Parker's 95pt Paradox
By the time the dust settled and Nature had delivered its last turquoise sky days before the sensational harvest of 2010, the French media was already calling the vintage the 'greatest ever' in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Importers worldwide were sent scrambling.
But when Robert Parker's exhaustive vintage report hit the web on December 12, 2012, in which the world's most powerful critical voice compared 2010 favorably to every vintage since 1978, all bets were off. As prices spiked in a blitzkrieg sell-off, barely a drop was unspoken for at the ViniSud fair in Avignon.
We begin today with an apology. For the most part, we struck out in reeling in what we too believe to be the greatest Chateauneuf vintage of our careers. With yields down 30-40%, winegrowing families were left with the unpleasant task of slashing allocations to longtime customers.
WineAccess, being a relative newcomer, was largely left holding the bag -- with one very prominent exception.
Ever since Robert Parker first began reporting on the wines of the southern Rhone in the late 1970s, one family has ruled the roost in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, garnering five perfect 100pt scores. But in what many have called the "miracle of 2010," the Perrins pulled out all the stops at Chateau de Beaucastel, earning some of the highest scores Parker and Stephen Tanzer have ever dropped on the appellation's greatest estate.
The 2010 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the most massively concentrated, wildly aromatic, age-worthy release in fifty years. Saturated purple to the edge, with explosive aromas of crushed black fruits and cherry liqueur, the attack is rich and mouth warming, a full throttle mix of red and black fruit preserves, smokey and dense. Terrifically vibrant, with riveting low pH backbone, Parker suggests the Perrin's 2010 will hit full stride sometime in 2038. Nothing in our long history with Beaucastel suggests otherwise.
Weather conditions were ideal in 2010, highlighted by chilly nights and marvelously warm days. Absent any of the torrid heat spikes that made 2009 so challenging, the growing season was dry and windy, cleansed by warm Mistral breezes. The only downside to the harvest, the Perrins said, was the impact of shot berries (or what the French call millerandage) on yields. At harvest, the gnarly 80+ year-old head-trained Grenache vines would barely push out 2 tons per acre of miraculously concentrated clusters -- nearly 40% less than the highs of 2007!
Parker may have said it best when he wrote, "The hallmarks of the vintage are very dense purple, sometimes even blue/black colors as well as higher acid levels that have not been seen since 2004 and 2001. In fact, 2010's paradox is that I can't remember a vintage so concentrated, powerful and rich that also has such zesty acidity." As both Parker (95pts) and Tanzer (94pts) noted, nowhere did Parker's paradox play out more powerfully than at Beaucastel.