Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge

Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, 2010

  • icon-type Type

    Red

  • icon-year Year

    2010

  • icon-style Style

    Dry

  • icon-country Country

    France

  • icon-alcohollevel Alcohol level

    14.5%

  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Grenache 30%, Mourvedre 30%, Syrah 10%, Counoise 10%

Nearly black in colour. The nose is very delicate and powerful at the same time, with red fruit, blackcurrants, blackberries, spices, thyme and lavender. The bouquet is very elegant, rich and round, with figs, cherries, blackcurrants and stewed fruit, all with great acidity. The tannins are present but very delicate.

About Château de Beaucastel

Château de Beaucastel is a winery located in the southern part of the Rhône valley in France, which is primarily noted for its Châteauneuf du Pape wines produced in a long-lived style. For its red Châteauneuf du Pape, Beaucastel includes all 13 grape varieties that are traditionally part of the blend, and uses a higher-than-usual proportion of Mourvèdre. The special Vielles Vignes cuvée of Beaucastel's white Châteauneuf du Pape is a varietal Roussanne wine, which is rare in Rhône and rarer in Châteauneuf du Pape.

Château de Beaucastel holds a total of 130 hectares (320 acres) of land, of which 100 hectares (250 acres) is planted with vineyards, three-quarters of which is within the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation.

The winery takes its name from the Beaucastel family which lived in Courthézon in the middle of the 16th century. Records show a Pierre de Beaucastel buying a barn and some associated land at Coudoulet in 1549, and this land is still part of Château de Beaucastel's holdings. However, at this time it was an agricultural property. In 1792, the owner was called Etienne Gontard, and the first certain mentioning of vines on the property are from his inheritance 40 years later.

In the 19th century, when the Phylloxera epidemic struck the region, the owner of the domaine was Élie Dussaud, who decided not to replant the vineyards but rather to sell the property. In 1909, it was bought by Pierre Tramier, and the vineyards were rebuilt under his ownership. After him, his son-in-law Pierre Perrin took over, and expanded Château de Beaucastel's vineyard holdings considerably. The property has stayed in the Perrin family since. After Pierre Perrin, Beaucastel was managed by Jacques Perrin until 1978, and after that Jacques' sons Jean Pierre Perrin and François Perrin.

In 1990 Jean-Pierre and François Perrin in collaboration with wine importer Robert Haas founded Tablas Creek Vineyard within the California viticultural area of Paso Robles. In 2006, the Perrin family and Château de Beaucastel joined Primum Familiae Vini, an association of a limited number of high-end family-owned wineries.

Beaucastel generally vinifies the components for its wines in large, old barrels (foudres), with only Syrah exposed to some new oak. The different grape varieties are vinified separately and later blended.

A somewhat contentious aspect of Beaucastel winemaking is that the wines often show Brettanomyces character, which in most cases are considered a defect, but which is also typical for wines high in Mourvèdre.

The Château de Beaucastel range consists of six wines, of which four are Châteauneuf du Pape and two are Côtes du Rhône:

  • Red Château de Beaucastel, a blend of 13 grape varieties with a significant proportion of Mourvèdre.
  • White Château de Beaucastel, a blend of 80% Roussanne and 20% Grenache Blanc.
  • Hommage à Jacques Perrin, a special cuvée red Châteauneuf du Pape produced only in better years. 1989 was the first vintage.
  • Roussanne Vieilles Vignes, a white Châteauneuf du Pape from old vine Roussanne.
  • Red Coudoulet de Beaucastel, a Côtes du Rhône from vineyards just to the east of the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation border, with a high proportion of Mourvèdre.
  • White Coudoulet de Beaucastel, a Côtes du Rhône from vineyards just to the east of the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation border.
Grape variety
Counoise

Counoise is a dark-skinned wine grape grown primarily in the Rhône valley region of France. Counoise is also grown in California and Washington. Counoise adds a peppery note and good acidity to a blended red wine, but does not have much depth of colour or tannin.

