2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Château de Beaucastel
Jeb Dunnuck - 31/10/2014
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobsinson.com - Jan 2014
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.
Grenache (Noir) is widely grown and comes in a variety of styles. Believed to originate in Spain, it was, in the late 20th century, the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. Today it hovers around seventh in the pecking order. It tends to produce very fruity, rich wines that can range quite widely in their level of tannin.
In many regions – most famously the Southern Rhône, where it complements Syrah and Mourvèdre, among other grapes – it adds backbone and colour to blends, but some of the most notable Châteauneuf du Pape producers (such as Château Rayas) make 100 percent Grenache wines. The grape is a component in many wines of the Languedoc (where you’ll also find its lighter-coloured forms, Grenache Gris and Blanc) and is responsible for much southern French rosé – taking the lead in most Provence styles.
Found all over Spain as Garnacha Tinta (spelt Garnaxa in Catalonia), the grape variety is increasingly detailed on wine labels there. Along with Tempranillo, it forms the majority of the blend for Rioja’s reds and has been adopted widely in Navarra, where it produces lighter styles of red and rosado (rosé). It can also be found operating under a pseudonym, Cannonau, in Sardinia.
Beyond Europe, Grenache is widely planted in California and Australia, largely thanks to its ability to operate in high temperatures and without much water. Particularly in the Barossa Valley, there are some extraordinary dry-farmed bush vines, some of which are centuries old and produce wines of startling intensity.
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Our 2012 Rhône Vintage Recommendation: Favourite Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Lovely dense blackberry Mourvedre fruit on the nose with an amazing amount of pure fruit on the palate too ; the most I can remember from a vintage of Beaucastel. Intense with great balance and dexterity, crisp acidity and fine ripe tannins. This will perhaps be more forward than many vintages of this wine, but only time will tell.
Chris Pollington, Private Account Manager
Respectfully reserved, this has that understated quality only to be expected from Château de Beaucastel’s flagship wine. While it tastes closed today, there’s an awful lot more to come, this would be one to secure in magnums for drinking late, late into the 2020s.
Tom Cave, Cellar Plan Manager
All 13 varieties are, we are assured, included in the final assemblage of this famous wine, with, of the lesser shareholders, Counoise and Vaccarèse especially favoured, lending, as they do, smoky intensity and spicy grip to the ensemble. It is fascinating to taste the individual varieties, one by one, and to assess how they may influence the assemblage. Blending day at Beaucastel must be an extraordinary experience, given the quality of its results.
Simon Field MW, Rhône Wine Buyer
It is hard not to like the Perrins, be it the genial Marc, the technical Pierre, the urbane François, or any other member of this extended and delightful family. The winery evokes a cathedral, rather like some of the Bodegas in Jerez, with its crypt full of maturing bottles which almost recalls Champagne. Most impressive of all, however, is the honesty, humility and industry of the whole team, who will never rest on their laurels. The happy corollary of this is the quality of the wines, which, amazingly, just keeps getting better and better…
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