Beaucastel, an estate that traces its family history in the Rhone back to 1549, is an absolute classic and they did a terrific job in a very difficult vintage. This is a delicious wine that was a thrill to drink!
As some may remember, 2003 was one of the hottest vintages in the last generation in much of Europe and in warm areas like Chateauneuf-du-Pape, vintners struggled with keeping their wines from getting overripe and flabby.
It’s not as simple a matter as just picking a bit earlier in hot years because the grapes need to gain phenolic ripeness and maturity in addition to sugary ripeness. It would be like considering a teenager as fully mature simply because he’s 6′ tall and can grow a beard. It’s only with time that teenagers and grapes reach maturity.
Beaucastel is known for its use of all 13 grapes of CdP, believing that each grape adds something important to the wine. I can’t express it better than Beaucastel: “In order to reveal their character, aromas and originality, the 13 grape varieties of Château de Beaucastel vineyards are vinified separately: – Grenache and Cinsault provide warmth, colour and roundness, – Mourvedre, Syrah, Muscardin and Vaccarese provide structure, aging abilities, colour and a very straight taste, – Counoise and Picpoul provide body, freshness and very particular aromas.” After blending, the wine spends 1 year in oak and another year in bottle before release.
The wine is beginning to lose some color, turning a bit ruby and just slightly brown at the rim. The nose is deep, rich and slightly herby with notes of forest floor, stewed fruits and meats and herbs.
The palate reveals similar notes of stewed fruit and herbs with terrific mouthfeel and a Pinot Noir-like elegance. This wine’s in a really pretty place now but still shows it richness and complexity.
At this point, I would pair this as I would a nice Burgundy. I’m thinking duck, game birds, and more delicate meat dishes. It’s a pretty wine and I wouldn’t want big food flavors to overpower its complexity!