Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, established in 1891, has been run by the Brunier family for five generations. The estate’s vineyards are situated on the famous “Plateau de la Crau” the stony terrace where there is nothing but “galets roulés”, or rounded stones, as far as the eye can see. This special terroir imparts a highly distinctive minerality to the wines.
The Brunier brothers have produced this special Châteauneuf du Pape from two distinct parcels since the 2011 vintage. It is a blend of 90% Grenache (70 year old vines) and 10% Mourvèdre (50 year old vines).
The Grenache is from the stony Piedlong plateau (full of galets roulés) in the heart of the Châteauneuf appellation, north of the village and the highest point in the production area (128m).
The Mourvèdre comes from the sandy Pignan lieu-dit, east of Piedlong. The wine is aged for 20 months in large French oak foudres and there is no filtration or fining. This is a classic Brunier wine with the mineral expression dominating the character although there is plenty of richness and depth too.
La Nerthe can trace its history back to 1561 making it one of the oldest estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The 90 hectares (225 acres) of Château La Nerthe are certified as “Organic growing” from 1998 by Ecocert – the French organisation of organic certification.
In recent times, the purchase of the estate by the Ricard family in 1985 has allowed the true potential of this fine property to be realised. Since 2008 wine maker Christian Voeux has been in charge of production with the emphasis on modern, approachable Châteauneuf.
The grape varieties used at La Nerthe are: Grenache 53 %, Syrah 27 %, Mourvèdre 15 % and Cinsault 5 %, from vines with an average age of 40 years.
Traditional fermentation in cement tanks is followed by 12 months ageing in a mixture of oak barriques and much larger foudre.
Garnet red in appearance, the nose is red and black fruits with spice and leather – a really “warm” nose.
The palate is all spicy dark fruits with pepper and fine tannins.
Michel Maret has now been joined by his two daughters, Véronique, helping with the wine making, and Caroline, running the office with Madame Maret.
Domaine de la Charbonnière has 12 hectares of prime vineyard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 4.5 in Vacqueyras – this is a serious, established, top quality Domaine.
The Cuvée Hautes Brusquières is made up of 40% Syrah and 60% Grenache, all from the Brusquière plateau, from vines aged between 30 – 50 years old.
The two varieties are vinified separately with the fermentation lasting up to 5 weeks in temperature controlled vats. The cap is punched down every other day and the wine is pumped over every day to maximise extraction and elegance in the finished wine.
Ageing is in large oak vats for up to 18 months.
The wine has a good deep red colour, with a nose full of ripe black and blue fruits and notes of spice, pepper and leather. The palate is full and powerful with gentle tannins, and ripe, zippy, pepper and fruit flavours.
This small property (3.8ha) produces textbook Pomerol.
100% Merlot from 40 year old vines planted in iron rich, sandy soils.
The grapes are picked by hand making several passes through the vineyards only picking the bunches at peak ripeness. A further sorting of the fruit takes place at the winery followed by fermentation in small, temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats. The wine is then transferred to oak barrels for the malo-lactic fermentation followed by 14 months ageing.
Deep purple/red in appearance, the nose is full and rich with red and black fruit aromas. The palate is lush and rounded with layered black fuit flavours, a full, textured mouthfeel and gentle supporting tannins.
The Sabon estate has 16 hectares of vineyards in some of the best sites of Châteauneuf – Les Cabrières, La Crau, Courthezon and Nalys, all with the “galets roulés” stones so typical of the area. The vines have a minimum age of 50 years, with 90-year-old vines being used for the Cuvée Prestige.
The wine making is today handled by Didier Negron, the son-in- law of the late Jean Jacques Sabon. The vineyards are managed by Jean Jacque’s brother Denis and his son Julien.
The fermentation takes place in small cement vats and small stainless steel cuves, with pumping over and a cuvaison which lasts for 20 days at a temperature of between 30° and 34°.
The wine is matured for between 16 and 18 months in foudres (4,000 litre) and used barriques, and receives neither fining nor filtration.
Grenache is the predominant grape blended with a range of other red grapes typical of the appelation – Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Terret, Counoise, Vaccarese and Muscardin.
Deep and brooding, this very complex wine has aromas and flavours of ripe red and black fruit, spices (cloves and pepper), mushrooms, and with age, truffles and old leather.
This fine property comprises a beautiful 19th century house, parkland and some 15 hectares of vineyard. Under British ownership from 2000 until recently, a huge amount of investment has gone into restoring not only the house but also the vineyards and cellars. The results of this are plain to see.
Produced from 20 year old vines, the grapes are hand picked and carefully sorted in the vineyard. Fermentation is in temperature-controlled cement vats for a period of 3-4 weeks followed by 12 months ageing in oak, 60% of which is new.
The 2009 is very dark in appearance with a nose full of ripe fruit and elegant cedar notes. The palate is dry and broad with restrained cassis flavours, a touch of liquorice and warm spicy notes. The tannins are soft but support the wine well into the long finish.
Jean-Marc is the fourth generation of this branch of the Pillot family to be in charge of this excellent, 10 hectare domaine. He took over the reins from his father Jean in 1991 and is assisted by his wife Nadine and sister Beatrice.
The white wines of the domaine mature quickly and are at their peak 3-4 years after the vintage.
Ripe fruit is set off by a wonderfully elegant mineral core. The use of wood is restrained.
Jean-Pierre Latour has 10 hectares under vine in Meursault. Wonderfully sited vineyards, low yields, brilliant winemaking and no fining or filtration, make this one of the most exciting domaines in the village at present.
The Meursault Cuvée Charles Maxime (a blend of Les Vireuils, Les Corbins and Les Pelles) is plump, rich and generous, fermented and matured in barrel (around 1/3 new) for 15-16 months.
Bernard Bouvier has 17 hectares under vine in and around Gevrey and Marsannay.
He has recently moved to new state of the art cellars just north of Gevrey and the quality of his wines has improved even further.
Yields are extremely low and never exceed 30 hl/ha and no chemical sprays are used in the vineyards and everything is hand picked. Fermentation of the reds involves a long, cold maceration and a gentle extraction – what Bernard calls an infusion. About one third new barrels are used. They are bottled without fining or filtration and are fine, pure, concentrated and subtle.
He is currently undergoing organic conversion.
The site of the vineyard “La Justice” is, in theory, on the wrong (east) side of the RN74. However, the soil of small stoney scree, gives a wine of pure, elegant, fine minerality from 45-50 year old vines.
Deep ruby red in appearance with hints of purple – clear, bright and strong. The elegant nose is of ripe black fruit with floral hints of violet, and a delicate touch of spice. The palate is ripe, supple and full with lively fruit and gentle tannins. The finish is long and persistent with excellent balancing acidity – very elegant.
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