Counoise is one of the grapes allowed into the blend of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine. In 2004 only 0.5% of the appellation's area was planted with Counoise. Some producers who favour the variety use about 5% of it in their blends, and those account for most of the plantings. One such producer is Château de Beaucastel, which is noted for using all the 13 allowed varieties.

Alternative Names: Auban, Connoise

Grenache

Grenache or Garnacha is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain, where the grape most likely originated. It is also grown in the Italian isle of Sardinia, the south of France, Australia, and California's Monterey AVA and San Joaquin Valley.

It is generally spicy, berry-flavoured and soft on the palate and produces wine with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. Characteristic flavour profiles on Grenache include red fruit flavours (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note. Grenache wines are highly prone to oxidation, with even young examples having the potential to show browning (or "bricking") coloration that can be noticed around the rim when evaluating the wine at an angle in the glass. As Grenache ages the wines tend to take on more leather and tar flavours. Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and colour, and it is often blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Carignan, Tempranillo, and Cinsaut.

In Spain, there are mono-varietal wines made of Garnacha tinta (red Grenache), notably in the southern Aragon wine regions of Calatayud, Carinena and Campo de Borja, but it is also used in blends, as in some Rioja wines with tempranillo. Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is typically over 80% of the blend. In Australia it is typically blended in "GSM" blends with Syrah (commonly known as Shiraz in that country) and Mourvèdre with old vine examples in McLaren Vale. In Italy, the Sardinian D.O.C. wine Cannonau di Sardegna is by law 90% local Grenache (Cannonau). Grenache is also used to make rosé wines in France and Spain, notably those of the Tavel district in the Côtes du Rhône and those of the Navarra region. And the high sugar levels of Grenache have led to extensive use in fortified wines, including the red vins doux naturels of Roussillon such as Banyuls, and as the basis of most Australian fortified wine.

Grenache is often used as a blending component, adding body and sweet fruitiness to a wine. The grape can be troublesome for the winemaker due to tendency to oxidize easily and lose colour. To compensate for the grape's naturally low tannins and phenolic compounds, some producers will use excessively harsh pressing and hot fermentation with stems to extract the maximal amount of colour and phenols from the skins. This can backfire to produce green, herbaceous flavours and coarse, astringent wine lacking the grape's characteristic vibrant fruitiness. To maintain those character traits, Grenache responds best to a long, slow fermentation at cooler temperatures followed by a maceration period. To curb against oxidation, the wine should be racked as little as possible. The use of new oak barrels can help with retaining colour and preventing oxidation but too much oak influence can cover up the fruitiness of Grenache.

The high levels of sugars and lack of harsh tannins, makes Grenache well adapted to the production of fortified wines, such as the vin doux naturels (VDN) of the Roussillon region and the "port-style" wines of Australia. In these wines, the must ferments for three days before grape spirit is added to the must to halt the fermentation and the conversion of sugar into alcohol. The high alcoholic proof grape spirit brings the finished wine up to 15–16% alcohol. These wines can be made in a rancio style by being left outside in glass demi-johns (or carboys) or wooden barrels where the wine bakes in the sun for several years until it develops a maderized character and flavours of sour raisins, nuts and cheese. These fortified VDNs and port-style wines have longevity and can be drinkable well into their third decade.

Alternative Names: Alicante, Cannonau, Garnacha, Garnacha Tinta, Garnatxa, Granaccia, Grenache Noir, Lladoner, Tinto Aragones, Tocai Rosso

Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre is a red wine grape variety grown in many regions around the world including the Rhône and Provence regions of France, the Valencia and Jumilla denominaciones de origen of Spain, as well as the Balearic Islands, California and Washington and the Australian regions of South Australia and New South Wales, as well as South Africa. In addition to making red varietal wines, Mourvèdre is a prominent component in "GSM" (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) blends. The variety is also used to make rosé and port-style fortified wines.

Mourvèdre tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol. The style of wine produced from the grapes varies greatly according to where it is produced, but according to wine expert Jancis Robinson Mourvèdre wines often have wild game, or earthy notes to them, with soft red fruit flavours. According to wine expert Oz Clarke, young Mourvèdre can come across as faulted due to the reductive, sulfur notes and "farmyard-y" flavours that some wines can exhibit before those flavours mellow with age.

