Château de Beaucastel
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about Château de Beaucastel
Some would argue that Beaucastel needs no introduction, but this website aims to cater for both, wine-lovers and beginners, and therefore I will continue. Beaucastel is regarded by many as one of the top estates, if not the top estate, of Châteauneuf du Pape, in the Southern Rhône Valley. Whereas others focus on Grenache, with a mixture of other varieties, Beaucastel uses a high proportion of Mourvèdre, matching the contribution from Grenache in the final blend.
Beaucastel also often receives criticism for the influence of Brettanomyces, a yeast that is present throughout the vineyard and winery, and may impart animalistic, organic elements to the aromas and flavours of the wine, which some may find unpleasant. This is a contentious issue, because some attribute these aromas to the high proportion of Mourvèdre used. As if this were not enough, the Perrin brothers, who run Beaucastel, also subject the must to heat on entry to the winery. This is purportedly to prevent oxidation, improve extraction of anthrocyanins from the grape skins, which impart colour and flavour, slows fermentation and avoids the use of sulphur. The practice has plenty of detractors, who recognise that this manipulation in the winery is out of keeping with, firstly, practice elsewhere in the Châteauneuf du Pape and the Rhône Valley as a whole and, secondly, with the concept that great wine is the result of careful vineyard management and minimal intervention in the cellar. Despite these concerns, with which I concur, the process does not seem to prevent the Perrin brothers regularly creating, in my opinion, one of the top wines of appellation.
The Perrin brothers harvest and vinify the thirteen varieties separately. Only the Syrah sees some new oak, the rest being stored in old foudres in the Beaucastel cellars, until the different components are blended in the Spring following the harvest. The bottling occurs in a single phase, a relatively recent phenomenon in the Rhône Valley, where in the past many producers would have had two or even three bottlings, effectively producing two or three different cuvées from the same vintage - although there would be no clue to this on the label.
The grand vin is named Chateau de Beaucastel, of which ten different vintages are tasted here. In my opinion this is the most significant wine produced by this estate, despite production running to perhaps 25000 cases per year. There are, however, other wines. Doubtless the most sought after is the Hommage à Jacques Perrin, a super-cuvée strong on Mourvèdre, produced in only the best vintages, commencing with the 1989. There are also two white cuvées from Beaucastel, both based on Roussanne, and bottled under the Châteauneuf du Pape AC. These are a straight white Chateau de Beaucastel Blanc, as well as a Roussanne Vieilles Vignes cuvée. The cépage for Beaucastel Blanc is 80% Roussanne and 20% Grenache Blanc, which originate from a 7 hectare plot close to the Beaucastel property, the soils of which are covered with the large galets which characterise the vineyards of Châteauneuf. After an initial sort in the vineyard followed by a second at the winery, the grapes are lightly pressed and fermented, one third in barrel, the remainder in stainless steel. After malolactic the wine is aged partly in oak and partly in vat for about eight months prior to bottling.
Good value can be had from Coudoulet de Beaucastel, a Côtes du Rhône (both red and white) produced from vines just outside the boundaries of Châteauneuf du Pape. The Perrin also run a négociant business, and decent value wines may be found here also. Initially these wines were from the Côtes du Luberon and Côtes du Rhône appellations, and sold under the name La Vieille Ferme. Now, however, there is a range of wines from appellations closer to home such as Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas, bottled under a variety of names.
Location and other informationChâteau de Beaucastel