The elegant 2000 Vieux Telegraphe La Crau possesses 14.8% alcohol, along with a deep ruby/purple color, charming, rich, fruitiness, and firm tannin in the finish. With loads of freshness, copious quantities of pepper, seaweed, and black fruit characteristics, and a distinctive minerality, this full-bodied, sweet 2000 requires 2-3 years of cellaring; it should age well for 15-16 years. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2018.
This historic Châteauneuf estate has a well-deserved reputation for its long-lived wines. Belonging to the Brunier family, Vieux Télégraphe comes from a 65 hectare single plot lies on the plateau of La Crau, one of the highest points between the small towns of Châteauneuf du Pape, Bédarrides and Courthézon. The soil here is carpeted in the famous galets roulés, or pudding stones, which insulate the vines against both heat and cold, and aid drainage. The elevation means these vines are exposed to the extremes of the Mistral wind and the fierce sunshine. Not what you would call easy to farm; but the Brunier family have clung to this unruly terrain for over a century, and produce some of the appellation’s most traditional and classically styled Châteauneuf from vines with an average age over 60 years. With bottle age the wines develop leather, spice and dried fruit characters. Their estate in Gigondas, Les Pallières, produces excellent Grenache based blends from vines that are slightly younger than those at Vieux Télégraphe, but still average an impressive 40-50 years. The estate is half owned by legendary American wine merchant Kermit Lynch, a long-standing friend of the family and Southern Rhône enthusiast. The high altitude (250-400m) of this Gigondas parcel affords the wines noticeable freshness.
The emperor of southern Rhône appellations, Châteauneuf du Pape was the first A.O.C. in all of France, created in 1936. Their bottle is unique embossed with the papal coat of arms. Thirteen varieties (14 if Grenache Blanc is counted separately) can be incorporated in the blend. The reds include: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, Terret Noir, Picpoul, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Muscardin, while the whites are Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Clairette. Only a handful of producers use all 13, Grenache often being the highest percentage of the blend. This enables each producer to highlight the varieties that are the ripest and most interesting in any given year. Most Châteauneuf du Pâpes are master examples of wines that can be approachable within the first few years of release yet able to develop superb complexity during many years of cellaring.