2006 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape ( Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
Beaucastel Vineyards, Wines, Winemaking
Beaucastel, like all great wine estates is located on a unique terroir, situated in the far, north east of Chateauneuf du Pape in Coudoulet. The terroir consist of sandstone that is covered by a massive array of multi colored rocks, stone and limestone soil. The rocks reflect the sunlight and hold in the heat from the sun. The heat transfers to the vines at night. The terroir at Beaucastel also affords natural drainage. Another key component to Beaucastel and much of Chateauneuf du Pape is the wind known as the Mistral, which keeps the air clean and the terroir dry.
Beaucastel owns 130 hectares of land. Of those 130 hectares, only 100 hectares are planted to vines. 70 of those hectares are located in Chateauneuf du Pape in the Chapouin and Coudoulet lieux-dits. The other 30 hectares are situated in the Cotes du Rhone appellation of Coudoulet. Beaucastel is known for having plantings of all 13 grape varietals allowed by AOC law. Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardan, Bourboulenc and Roussanne. Interestingly, while Beaucastel is known for using all 13 grape varieties, for the red wine, they also include close to 5% of their white grape varieties in the final blend as well.
As you would expect, Grenache is much of the heart and soul of Chateauneuf du Pape. But t Beaucastel, Mourvedre also plays a very, significant role in their wines. A good portion of the Mourvedre came from cuttings taken from Domaine Tempier, in Bandol. Beaucastel was one of the first growers in the appellation add a sizable amount of Mourvedre to their vineyards. This is quite apparent in their wines today, as Mourvedre is a much more interesting grape, once the vines have gotten old.
The vineyard of Beaucastel is farmed using sustainable farming techniques. In fact, Beaucastel was one of the first estates in Chateauneuf du Pape to begin to farm their vineyards organically. This was quite risky when they started it in 1950. By 1974, they were also one of the first to farm using biodynamic farming techniques.
After sorting, the grapes are completely destemmed. Beaucastel macerates each of the grape varieties separately in enamel coated vats. While the grapes that are whole bunch fermented, (meaning that the stems are still intact), takes place in a combination of cement and steel vats. Malolactic fermentation also takes place with the varieties separated. At the start of the wine making process, Beaucastel quickly heats up the skins of the grapes until they reach a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius or 176 Fahrenheit. After a short time at that high heat, about 20 seconds, the fruit is cooled back down to 20 degrees Celsius for fermentation.
The purpose allowing the grapes the short term exposure to heat at Beaucastel is to remove select enzymes and in the process, this retards oxidation, and slows fermentation, allowing for more freshness and purity in the fruit. In turn, the process will decrease the time needed for the extraction process. This patented technique is used more often than not with Grenache and most of the time, it is reserved for use in the more difficult years. The thought process is that a rapid extraction decreases the amount of undesirable characteristics, while retaining as much fruit and freshness as possible. The idea behind the warming of the grapes came to Beaucastel because they noted, it was a practice in Burgundy to heat a portion of the must
After the initial fermentation has concluded, the wine is blended before being placed in large oak foudres for about a year of aging. The Syrah is aged in separate barrels, some of which are new, French oak and is blended in later. For the aging of the wine, and for storage of their bottled wines, during the 1980's, Beaucastel completed construction of the largest underground cellar in the Rhone Valley.
The best vintages of Chateau Beaucastel are: 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2005, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1995, 1990, 1989 and 1981. Older vintages of Chateau Beaucastel are quite are difficult to find> But with the estates incredible track record for producing extremely age-worthy wines, they might be worth giving a try.
For their red wine, Chateau Beaucastel produces 4 wines; Beaucastel, Coudoulet de Beaucastel and Les Sinards along with the rare, expensive and sublime, Hommage a Jacques Perrin.
Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape is usually a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, 5% Cinsault and 5% and other assorted varieties that could include up to 13 different grape types in all. One of the most famous Chateauneuf du Pape wines in the world, the average production is close to 8,000 cases per year.
