Decanter’s tasting director, Christelle Guibert, gives her ratings and tasting notes for nine Château de Beaucastel wines, including five vintages of the rare Hommage à Jacques Perrin at Decanter’s Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter.

I last saw François Perrin four years ago in southern Rhône, when, along with his brother Jean-Pierre, they were jointed awarded Decanter Man of the Year for their outstanding contributions to the wine world.

That was until we met again at the Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter for a masterclass showcasing several vintages of Château de Beaucastel and the very rare Hommage à Jacques Perrin.

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Château de Beaucastel wines tasted and rated

Stockists for US and UK provided where available. Stockist search aided by Wine-Searcher. This list also includes Château de Beaucastel 2015 tasted by John Livingstone-Learmonth in autumn 2016.

The blends

  • Château de Beaucastel blend is mainly Grenache and Mourvèdre – 30% each – with 10% Syrah, 5% Cinsault and small amounts of several others. 
  • Hommage is majority Mourvèdre, 60%, plus Grenache, Syrah and Cournoise. Only 5,000 bottles are made annually.

 


Beaucastel history

Château de Beaucastel traces its existence back to 1549, when Pierre de Beaucastel bought a barn with a plot of land.

When phylloxera struck at the end of the nineteenth century, decimating the planted vines, the owner decided not to replant the vineyards, instead selling the propriety to Pierre Traminer in 1909.

He replanted the vines and passed them on to his son-in-law, Pierre Perrin, and in-turn to Pierre’s son, Jacques Perrin.

The fourth generation of Perrins, François and Jean-Pierre, have been at the helm since 1978 and the fifth generation of Marc, Pierre, Thomas, Cécile, Charles, Mathieu and Thomas, are also involved.

The vineyards and the blend

Château de Beaucastel covers 130 hectares, of which 100 hectares are planted with vines, including 70% within the Châteauneuf-du-Pape boundary and the remainder classified as Côtes-du-Rhône.

The land has been cultivated organically since 1950 and biodynamically since 1974.

All 13 grape varieties allowed in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation are planted, with Grenache and Mourvedre making up the majority.

‘Châteauneuf-du-Pape gets its complexity from blending the different grape varieties,’ said François Perrin. ‘We could do single varietal [wines] but we will not achieve the same level.’

He believes that each grape brings something particular to the wine.

  • Grenache accounts for around 30% of the blend and gives the richness, the ripe fruit and the alcohol.
  • Mourvèdre, also usually 30% of the final wine, provides the tannic backbone.
  • Syrah represents 10% of the blend and adds colour and violet characters
  • Cinsault, at 5%, brings freshness and elegance.

The others, Cournoise, Vaccarese, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardin, Bourboulenc and Roussanne, contribute to the complexity and spiciness of the final blend, he said.

Each grape variety is picked and vinified separately, starting with Syrah and finishing with Mourvèdre.

They are blended after malolactic fermentation and aged in large oak barrels for 12 months. For François, ‘oak is like make-up, you just need a little’.

Hommage à Jacques Perrin: About the wine

As the name suggests, Hommage à Jacques Perrin is named in honour of the brothers’ father, who passed away in 2009.

‘My father had great vision and, while everybody else was focusing on Grenache, he decided to plant Mourvedre,’ François recalled poignantly.

Subsequently Hommage has a minimum 60% of Mourvèdre in the blend, alongside Grenache, Syrah and 10% of Cournoise, another late ripening grape.

It was my first experience at tasting ‘Hommage à Jacques Perrin’, and this is truly an exceptional vin de garde.

‘This is a wine to be kept for your retirement,’ François noted, wryly surveying the fresh faced audience at this masterclass.

‘When you own a vineyard, you don’t do things for yourself but for the next generation. To achieve great things, you need to push yourself,’ he said.

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