Wines from Châteauneuf du Pape usually leave a general impression of being thick, rustic, powerful and richly colored. This may be the case for many wines that try to please the customers looking for the stereotypical Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
However, just like the case in Burgundy and Piedmont, there are genius winemakers who dedicate their lives to defend the tradition and make wines that truly reflect the underlying terrior potential.
One of our feature wines this week, Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape Boisrenard 1995, is highly regarding of its “wonderful elegance”. Robert Parker called this wine “the Musigny of Chateauneuf du Pape”. He thought this well-defined Chateauneuf-du-Pape “could easily be mistaken for a grand cru red Burgundy”.
What does it take to make a “Musigny” from Rhone?
The Coulon family, owner of Domaine de Beaurenard, has been working on this estate for 7 generations since the 1600s. They are a firm believer of traditional approach, with minimal intervention to the terrior. They have adopted organic and biodynamic farming for years. Most importantly, bulk of the work is still done manually:
- Pruning is done solely by the estate staff: each person tends to the same plot over the long term, crafting their vines like sculptures;
- Debudding of all the vines: this prevents leaf build-up around the bunches, ensure small yields, and ventilates the vine-trunks by letting natural light through;
- Soil-working and controlled grass cover are supplemented by a team of seasonal workers who, during long weeks, hoe between the vines – a very strenuous, painstaking job in our stony soils;
- Harvesting with all grapes hand-picked and sorted.
The gifted terrior and old vines (usually 45 years and above) give that extra depth and substance to the wine. Vinification is relatively “easy” as the most crucial bit of the work (i.e. growing the vines) is already well taken off. However, they insist on adopting the traditional lengthy fermentations (15-35 days) with natural yeasts.
Of course, just like any great wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, winemaker has their own secret blend formula of using up to seventeen grape varietals. The Coulon brothers use 13 varieties, with Grenache being the dominant type. They call this the “Symphonie des 13 cepages”.
Try this wine yourself and be your own judge on whether it is indeed the Musigny (or maybe Bonnes-Mares) of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.