The variety can be a difficult grape to grow, preferring "its face in the hot sun and its feet in the water" meaning that it needs very warm weather, a low leaf-to-fruit ratio but adequate water or irrigation to produce intensely flavoured fruit that is not overly jammy or herbaceous. The vines' susceptibility to many viticultural hazards such as powdery and downy mildew as well as overly vigorous foliage can present additional problems for vine growers.

The small, thick-skin berries of Mourvèdre are high in phenolic compounds that have the potential to produce a deeply coloured, very tannic wine with significant alcohol levels if harvested at high sugar levels. However, the variety is rarely harvested at sugar levels below 13% alcohol (approx 23 Brix) because the flavours at those lower levels are often very weak and herbaceous. In winemaking, wines made from Mourvèdre are prone to both oxidation and reductive flavours (such as hydrogen sulphide) if care is not taken at the winery. While in Bandol, it is common to ferment Mourvèdre with the stems, the grapes usually go through a crusher/destemmer in New World regions such as a California due to the harsher, green tannins that are more typical of the stems in those regions. While the wine can be stored in oak barrels, it often does not absorb oak flavours as well as other varieties (such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) so it is often stored in neutral oak or large format barrels.

In many regions of the world, Mourvèdre is often blended with other varieties such as Grenache and Syrah in the "GSM" blends of Rhône, Australia and the United States. In these blends, Mourvèdre often provides colour, fruit and some tannic structure to complement the fruity Grenache and elegant Syrah. In Provence and Rhône it also sometimes blended with Cinsault and Carignan as part of both red table wines and rosé. In Australia, the variety is sometimes used in fortified port-style wines.

According to wine expert Jancis Robinson, in favourable vintages Mourvèdre can produce highly perfumed wines with intense fruit flavours and notes of blackberries and gamy or meaty flavours. Oz Clarke notes that some examples of Mourvèdre may come across as faulted in their youth with "farmyard-y" and strong herbal flavours. As the wine ages, more earthy tertiary aromas may develop before becoming more leather and gingerbread aroma notes.

In both Old and New World wine regions, Mourvèdre is a popular grape to be used in rosé winemaking. These wines can be made as a dedicated rosé where the skins are allowed only a brief period of skin contact (a few hours or a single day) before they are pressed or as saignée where some of the juice destined for a red Mourvèdre is "bled off" during fermentation creating two separate wines - a darker, more concentrated red wine and the lighter rosé.

Alternative Names: Monastrell, Mataro, Esparte, Etrangle-Chien

Syrah

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce red wine. In 1999, Syrah was found to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from south-eastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880.

The style and flavour profile of wines made from Syrah are influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown with moderate climates (such as the northern Rhone Valley and parts of the Walla Walla AVA in Washington State) tending to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper. In hot climates (such as Crete, and the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions of Australia), Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of liquorice, anise and earthy leather. In many regions the acidity and tannin levels of Syrah allow the wines produced to have favourable aging potential.

Syrah is used as a single varietal or as a blend. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world's 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres). It can be found throughout the globe from France to New World wine regions such as: Chile, South Africa, the Hawke's Bay, Waiheke, New Zealand, California and Washington. It can also be found in several Australian wine regions such as: Barossa, Heathcote, Coonawarra, Hunter Valley, Margaret River and McLaren Vale

Wines made from Syrah are often powerfully flavoured and full-bodied. The variety produces wines with a wide range of flavour notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices chosen. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries (usually dark as opposed to red), chocolate, and black pepper. No one aroma can be called "typical" though blackberry, coffee and pepper are often noticed. With time in the bottle these "primary" notes are moderated and then supplemented with earthy or savoury "tertiary" notes such as leather and truffle. "Secondary" flavour and aroma notes are those associated with several things, generally winemakers' practices (such as oak barrel and yeast treatment).

The Syrah-dominated appellations (AOCs) of northern Rhône have, like most other French appellations and regions, no tradition of varietal labelling of their wines. Indeed, such practices are generally disallowed under AOC rules, and only the AOC name (such as Cote-Rotie, Crozes-Hermitage or Hermitage) appears on the label. Varietal labelling of Syrah/Shiraz wines is therefore a practice that has emerged in the New World, primarily in Australia.

