The 2016 vintage in the Southern Rhone and in particular, Chateauneuf du Pape is said to have surpassed the 2015, 2007 and is on par with the utterly splendid and future legend, 2010: Michel Chapoutier believes it could be better than 1990. There were warm conditions throughout the year, getting off to an early and excellent start with no excessive humidity. The summer arrived early and in turn flowering progressed under perfect conditions. The second half of the year passed with warm and dry weather. Immediately after harvest winemakers were declaring the conditions as the best since 1998. These sublime climatic conditions have resulted in wines with great colour, fruit concentration, rich tannin and intense flavor. The quality is high throughout, yet the best producers have made some of the potentially greatest Rhones ever. The good news also is that even among the finest, prices remain excellent and we posit Southern Rhone in 2016 will offer some of the best quality you can get anywhere. We advise collectors to fill their boots.
Today we are delighted to be able to release one of the leading Estates, Vieux Telegraphe. It is a leading light in the Rhone valley and remains one of the best priced great wines of the world. We released the 94-point scoring 2015 last year for £175 per case of six, which has since risen 20% to £210. Today’s release price for the 2016 is £210, which looks like a very strong buy. With 94-96 points from Joe Czerwinski, the Wine Advocate’s new Rhone critic. As such, it is one of the highest scores on release ever, the 2010 which currently has 97 points was originally awarded 91-94, the 2007 was awarded 94-96 points on release, then latterly 96+. Vieux Telegraphe tends to surpass its barrel score and as such the 2016 will likely join the 2010 as their finest modern vintage. Indeed, with a score of 94-96 and priced today at £210 per case of six, it displays the lowest Price Over Points Ratio (POP) of any vintage, with a superb score of 28. We regard a POP score below 30 for any leading wine as a no brainer. Moreover, priced at £35 a bottle, it must be considered as among, if not the best price leading wines of the world.
The Brunier family have been producing wines in Chateauneuf du Pape for over 100 years, founded by Hippolyte Brunier the great-grandfather of the current guardians. He chose to name the wine after a signal tower built in 1793 by Claude Chappe, who was the inventor of the optical telegraph. The first vintage was made in 1900.
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 terrain 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.
Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape 2016, 6×75 – £210 IB 3×150 – £215 IB
Other Formats Available On Request
94-96 Points, Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate Pts
In contrast to the Piedlong, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape is a darker, richer wine. Yes, there are ripe cherries but also cola, blueberries and spice. Full-bodied and rich, it should easily outdistance the 2015.
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