Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016
65% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah
This gradually opens up on the nose and the palate is svelte but serious. Wonderful brightness and clarity. Harmonious, self-assured and complex without ever being heavy or cumbersome. The palate offers bright sweet, small sweet berry flavours flecked with minerals, gentler and easier than usual but with a certain gravitas nonetheless and a nice, moreish touch of austerity.
A blend of 65% Grenache 15% Syrah 15% Mourvedre and a small proportion of white varieties and Cinsault. 30% whole bunches from the old vines Grenache were included in the 2013 blend. All from the fine La Crau vineyard in the Bedarrides commune from vines averaging 60 years old. The grapes are part de-stemmed and after fermentation the wine is aged for ten months in concrete vats followed by ten months in wooden foudres.
One cannot think of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the most celebrated cru of the southern Rhone, without thinking of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe. The Brunier family is legendary in its own right, having been rooted to the enigmatic plateau known as La Crau for over one hundred years. The wines of Vieux Telegraphe evoke the concept of terroir in its purest form: they reflect their dramatic climate, the rough terrain that defines the soil, their full sun exposure at a higher altitude, the typicity of the varietals with an emphasis on Grenache, and of course, the influence of their caretakers, the Brunier family. For many, La Crau is Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s grandest cru.
After years of closer study, La Crau proved to be a privileged vineyard site. At the extreme southeast of the appellation, a large three-meter trench in the vineyard reveals its stratifications, millions of years in the making. The layers show early alluvial deposits, limestone, silica, and a robust red clay (known as molasse) that has come to characterize this terrain. Sitting on the surface of the soil, the galets hold important functions: they insulate the vines from both the cold and the heat, and they provide ideal drainage for the roots. Henri retired in 1988 and left the Domaine in the hands of his two sons, Daniel and Frederic.
The Brunier brothers have significantly expanded the family’s holdings on La Crau to seventy hectares, and have boldly expanded their winemaking ventures into new territory. They created the second label for Vieux Telegraphe known as “Telegramme,” purchased Domaine La Roquete in Chateauneuf, and Domaine Les Pallieres in Gigondas. The wines of V.T. are classic, displaying strength, rusticity, earthiness, and tremendous longevity. The final assemblage consists solely of old-vine fruit from La Crau, imparting incredible depth, concentration, and a filtered-through-stones minerality that provides excellent freshness. The greatness of the domaine is just as much a tribute to the Bruniers as it is to La Crau—they have the ability to make great wine even in difficult vintages. Their goal is to find a harmony between aromatic complexity, tannic structure, and richness, which they achieve year after year.
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