A blend of sweet and savoury, this 2006 offers plush notes of dark bramble fruit backed by meaty, marmitelike undertones. Like most Beaucastel Châteauneufs, it is broad and fleshy rather than restrained and poised yet its acidity adds freshness and lift particularly on the finish.
As I stated last year, there is no Hommage a Jacques Perrin in 2006, but Beaucastel's 2006Chateauneuf du Pape is performing even better from bottle than it did last year. Its dense plum/ruby/purple color is followed by a big, sweet perfume of black truffles, camphor, earth, incense, new saddle leather, and loads of peppery, blackberry, and herb-infused, meaty, black cherry fruit. Deep, full-bodied, and dense, with sweet tannin, this explosively rich Chateauneuf is a stronger effort than the 2005, 2004, or 2003.
As for the 2006 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape, it is a top-notch success and one of the vintage'stop wines. A big, sweet, beefy nose intermixed with truffles, tree bark, fresh mushrooms, blackberry and black currants as well as some road tar jumps from the glass of this dense ruby/purple-colored wine. The wine has terrific fruit on the attack, medium to full body, very concentrated flavors, and moderate tannin in the finish. This is a strong Mourvedre-based cuvee that needs 4-6 years of bottle age and should last 25-30 years.
Château de Beaucastel, the flagship estate of the Perrin family and masters on the Southern Rhône, makes benchmark Châteauneuf. The best vintages here can age into legendary wines, and an increasing tendency to elegance in the winemaking style of recent years has not gone unnoticed. The Beaucastel vines are all in one large 110 hectare block at the northern end of the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation. The plot contains all the archetypal soil types of the region: sand, clay and limestone, with pudding stone pebbles on the surface. Their Coudoulet vines lie just beyond the northern boundary and convey much of the typicity of a Châteauneuf in a more accessible format. The estate famously grows all thirteen varieties permitted within the Châteauneuf appellation. Beyond the Beaucastel estate, the Perrin family have built up a comprehensive portfolio of wines across the Southern Rhône appellations including Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Vinsobres.
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.