Times are very good in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CNDP), the 2017 vintage is the third consecutive banner year, maybe the finest run of great vintages in its long history. The 2016s rightly draw comparison in the Southern Rhone to the magnificent defining 1982 Bordeaux vintage, with ample production and stellar quality. The 2017 vintage saw rain and heatwaves, in an otherwise superb growing season. Poor fruit set caused a 50% reduction in Grenache. However, the grapes were harvested early, the berries small and concentrated, producing superb wines, yet greatly reducing yields. This is great news in terms of quality and 2017 has produced a plethora of age-worthy wines.
The epitome of this excellence is Beaucastel’s Hommage a Jacques Perrin, which in 2017 has received a 100 points from Rhone specialist Jeb Dunnuck. Joe Czerwinski of The Wine Advocate has also awarded it 97-100 points, who calls it ‘a seriously great wine’. It is incredibly rare, producing less than 300 cases per year and only made in excellent vintages. As such, it takes pride of place alongside Romanee Conti, Le Pin and Screaming Eagle as one of the world’s rarest and most prestigious wines. Its debut vintage, the 1989, was awarded 100 points as was the 1990. Since these seminal vintages, Beaucastel’s Hommage a Jacques Perrin also scored 100 points in 1998 and 2007. It is priced today on release at £790 per case of three. Indeed, with the 2018 promising to be another 100 point wine, 2015 to 2018 mark the finest years in this wines history.
Hommage a Jacques Perrin is a wine of huge power and structure and boasts stunning purity of fruit. Its cepage differs from Beaucastel, made from a larger percentage of Mourvedre, up to 60%, 20% Grenache, 10% Counoise and 10% Syrah, from the very oldest vines. The wine is aged for 12 to 18 months in used and new French oak barrels. Hommage a Jacques Perrin is considered the most age-worthy wine of the entire Chateauneuf du Pape region. It is also its rarest and most desirable wine.
Their Mouvedre is grown on almost one third of their land and is arguably the best example of this grape anywhere in the world. The vineyard is 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 Estate was transformed in 1903 by a young chemical engineer named Pierre Perrin, who with his father-in-law returned it to past glories after the region was atrophied by phylloxera. Jacques Perrin drove it forward in the 1950s by introducing new technologies and innovations. Today the vineyard continues to be treated with wonderful care; minimal sulphur is permitted and no chemical fertilisers 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 and François Perrin continue to balance tradition with innovation.
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