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Chateau de Beaucastel Coudoulet Rouge 2016
Beautiful dark red. The nose is powerful with intense notes of juniper, black olives and pepper. On the palate, it is an explosion of red fruit, with floral and spicy notes, but with a very nice balance combining great freshness, a beautiful complexity, a soft texture and a nice acidity. A wine that has a lot of character.
Blend: 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
This has a very plush, luscious and generously fleshy feel. Cherry compote, raspberries, blackberries and plums. Tarry elements, too. Smooth, velvety, pure and even. Succulence, elegance and clarity. Such value here.
The 2016 Cotes du Rhone Coudoulet de Beaucastel was bottled just two weeks before my visit, hence the plus sign attached to its rating. Planted just outside the boundaries of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, the vines here average 80 years old. Mouthwatering aromas of red fruit and spice lead the way, backed by a full-bodied wine that's creamy and lush but also silky and vibrant. As always, it's one of the best Côtes du Rhône wines from a given vintage.
Bottled three weeks ago, the 2016 Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet de Beaucastel sports a deep ruby/purple color as well as terrific freshness in its blueberry, violets, raspberry, and spring flower aromas and flavors. Showing the vintages purity and elegance, it still packs ample oomph and richness. Drink it over the coming decade.
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 Château de Beaucastel, is producing what most people acknowledge to be the finest wines of Châteauneuf-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 Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardin, Bourboulenc, Roussanne.
Typically thought of as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the term Côtes du Rhone actually doesn’t merely apply to the flatter outskirts of the major southern Rhône appellations, it also includes the fringes of well-respected northern Rhône appellations. White can be produced under the appellation name, but very little is actually made.
The region offers some of the best values in France and even some first-rate and age-worthy reds. Red varieties include most of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape varieties like Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Counoise, as well as Carignan. White grapes grown include Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, among others.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.