Chateauneuf du Pape remains one of the finest and best priced regions in the world. Indeed, over recent years it has been experiencing a run of superb vintages. The newest vintage to release is the 2018, which is coming to the market now. The vintage experienced a rainy winter, replenishing the water reserves depleted by the drought of 2017. Flowering occurred under superb conditions. There was some rain in June, causing mildew, while the rest of the summer progressed under warm conditions, culminating in a perfect September. The grapes were harvested under ideal conditions, with berries perfectly ripe, minimal disease, good tannin and healthy acidity levels. Such conditions draw immediate parallel with the mighty 2016 vintage and in some cases, such as Beaucastel, this is certainly fair, though overall, the feeling is that the 2018s have the richness of 2017 and the vibrancy of 2016. They will certainly outshine the very fine 2017s and be considered a very good vintage.
Today we are delighted to release two of the finest wines, not only of Chateauneuf du Pape, or Rhone, but the world. Indeed, we consider these two amongst the finest priced and age-worthy of all wines which perennially offer the finest value of all leading fine wines. In 2018 Chateau Beaucastel has been awarded 95-97 points from The Wine Advocate and 94-96+ from Jeb Dunnuck, making it one of the greatest ever from here, with the potential to match the 2016, capable of reaching the heights of the legendary 1989 and 1990 which trade at £1,000 a case. The price of the 2018 is a superb £270 per case of six, giving it a Price Over Points ratio (POP) of 33.75, superb for a market leading wine.
Beaucastel’s vineyards are situated at the north-eastern end of the appellation, a short walk from the famous town of Orange. The estate has remarkable terroir, abounded by rolling pebbles on the surface, the subsoil contains an abundance of clay, which perfectly retains the vines’ water supply during the long hot summer days. The vineyard continues to be treated with wonderful care: minimal sulphur is permitted, no chemical fertiliser or weed killers are used. They vinify in large old barrels (foudres) and only the Syrah is exposed to new oak. The estate has a bright future as Jacques’ sons Jean Pierre Perrin and François Perrin continue to balance tradition with innovation. The blend is a heady mix of the famous CNDP grapes, 30% Mouvedre, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Counise, 5% Cinsault, balanced with other varietals. Their Mouvedre is grown on almost one-third of the land and arguably the best example of this grape anywhere in the world.
The other great wine we are releasing today is Vieux Telegraphe, which has already been awarded 93-95 points from Jeb Dunnuck placing it again firmly among their finest modern vintages. Priced today on release at £210 per case of six, the value is staggering, with an even lower POP score of 30, the remarkable wine offers incredible depth and pedigree. Prices for Chateauneuf, particularly considering their yield restrictions, are set to rise over the coming years and prices like today’s release price will become a distant memory.
Vieux Telegraphe produces four wines from their 65 hectares, however, the best come from the very old vines in the ‘La Crau’ plot, which is now shown on the label. The best section is densely populated with large and small stones known as ‘galets’ several inches across which retain heat very well and reflect it up onto the vines during both day and night. It is here that their prestige wine Vieux Telegraphe is made from fruit derived from the oldest vines. This great wine evokes the conception of this region’s terroir in its purest form, a combination of the climate and extraordinary terroir and soil, while the vineyard’s high altitude gets full exposure from the sun. The exceptional Vieux Telegraphe is typically a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault and 10% Syrah. The grapes are hand harvested and moved by gravity flow to the vatting room, where they ferment the incredibly concentrated and ripe fruit and age it in cement for ten months, followed by 12 months in 50-70hl oak ‘foudres’. Vieux Telegraphe on average produces 16,000 cases a year.
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