To confuse matters, in northern Rhône, different clones of genuine Syrah are referred to as Petite Syrah (small Syrah) or Gros Syrah (large Syrah) depending on the size of their berries, with Petite Syrah being considered the superior version, giving wines higher in phenolics.

As a general rule, most Australian and South African wines are labelled "Shiraz", and most European wines (from such regions where varietal labelling is practiced) are labelled "Syrah". In other countries, practices vary and winemakers (or wine marketers) sometimes choose either "Syrah" or "Shiraz" to signify a stylistic difference in the wine they have made. "Syrah"-labelled wines are sometimes thought to be more similar to classic Northern Rhône reds; presumably more elegant, tannic, smoke-flavoured and restrained with respect to their fruit component. "Shiraz"-labelled wines, on the other hand, would then be more similar to archetypical Australian or other New World examples, presumably made from riper berries, more fruit-driven, higher in alcohol, less obviously tannic, peppery rather than smoky, usually more easily approached when young, and possibly slightly sweetish in impression. It must, however, be realised that this rule of thumb is unevenly applied.

Alternative Names: Shiraz, Hermitage

About Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a historic village between the towns of Orange and Avignon, in France's southern Rhône Valley. It is famous for powerful, full-bodied red wines made predominantly from the classic southern Rhône grape trio: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. These three varieties are behind the vast majority of the appellation's red wines, although a total of eighteen are approved for use – a mix of red and white grape varieties.

Grenache is king in the vineyards here. It is used in every Châteauneuf red to some extent, and many are made entirely from it. The variety performs better here than in any other French region, and contributes juicy, jammy red-fruit flavours and high potential alcohol. After Grenache, the next most important varieties are Syrah and Mourvèdre. Syrah grows most successfully in the town's cooler sites, and brings structure and spiced black-fruit notes to the blend. Late-ripening, sun-loving Mourvèdre flourishes only in the hotter, drier vineyards, and adds dark depths and bitter-chocolate notes.

Counoise is the only other red-wine variety to be grown here in any significant quantity. The others – Cinsaut, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Picpoul Noir, Terret Noir – are planted only in small quantities.

The vineyards here also produce white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, which are tangy, weighty and intensely perfumed. These are made from a number of rustic southern French varieties, most importantly Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc, but also a few which are entirely unknown outside southern France (Clairette Rosé, Grenache Gris, Picardin, Picpoul Blanc, Picpoul Gris).

The soils around Chateauneuf-du-Pape are pebbly and sandy, as is common in the southern half of the Rhône Valley. They are formed mostly of ancient riverbeds of various ages (the town and its vineyards are located just to the east of the Rhône river). The archetypal Châteauneuf vineyard is strewn with large pebbles known as galets, whose soft, rounded form stands in direct contrast to the gnarly, twisted vine trunks.

The climate here is Mediterranean and very dry (Châteauneuf-du-Pape is technically the driest of all Rhône appellations), which makes it all the more significant that arrosage (irrigation or watering) is strictly forbidden during the growing season. In extreme cases, the wineries must apply for special permission from the French government to water their vines.

The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape means "new castle of the Pope", and harks back to the early 14th Century, when Avignon was chosen as the new home for the Pope's court. The incumbent Pope at that time was Clement V, whose name also features in the ancient and prestigious Château Pape Clément in Graves. The town's name may be drenched in history, but as a wine title it has been prestigious for less than a century. Up until the early 20th century, the town's wines were anonymously grouped together with others from the Avignon area. This all changed in the 1920s, when Baron Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié (owner of Château Fortia) drafted a set of quality-focused production conditions for the town's wines – a document which became the precursor of France's famous appellation system. The official Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation title declared in June 1929 was one of the country's very first, and remains one of the most prestigious even today.

Curiously, the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape itself is also famous for a municipal decree added in the 1950s that bans flying saucers from taking off, landing, or flying over the vineyards.

Regular price $740.00

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