), where it produces rosé, dry red and sweet fortified wines. Monastrell has played a significant part in Spain’s vinous heritage; it nurtures wines that are deep in colour and richly tannic, sometimes overbearing in their intensity and concentration
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The atypically Grenache-dominated 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape is fully mature and gives up tons of kirsch, garrigue, licorice and a touch of gaminess in its full-bodied, layered and ripe personality. More rounded and sexy than most vintages, it has no hard edges, plenty of mid-palate depth and a great finish. I see no reason to delay gratification, but it will certainly hold for 5-10 years.
Jeb Dunnuck - 28/08/2015
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