Beaucastel Hommage Jacques Perrin
Beaucastel Hommage a Jacques Perrin is a different wine than Beaucastel in taste, feel, blend and price. The wine is produced by using a much larger percentage of old vine Mourvedre, which can be up to 60% of the blend, depending on the vintage. While the blend varies from year to year, yet is often close to 60% Mourvedre, 20% old vine Grenache, 10% Counoise and 10% Syrah. The grapes are destemmed and the wine is aged in an average of 12 to 18 months in used, French oak barrels. The grapes are vinified separately as is the press wine.
Out of the entire Chateauneuf du Pape appellation, this wine can probably be aged the longest. In fact, it does not begin to show well without several years, if not decades of bottle age. The wine is only produced in the best years. The debut vintage for Hommage a Jacques Perrin was 1989. The production is quite small as on average, close to 350 cases are produced each vintage.
Beaucastel produces three Chateauneuf du Pape white wines, Beaucastel Blanc, Beaucastel Blanc Vieille Vignes and Les Sinards. They also make a white Coudoulet de Beaucastel. Part of what makes the white wine of Beaucastel so unique is their blend, which always incorporates such a massive amount of Roussanne, when compared with other producers in the region.
Generally speaking, Beaucastel Blanc is usually produced from a blend of 80% Roussanne and 5% Grenache Blanc with the remaining 5% coming from an assemblage of Clairette, Bourboulenc and Picardan. The vines are old. A good portion of the fruit was planted in 1950. To produce the white of of Beaucastel, vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks. Following malolactic fermentation for most of the production, the wine is aged in a combination of 50% French, oak barrels that are one of age while the rest of the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks. Beaucastel Blanc Tradition has a production of close to 1,800 cases per year.
Beaucastel Vieille Vignes is produced from 100% Roussanne that comes from some of the oldest Roussanne vines in the Southern Rhone, with vines that are close to 80 years of age on average. They also have vines that are more than 100 years of age as they were planted in 1909. Beaucastel Vieille Vignes made its debut with the 1986 vintage. Beaucastel Vieille Vignes is aged in a combination of stainless steel tank and new and used, French oak barrels. Very little Beaucastel Blanc Vieille Vignes is produced. On average, the production is close to 500 cases of wine per year. The Beaucastel Vieille Vignes is an extremely long lived wine that often tastes much better at 20 - 30 years of age, than it does in its fruit fruit forward, exuberant youth.
Serving and Decanting Beaucastel with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips
Beaucastel is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Young vintages can be popped and poured, or decanted for 1-2 hours. Beaucastel Hommage Jacques Perrin can be decanted 3-4 hours. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Beaucastel Rouge is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised, grilled dishes, sausage and cassoulet. Beaucastel Rouge is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, mushrooms and pasta.
The white wine of Beaucastel is best served with a myriad of different seafood dishes, shellfish, crab, lobster, sushi, sashimi, chicken, pork and veal, as well as Asian cuisine.
The Perrin family also maintain a partnership in California with Robert Haas called Tablas Creek. Formed in 1989, the California winery focuses on producing Rhone styled wine with both red and white Rhone varietals.
In 2013, the Perrin family entered into a partnership with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to produce Miraval, an organic Rose' wine from their Provencal estate. Miraval also produces 2 white wines, a blend of of Grenache Blanc and Rolle, as well as a wine from 100% Rolle. Needless to say, Miraval is now the world's most popular Rose and wine from the Cotes de Provence. In 2015, Miraval became the first rose' as well as the first wine in the entire Provence appellation to add anti counterfeiting measures to their bottle. To prevent the type of forgeries that anything to do with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie attract, Miraval comes in a unique curve shaped bottle. The bottle is also etched with the word Miraval at the bottom of the bottle.
Starting with the 2009 vintage, Beaucastel became one of the first wines outside of Bordeaux to be sold on the Place de Bordeaux by Bordeaux negociants. The Perrin family also produces one of the best red and white wines from their 30 hectares of vines in the Cotes du Rhone.