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Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011
The Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape opens up to near black in color in the glass. On the nose, the wine is very delicate and powerful at the same time, red fruit, black currants, blackberries, spices, thyme and lavender. The bouquet is very elegant, rich and round. Figs, cherries, black currants and stewed fruit, all with a great acidity. The tannins are present but very delicate.
Chateau de Beaucastel has long been considered as one of the greatest wines in France. It is famously known for its elegance, balance and ageing potential. Beaucastel has an exceptional terroir at the northern limit of the appellation of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, exposed to the mistral wind. All thirteen varieties of the appellation have been grown organically since the sixties.
Reminiscent of a lighter weight 2009, the 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape offers up a sweet bouquet of spiced black cherries, plum, truffle, saddle leather and underbrush. Coming from tiny yields (which were down 50% from 2010), this medium to full-bodied 2011 is gorgeously textured and has solid mid-palate depth, terrific purity of fruit and ripe tannin. Relatively approachable and enjoyable even now, it should nevertheless evolve gracefully for 15-20 years.
Very sleek and refined despite the obvious heft, featuring steeped red and black currant fruit studded with bergamot, blood orange, sweet tobacco and alder notes. The long, racy finish has a lovely echo of singed mesquite.
An impressive wine by any measure, this shows ample complexity in its mix of black cherry, dark earth and briery notes. The tannins frame the wine’s opulent fruit, while remaining wonderfully unobtrusive. This should drink well for at least 15 years from the vintage.
Inky ruby. Powerful, expressive aromas of red- and blackcurrant, cherry and licorice, with suave anise and floral overtones. Juicy and precise, with tangy red and dark berry flavors, supple texture and a strong mineral note on the back. Spicy on the finish, which shows very good focus and length. This is impressively elegant and should be drinkable on the young side.
Range: 91-93 Points
Range: 91-93 Points
Although the hot spring and cool, wet July of 2011 made for some challenges (yields were down 50 percent from 2010), this is a lush and inviting vintage of Beaucastel. It stands out not only for the exuberance of its cassis flavor but its purity; if that flavor were a color, it’d be cadmium red. While it should hold well in the cellar for a few years, it is so appealing now it’s hard to think of a reason to wait.
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 vineyards are planted in all the traditional grapes of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardin, Bourboulenc, Roussanne.
A prestigious and distinctive region for red wines in northwestern Italy...
A prestigious and distinctive region for red wines in northwestern Italy, Piedmont is responsible for some of the country’s longest-lived, most sought-after wines. Set in the foothills of the Alps, the terrain consists of visually stunning rolling hills. The most prized vines are planted at higher altitudes on the warmer, south-facing slopes where sunlight exposure is maximized. The climate is continental, with cold winters and hot, muggy summers. Despite the rain shadow effect of the Alps, precipitation takes place year-round, and a cooling fog provides moisture that aids in the ripening of grapes.
Easy-going Barbera is the most planted grape in Piedmont, beloved for its trademark high acidity, low tannin, and juicy red fruit. However, the most prized variety is Nebbiolo, named for the region’s omnipresent fog (“nebbia” in Italian). This grape is responsible for the exalted wines of Barbaresco and Barolo, known for their ageability, firm tannins, and hallmark aromas of tar and roses. Nebbiolo wines, despite their pale hue, pack a pleasing punch of flavor and structure, and the best examples, when made in a traditional style, require about a decade’s wait before they become approachable. Barbaresco tends to be more elegant in style while Barolo is more powerful. More affordable and imminently drinkable Nebbiolo can be found in the larger Langhe area as well as Gattinara, Ghemme, and other less-prominent appellations. Dolcetto is Piedmont’s other important red grape, ready to drink as quickly as Barbera but with lower acidity and higher tannin. White wines are less important here but can be high in quality, and include Arneis, Gavi, and sweet, fizzy wines made from Muscat.
Singularly aromatic, often sweet, and always enjoyable...
Singularly aromatic, often sweet, and always enjoyable, Muscat never takes itself too seriously. Muscat is actually an umbrella name for a diverse set of grapes, some of which are genetically related while others are not. The two most important versions are Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and Muscat of Alexandria, the former being of considerably higher quality. Both are grown throughout the world and can be made in a wide range of styles, from dry and aromatic wines to sweet and richly perfumed dessert wines. It is well known in Italy's Piedmont region for Moscato d’Asti, a slightly sparkling semi-sweet wine that is refreshing and low in alcohol.
In the Glass
Muscat wines possess intense aromatics of peaches, rose petals, geranium, orange blossom, and lychee, often with a hint of sweet spice, and always with a uniquely grapey character that is uncommon in other wines.
Thanks to its naturally low alcohol levels, Muscat is a perfect match for spicy Asian cuisine, especially when the wine has a little bit of residual sugar. Off-dry Muscat can work well with lighter desserts like key lime pie and lemon meringue, while fully sweet Muscat-based dessert wines are enjoyable after dinner with an assortment of cheeses.
Muscat is one of the oldest known grape varieties, dating as far back as the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pliny the Elder wrote in the 13th century of a sweet, perfumed grape variety so attractive to bees that he referred to it as uva apiana, or “grape of the bees.” Most likely, he was describing one of the Muscat varieties.