I was delighted to be invited to the pre-release tasting of the wines of Perrin et FIls and Château de Beaucastel 2009. It took place last week in the rather grand setting of the Grocer’s Hall in central London.
On show were a wide range of wines from Perrin along with the new vintages of the Beaucastel wines, both red and white and a few older vintages for comparison. So, temping stuff then…
Firstly a little bit about Perrin wines. Beaucastel is obviously the flagship of the portfolio, but there’s quality across the range. A perennial favourite of mine is the Coudoulet de Beaucastel, their somewhat far from humble Côtes du Rhône from vineyards just over the A7 autoroute from Beaucastel itself. Along with the Beaucastel wines, Perrin also makes some negociant wines ranging from a wide range of Southern Rhône appellations including Rasteau, Gigondas , Vinsobres and Cairnane, etc.
The 2009 Vintage
2009 was a fantastic vintage across France and the Rhône was no exception.
After a cold winter, 2009 experienced a hot (with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees) and dry summer with very few days where the Mistral presented itself. The high temperatures in August accelerated the ripening of the grapes, but the Perrins decided to wait for phenolic ripeness and delayed the harvest. Most importantly however, the nights were cool enabling the acidity to be maintained in the fruit.
Harvesting of the whites started on 24th August and the reds on 31st August and the conditions during the harvest were almost perfect with little rain. The harvest finished on 24th September with the gathering in of the Mourvedre. Yields were average at about 25hl/ ha.
Generally the grapes were very healthy with great fruit and good extraction. The acidity was maintained, even in the hot vintage due to a wide diurnal temperature variation.
Generally this vintage can be compared to 2005 and 2007 in terms of quality, which is praise indeed.
The good news is that the Southern Rhône offers some of the best value in France rather than Bordeaux which certainly in 2009 doesn’t; well not at this level anyway. However, I may have spoken too soon, as the prices have not been released yet…
So, without further ado, on to the wines themselves…
Perrin et Fils Negociant Wines
This is such a great value wine, especially in2009! Youthful purple with fresh red fruits on the nose. The palate is light, refreshing and well balanced with soft, fresh tannins. Good
Youthful deep purple with a fresh blackberry and bramble nose, with a slight rich musky perfume. The palate exudes black fruits, chocolate and a long and savoury finish. Unusually for my notes I’ve said “I like this!”. Very Good
A rich and enticing nose of bramble, blackberry and clove with a lifted violet perfume making a very attractive whole. The palate is rich with deep blackberry and spice flavours and considerable length. Very Good to Excellent.
Youthful purple with a light and refreshing raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant nose. There’s good acidity on the palate with fine structure and a pronounced but well balanced acidity and some soft a tannins. Overall attractive but not a masterpiece. Good
We’re getting a lot more serious here, with a deep ruby coloured wine with a deep an complex nose of blueberries, chocolate and summer fruits and a great deal of complexity. The palate follows through and is complemented by some very fine and dusty tannins, well balanced acidity and incredible length. Very Good.
Château de Beaucastel Wines
Pale straw coloured. A surprisingly complex nose of honey, peach, apricot and musk. The palate continues this with rich and ripe stone fruit character and back notes of honey and hazelnuts . Long and refreshing. Very Good to Excellent
In comparison to the Coudoulet, the CB wine itself has a slightly closed nose but the palate opens up very quickly in the mouth with rich deep floral honey flavours, yellow nectarine and ripe apricot, hazelnut and almond. Very long and complex. Very good to Excellent
More open than the CB itself, which is a little surprising. Lovely lifted nose on this, screaming stone fruit, honey apricot and white peaches, while still maintaining that almond blossom and hazelnut character. Very, very, very long, with a lovely refreshing acidity , which is no mean feat with Rousanne in a hot vintage. This is very, very, very good – or very excellent if I can have that!
Still looking very youthful the red Coudoulet maintains its reputation as one of the finest Côte du Rhône wines available. Deep but refreshing strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and bramble on the palate are lifted with a rich and really attractive perfume and well balanced and complex tannins. The alcohol is a little prominent on this wine and the moment, but I think that’ll blend in with a little time in the bottle. Excellent
The wine tasted was not the final blend – Marc Perrin told me that it was about 70% complete, but they’d not put the best wines in yet(!), but he felt it was very indicative of his expectation of the final product.
The first thing that stuck me about this wine was that the nose was very bright and lifted, with a lovely violet, honeysuckle and musk perfume. Almost a Provençal garden in the summer! The palate displayed rich and deep red fruit very well balanced with the acidity and the fruit was chewy almost with some chocolate, coffee and interesting that parma violet character from the nose. The dusty tannins are quite prominent at this stage but this wine has a long and promising future ahead of it. This is one seriously complex wine and I can only see it developing into something quite spectacular over the next 10 to 20 years. This is one of the finest young Beaucastel wines I’ve tasted. Excellent
I also had the opportunity to taste five varietal wines from the blend which was fascinating and it was certainly possible to see what each contributed to the blend. I tasted the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Counoise, all of which were outstanding wines in their own right. I’m not going to reproduce the tasting notes for the varietals here, but that parma violet perfume is coming from the Cinsault and Counoise if you’re interested.
And now the fun part… Some older vintages of Beaucastel for comparison:
Still very youthful and the nose displays vigorous summer fruits on both the nose and the palate. There’s a little development beginning to show but the tannins are still quite prominent and slightly more structured and robust than the 2009. This is a very well balanced wine, and needs leaving for a few years yet but will develop well and into something spectacular I suspect.
This wine has a deep garnet colour with a brambly berry and redcurrant nose. There’s thankfully no jamminess that can blight Châteauneuf all too easily. There’s a freshness about this wine that lifts the fruit and the palate and brings the attractive summer fruits, spice and the developing meatiness to life. This wine is developing really well.
Hommage is Beaucastel’s prestige cuvee and is made only in exceptional years (Perrin was keeping his cards close to his chest on 2009…). And it was a privilege to taste it
Deep tawny in colour with a deeply developed and savoury nose, the wine exuded rich complex red fruit, leather, smoke and Christmas spice. The brambly fruit on the palate was offset with soft and well balanced tannins, leather, redcurrant and cinnamon. Very, very long.
If you can find it and afford it, buy some – in fact buy lots!
My overall impressions of 2009 are of an exceptional vintage that has produced wines of incredible poise, balance and elegance. And it’s not often you can say that about southern Rhône wines. And I think that’s the whole point, the lovely acidity and freshness of these wines really underlines the quality of 2009 – exactly as in Bordeaux. Across the board, from Ferme Julien to Beaucastel itself, there’s real quality about these wines.
This is an exceptional set of wines that are not priced out of the reach of most wine consumers, which is in stark contrast to what happened in Bordeaux in 2009.
Most of the wines described here can be bought En-Primeur at the West Mount Wine Château de Beaucastel 2009 En-Primeur Offer pages.