Among the prominent people in the town of Courthezon during the sixteenth century was the Beaucastel family. In 1549, “Noble Pierre de Beaucastel” bought “a barn with its land holdings, containing 25 saumées at Coudoulet”. More than four centuries later, this remarkable domaine, known today at Château de Beaucastel, is producing what most people acknowledge to be the finest wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In 1903, a young chemical engineer and mathematics professor named Pierre Perrin, together with his father-in-law, began to restore the domaine following the ravages of phylloxera. His son, Jacques Perrin, took over the domaine in 1953 and introduced many innovations such as improved grape varietals, integrated pest control, and a flash-heat exchanger. Today, the third and fourth generations of Perrins, François and Jean-Pierre and Jean-Pierre’s sons Pierre, Marc and Thomas, continue in the tradition of their father and grandfather. The vineyards of Beaucastel are treated as a garden: no chemical fertilizer, no chemical week killers or sprays are permitted. Organic fertilizer comes from compost and only a minimum of traditional sulphur-copper spray is used in the vineyards. The vineyard is planted in all the traditional grapes of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardin, Bourboulenc, and Roussanne.
Beaucastel’s 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape has turned out even better out of bottle than I predicted. An inky/ruby/purple color is followed by a glorious nose of blue and black fruits, truffles, pen ink, licorice, and meat juices as well as glorious levels of acidity and sweet tannin, buttressing the fruit’s fabulous freshness and vibrancy. This full-bodied effort still displays considerable tannin, no doubt because of the relatively high Mourvedre content. It should resolve its tannins in 2-4 years, and last for 25 or more. #185Oct 2009
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