The famous plateau La Crau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Daniel Brunier,co-owner, and the wines tasted
A remarkable tasting was my second last in France, at Vieux Telegraphe. At first, Daniel Brunier took me on a tour across the vineyards of La Crau. This plateau, on the east side of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, is covered in large rocks. The clay soil starts a couple of meters below the surface. As a result, the waterholding capacity is good, but the roots have to go deep. They pick up many nutrients along the way.
The philosophy of the winery is to deliver finesse to the wines. This is more important than fruit. Only old oak is used, and grapes are often not destemmed.
The first wine I tasted was the 2014 Megaphone. This is a new wine from Ventoux. The grapes, 70% Grenache, 30% Shiraz, are quite young. Still, the wine is not overly fruit forward, but quite restrained (90 points). Then came the 2012 Les Pallieres, Les Racines from Gigondas. This 62 acre vineyard sits in the lower part of an amphitheatre. It is 80% Grenache, with 30% stems. The wine is a bit austere, with minerality flavours a key feature, before finishing on firm tannins (90 points).
The next red was the first from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the 2012 Telegramme. This 60% Grenache based wine is pretty. It is fresh and elegant, with quite a soft mouthfeel (92 points). Then it gets more complex with the 2011 Piedlong. This wine is based on 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre. 50% of the grapes are not destemmed. Flavours are sour cherry, and there are salty notes as well. The palate is firm, yet elegant, with quite a unique profile (93 points).
Then we compared two Vieux Telegraphe. The current one is from 2012. It is a GSM blend, with 65% Grenache. The vines are 70 years old on average. 30% of the grapes are not destemmed. This is a wine of intense fruit flavours, yet elegant and with great balance (95 points). The 2001 comes from a comparable vintage. It is still fresh, has again a bit of the saltiness on the palate, with silky tannins and a lift on the finish (96 points).
What I admired about these wines is the common philosophy that was expressed in them. Here was not a series of individual wines, but a thread that cut across them. Beautiful balance, finesse, clearly a great ability to age. I fell in love with this wine style.