Château De Beaucastel

Château De Beaucastel Vertical Tasting

Château De Beaucastel is considered one of the greatest wines from the AOC of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhône. Owned by the Perrin family it is one of the few producers in the region that grows all 13 allowed grape varieties, these are; Mouvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Vacarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardan, Bourboulenc and Rousanne. Most producers in the area tend to focus on the main grapes Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre but Beaucastel generally has a split of 30% Mouvedre, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Cannoise, 5% Cinsault, with the rest being made of a blend of other grape varieties depending on the vintage.

They’re wines that are well known for having high levels of Brett and no that does not mean that some Aussie dude has been treading the grapes! Brett is short for Brettanomyces (British fungus, thanks Greeks!) a form of yeast that imparts a range of sensory characteristics such as farmyard, horse stable, sweaty saddle, band aids (not the concerts), as well as spice, clove, smoke & bacon. These can be off putting to some, especially when the levels are high but I’m rather a fan, it’s really a bit of a mar-mite thing, you either love it or you hate it. They also have some rather odd wine making techniques such as subjecting the must to heat in the winery to help with extraction and prevent oxidation, known as ‘a chaud’. Whatever they do, it seems to be working and some of their wines are truly outstanding and I would strongly advise tasting their wines of which there are six in three different tiers as follows.

Lower Tier

Coudoulet de Beaucastel (Red & White)

These are the entry level wines or baby Beaucastel’s if you will and are made

From the wider spread AOC Côtes du Rhône, however pretty much the same grape mix is used and the quality of these wines is still pretty high and they often have the potential to age well, a good introduction to Beaucastel.

Available from Roberson, Bordeaux Index, Fine + Rare £15-£18

Middle Tier

Château De Beaucastel (Red & White)

These are what we are focusing on for this tasting (well the red’s anyway), these are usually wines of a very high quality with exceptional ageing potential and a large amount of vintage variation but a character that shines through and has many fans all over the world.

These wines are widely available and you will be paying about £50+ a bottle. The Chateau De Beaucastel Blanc is a blend of 80% Rousanne & 20% Grenache Blanc and also well worth trying (it’s also usually cheaper than the red too).

Top Tier (a.k.a The Big Boys)

The white is a 100% Roussanne Vieilles Vignes (old vines) that is from a 3 hectare plot with vines aged at least 75 years, and undergoes further oak ageing. Available from Fine + Rare, Bibendum, Farr Vintners, average price is around £79

The top red is a highly sought after special cuvee that is only produced in great vintages in honour of Jacques Perrin, the father of the Perrin brothers that now run the estate. It is made mainly from very old Mourvedre vines that produce intensely rich fruit with the first vintage being produced in 1989 and now costing upwards of £800 a bottle. The wine has been made in the following vintages; 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999,

Right, enough talking, lets get stuck into the wines! Today we are tasting Chateau Beaucastel (red) from the following vintages 1990, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 & 2005

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1990
£156 Fine + Rare
Starting off with tertiary nose of aged tomato vine, rich dark earth and hoi sin. Some notes of dried garrigue fruit with good intensity, field mushroom and truffle.

On the palate this is still showing some great intensity, lively in the mouth with a good tension between tannin and acidity. Firm earthy red fruit with a a smoky characteristic, stalky tannin on the length which lingers. An interesting evolved nose but disappointing considering the renown of this great vintage, hopefully this was just down to bottle variation.
88ts
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1994
£72 Fine + Rare
A riper but less pronounced nose than the 90′ soft with subtle warming spice and raspberry, violets fresh and very approachable.

Again this is a lot fresher than the 90′ with acidity complementing fresh red currant fruit, slightly bitter on the finish. A little lacking in overall complexity but better than expected, fresh & drinking well at the moment.
89pts

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1995
£72 Fine + Rare
A more muscular wine with pretty intense red and black berry fruit, black olive hints of Provençal  herbs quite compact and meaty.

Grippy tannin and haunting dry red & black fruit, but diss appointing mid palate, smoky herbaceous length.  After the promise of the nose the palate lacks the same intensity.
87pts.
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1997
£38 Fine + Rare
Fantastic blackcurrent pastel, cassis fruit jumps out of the glass. Very fragrant mineral earthyness with black pepper spice and great depth of fruit.

Very well balanced with supple fruit that meanders through the palate. Firm but expressive black fruits dominate with spice and mineral notes showing on a long and enjoyable length. Very impressive stuff!
94pts

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Between 1995 & 1997we see some dig changes in the bottle used for the wine with a darker glass that offers more protection and a change in the embossed motif (l do like a motif, click here to find out why)

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1999
£50 Fine + Rare
Very dried fruit nose, sickly sweet showing  prune and fig fruit, beef stock reduction,  black olive, coco powder but  rather meaty.  Complex but feels a bit flabby and slightly over baked.

Palate vastly over-delivers on the nose. Tightly knitted tannin and acidity that lingers through the mid palate and in to the length. Succulent black fruit, very savory with sweet liquorice/herb notes lingering on the palate.
91pts

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2001
£74 Fine + Rare
Inky nose with truffle, cherry bakewell, meaty black olive notes. Rich but subtle and the most majestic nose so far.

Incredibly well tailored wine, balanced and refined, precise black fruit that linger’s all the way through the palate. Not showy  or overly dramatic this wine is pure class!
96pts
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2003
£53 Fine + Rare
Very Australian ‘Shiraz’ nose, black fruit that has that intense spice that just manages to avoid that rubbery Note that can be found in some Australian or South African wines. This does show ‘wedding cake’ mix of fruit cake & vanilla icing. Very new world-y with floral notes of violets and damson.
Rather twisted on the palate with swirling tannin and slightly  volatile acidity. A juicy red fruited mid palate. It lacking in far too many departments.
84pts

2005
£55 R&B Wines
Incredibly deep colour
Amazing depth and intensity of fruit, sweet spice. Great intensity but not overly done.
Fruit is already open but clearly has decades ahead of it a joy to drink eveImagen at this young stage in its life. Sweet fruit, firm but supple tannin and a great vein of acidity. Outstanding but still very young and closed, this is a keeper and should hugely reward further cellaring.94prs++

Final thoughts.

Well that was a seriously good tasting that really did give a good indication of what this estate is capable of making. The 1990 was showing rather poorly but as the old saying goes ‘There’s no such thing as a great wine, only a great bottle’. Of all the wines tasted my clear favorite was the 2001, a supremely well made wine that I will be trying to stock up on and would whole heartedly recommend along with the below.
                                                                                                                                               

ImageSome great wines here but my three stand out vintages are the 1997, 2001 and 2005

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