About this WINE
Vieux Télégraphe is one of the most renowned estates of the Southern Rhône. Vieux Télégraphe is a large estate and there are about 45 hectares of red grapevines planted, with an average age of around 55 years. Blessed with one of the finest locations in the area, the particularly hot microclimate is such that the Bruniers, owners of the estate for almost a century, are able to harvest as much as a week ahead of their neighbours.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the largest and most important wine appellation in the southern Rhône. It is home to more than 3,200 hectares of vineyards and over 80 growers; more wine is produced in Châteauneuf than the whole of the northern Rhône put together. The vineyards are bounded to the west by the Rhône river and to the east by the A7 autoroute.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first ever Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée established in France, in 1932. Small, rounded rocks from the ancient river bed known as galets roulés are a key aspect of what makes Châteauneuf -du-Pape wines so distinctive, with the rocks reflecting heat back into the vines at night, thus increasing ripeness and reducing acidity.
The gloriously rich red wines, redolent of the heat and herbs of the south, are enhanced by the complexity which comes from blending several grape varieties. Fourteen are permitted for reds: Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Teret Noir, Muscadin, Picpoul Noir, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Picpoul Gris and Picardin. With red Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache typically dominates with Syrah and Mourvèdre in support.
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape is becoming increasingly sought-after, even though it represents less than 10 percent of the total production. Here, five grapes are permitted: Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Picardin.
Recommended Producers: Château de Beaucastel, Clos de Papes, Vieux Télégraphe, Château Rayas,, Domaine de la Charbonnière, Sabon, Château La Nerthe, Domaine Perrin
Southern Rhône Blend
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.
Located in the southeastern part of Chateauneuf du Pape and located mainly on the prime La Crau plateau, this classic and traditional estate has been run by the Brunier family for generations. Now managed by brothers Daniel and Frederic, the estate continues to churn out a range of high class wines. In addition to their holdings in Chateauneuf du Pape (Vieux Telegraphe, La Roquete, and now Piedlong, which is a new wine replacing the red from La Roquete) they also make wines in Gigondas (Les Pallieres, Vin de Pays and Ventoux ). All of the wines are high quality and will be reviewed in part 2 of this report. To give you an idea on yields from this estate, in 2010 they reported yields of 27 hectoliters per hectare, 2011 was 32 hectoliters per hectare and 2012 came in at 30 hectoliters per hectare. Drink 2016-2027.
Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate #209, Oct 2013