2011 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Expert Rating
RP 94 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Old Vines at Chateau de Beaucastel Robert Parker's 94-Point Château de Beaucastel

The Perrin family's Château de Beaucastel is the southern Rhône estate by which all others are defined. The old vines of Beaucastel push out singular blends in every vintage, reflecting not only the place in which they're grown but also the drama of each growing season. In 2009, Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape was dark and powerful. Alcohol flirted with 16% after that torrid summer. Acids were weaker than normal, though buttressed by the family's low-pH, old-vine Mourvèdre.
2010 offered a more classical perspective on the appellation, that long growing season shining a spotlight on deeply concentrated, old-vine Grenache. Somewhat closed on release, even very slightly reduced, this is a vintage that will most reward the patient. We aren't touching another bottle before 2020.

The 2011 campaign made for one of the Perrins' most charming, Burgundian renderings of the last two decades. As always one of The Wine Advocate's most highly rated Châteauneuf-du-Papes of the year, Parker's publication called the 2011 Château de Beaucastel "gorgeously textured … (with) terrific purity of fruit and ripe tannin." But perhaps more interesting — and in sharp contrast to 2009 and 2010 — was the last sentence of that 94-point review, where the Advocate suggested that even if this mesmerizing 2011 is "enjoyable even now, it should nevertheless evolve gracefully for 15-20 years." Here's why.

The dramatic 2011 growing season in the southern Rhône began with a dry fall and early winter. A fortuitous storm at the end of March replenished underground water reserves. April and May were filled with blue skies, making for a large set. Some growers, anxious to plump up balance sheets after the small yields of 2010, stood pat. Not Beaucastel, where teams took to the vines with a vengeance, dropping fruit aggressively. Flowering came two weeks ahead of schedule before Nature threw growers the first knuckle-curve in June.

That June heat wave wreaked havoc with the family's vacation plans. The old-vine Grenache was already weeks ahead of schedule. If the heat wave continued into July, the Perrins would be picking when they should have been taking their pre-harvest vacation in the Alps. But just as those plans were put on hold, July turned cold and rainy, slowing down the maturation cycle.

August and September were hot and dry. The October Indian summer was magnificent. Those who hadn't treated their vines to a June haircut brought in one of their largest crops of the new millennium, making for pretty wines that lacked the depth of the preceding vintages.

But as always when the set is so large, Beaucastel's green harvest had been among the most severe of the appellation. When the small-berry clusters weighed in, the Perrins were down nearly 50 percent from 2010 (already a small harvest), making for one of the most sublime, Vosne-like Châteauneuf-du-Papes we've tasted from this world-class estate.

The 2011 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape is absolutely stunning. Ruby-red to the rim, infused with luscious aromas of raspberry, black cherry, sweet spice, and white truffle. Gorgeous and beautifully polished on the attack, silken in texture, the core is rich and marvelously concentrated, packed with red-fruit preserves and wild cherry, finishing bright, vibrant, and penetrating. Drink now if you enjoy robbing babies from cradles, or do as we're doing and lay the Perrins' startling 2011 down for a decade or two.



Tasting Notes

2011 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape
"Reminiscent of a lighter weight 2009, the 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape offers up a sweet bouquet of spiced black cherries, plum, truffle, saddle leather and underbrush. Coming from tiny yields (which were down 50% from 2010), this medium to full-bodied 2011 is gorgeously textured and has solid mid-palate depth, terrific purity of fruit and ripe tannin. Relatively approachable and enjoyable even now, it should nevertheless evolve gracefully for 15-20 years. Drink 2015-2031."
94 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

 

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