Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes Roussanne 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In 1549, "Noble Pierre de Beaucastel" bought "a barn with its land holdings, containing 25 saumées at Coudoulet". More than four centuries later, this remarkable domaine, known today as Chateau de Beaucastel, is producing what most people acknowledge to be the finest wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
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 Chateauneuf-du-Pape: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardin, Bourboulenc, Roussanne.
Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics reminiscent of black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhône River Valley. Large pebbles resembling river rocks, called "galets" in French, dominate most of the terrain. The stones hold heat and reflect it back up to the low-lying gobelet-trained vines. Though the galets are typical, they are not prominent in every vineyard. Chateau Rayas is the most obvious deviation with very sandy soil.
According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.
Only about 6-7% of wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape is white. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance.
The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. The lore says that after moving in 1309, Pope Clément V (after whom Chateau Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan is named) ordered that vines were planted. But it was actually his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as "the pope's new castle," didn’t really stick until the 19th century.
Full and silky in body but also charmingly crisp, Roussanne makes a stellar blending grape. Thought to be native to the Rhône Valley of France, and still predominantly grown there, it is responsible for some of the finest Northern Rhône white wines. Roussanne adds richness and acidity to Marsanne’s soft, fruitiness, making the age worthy and highly respected whites from the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and St.-Joseph. It has also earned approval as one of the white varieties for Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
In the Glass
Persistent aromas of exotic herbal tea, a full body nearly as complex as a red wine, and distinct apricot and honey flavors make Roussanne unique. With age, these wines gain a more oily or glycerin texture.
Richer fish dishes such as salmon, lobster, crab or grilled shrimp work well with Roussanne and its blends. A meal of roast chicken with herbs and winter vegetables is also delicious. Stuffed butternut squash, vegetarian curry and baked brie with apricots are other ideas to pair with Roussanne based wines.
Roussanne takes its name from the French word “roux,” meaning rouge or red because of the grapes’ pink glow. In California, virtually all of the 339 acres of Roussanne come from true clones brought over by Tablas Creek and John Alban.