As soon as the 2016 vintage was produced, the comparisons in Rhone began both with the 2015 vintage but also with the greatest in history. We discussed the dual vintages with some of the leading producers and after listening to their comments it was clear that the 2015 vintage is of the highest calibre in the Northern Rhone, while 2016 is the star in the Southern Rhone. Yet, talk early on was that 2016 for the Southern Rhone was not just excellent, but great. As such, the 2016 is set to surpass the 2012 vintage, equal or surpass the 2010 and Michael Chapoutier believes it could be better than 1990. There were warm conditions throughout the year, getting off to an early and excellent start with no excessive humidity. The summer arrived early and in turn flowering progressed under perfect conditions. The second half of the year passed with warm and dry weather. Immediately after harvest winemakers were declaring the conditions as the best since 1998. These sublime climatic conditions have resulted in wines with great colour, fruit concentration, rich tannin and intense flavor. The quality is high throughout, yet the best producers have made some of the potentially greatest Rhones ever. The good news also is that even among the finest, prices remain excellent and we posit Southern Rhone in 2016 will offer some of the best quality you can get anywhere. We advise collectors to fill their boots.
That said, this afternoon we are excited to start our Southern Rhone coverage with one of the leading producers, Beaucastel. Beaucastel 2016 is yet to be reviewed by any major critic. It is very instructive to consider that Jeb Dunnuck has now left the Wine Advocate and he will be replaced by Joe Czerwinski, who is the Managing Editor of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Czerwinski, therefore, begins his Rhone coverage with a truly exceptional vintage and the market expects fireworks when he releases his report and scores at the end of the October. We expect the score to equal or surpass the 2010 and 2012, which were awarded 95 and 96 points accordingly. The table below includes any vintage with a score of 95 points or above. With an expected stellar score, the 2016 will become hugely collectable, however with only 8,000 cases made, will be very hard to source by the end of the month. Today’s price reflects a slight rise caused by the change in FX, but otherwise is very generous, the Estate are keeping the same price as last year, despite it being oversubscribed. Beaucastel displays vintage premium, but this is a wine to buy, cellar and savour, it will repay you enormously.
The Estate was transformed in 1903 by a young chemical engineer named Pierre Perrin, who with his father-in-law returned it to past glories after the region was atrophied by phylloxera. Jacques Perrin drove it forward in the 1950s by introducing new technologies and innovations. Today the vineyard continues to be treated with wonderful care: minimal sulphur is permitted and no chemical fertilizers or weed killers are used. They vinify in large old barrels (foudres) and only the Syrah is exposed to new oak. The Estate has a bright future as Jacques’ sons Jean-Pierre Perrin and François Perrin continue to balance tradition with innovation.
The blend is a heady mix of the famous CDNP grapes, 30% Mouvedre, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise and 5% Cinsault, balanced with other varietals. Their Mouvedre is grown on almost one third of their land and is arguably the best example of this grape anywhere in the world. The vineyard is situated at the North-Eastern end of the appellation, a short walk from the famous town of Orange. The Estate has remarkable terroir, abounded by rolling pebbles on the surface, the subsoil contains an abundance of clay, which perfectly retains the vines’ water supply during the long hot summer days.
In addition to Beaucastel, we are pleased to be able to offer the second wine Coudoulet de Beaucastel. This is a well-kept secret in the wine business, due to its exceptional price tag, which is more akin to its Cotes du Rhone appellation. However, it is vastly superior to this, a virtuoso second wine which derives from high quality fruit, that is taken from low yielding vines, nearby to the great property itself. It spends six-month ageing in foudre and finds its way into those in the know. We have a limited parcel of both the Beaucastel and the Coudoulet de Beaucastel.
Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2016, 6×75 – £240 IB
Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2016, 12×75 – £160 IB
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