Chateauneuf-du-Pape is at the southern point of Rhone Valley.
It is unmistakably Mediterranean. Very hot summers and an atmosphere infused with thyme and pine trees. It is one of the oldest Appellations in France, having spent considerable effort protecting their name. But the two most decisive factors for the style and character of the wine are: 1. The characteristic gallets (big round stones) that absorb the sun during the day and transmit it during the night 2. There are 13 allowed grapes, which means it is one of the places in the world where blending is an art.
Chateau de Beaucastel is on the northern side of the Appellation. Written records date back to 1549 when Pierre de Beaucastel bought the land.
Wine production continued uninterrupted for centuries and the modern era of Beaucastel began in 1909 when Pierre Tramier bought it from Elie Dussaud. A couple of years later he passed the estate to his son-in-law, Pierre Perrin.
Today, the fifth Perrin generation is managing the estate. Based on this long tradition of 500 years of wine production, the art of blending has been truly mastered with all 13 allowed grape varieties playing their part in the final blend. Each of the 13 grape varieties contribute something different to the wine and to the complexity of aromas and flavours. Large oak foudres (large Slovenian oak barrels) are traditionally used, but they also use of smaller oak vessels.
The Perrin family continues the great blending art of their ancestors and they have a profound respect for the earth and terroir. They believe that carrying on the tradition is both a duty and a joy.
When Jacques Perrin chose to risk using a higher proportion of the Mourvedre grape in the blend, very few people thought that he was doing the right thing.
The Grenache grape was – and is – the king here, and this was a pioneering and risky move.
But the innovation of the fleshy, tannic and rustic Mourvedre paid off.
With always enquiring minds, the Perrins began to experiment with organic agriculture in the 1950s and the use of biodynamic practices from 1974. They were way ahead of their time and produced wines that were authentic, complex and pure. And yes, this bio-purity is that extra, plus-1 reason to drink and enjoy these wines.
While everybody else was looking for increased production to capitalise on the fame of Chateauneuf du Pape, Beaucastel focused on the quality that comes from smaller yields.
They also use an innovative heating method for the skins of the grapes at the beginning of the wine-making process which extracts more tannins, anthocyanins and phenols and removes undesirable enzymes, allowing a longer fermentation.
In the last couple of years there has also been an emphasis on meticulous vinification – cleaning everything intensely from top to bottom – to eliminate any possibility of brett infection that would blight the flavour of the wine.
The passion of a winery should be reflected in its wines and this is exactly the case with Chateau de Beaucastel where the focus is on quality in everything they do rather than quantity.
Chateau de Beaucastel has expanded its operation in other parts of France and abroad, especially in the United States, focusing on quality and the purest expression of the local terroir and grape varieties. They can properly claim that the character of the grapes shine through all their products in all the regions where they have expanded.
Marc Perrin and all the family, are also enthusiastic about pairing their wines with food. Their wines are fine-tuned to haut cuisine.
Marc Perrin, one of the Perrin brothers running the operations nowadays, is a born gentleman. He is as humble as he is knowledgeable, and it will take him only seconds to find out how much you know about wine.
With Chateau de Beaucastel, despite all the awards and celebrated wines, they never stop exploring and innovating.
The depth of their knowledge and expertise in France and abroad has been proven time and time again.
Their unique skill in the art of blending guarantees that they can consistently produce great wines whatever the challenges of a particular vintage.
Photos by Chateau de Beaucastel