A prestigious ambassador to the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation, Chateau de Beaucastel is truly a story of family heritage. The estate’s signature blend is determined, vintage after vintage, by an annual assemblage of the Perrin family. The estate’s Hommage a Jacques Perrin is one of those very rare and ultra-premium cuvees considered one of the best in the world, regularly awarded the highest honours by some of the most famous critics in the world of wine. The 2015 vintage comes from a selection of the best and oldest vineyards of Chateau de Beaucastel, a true embodiment of Jacques Perrin, his innovative spirit and eternal dedication.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape: Of Popes and Wines
Tucked between the towns of Orange and Avignon in the southern half of the Rhone Valley, the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape has enjoyed a rich history. Its name, which translates literally to “the new castle of the Pope,” refers to its former role as the new home of the Papal court back in the 14th century. Building on a winemaking history that dates back to the Roman Empire, the region was officially declared an appellation in June of 1929. To this day it remains the oldest and most revered appellations in France. Chateauneuf-du-Pape extends over 3,200 hectares of vines planted in sandy and pebbly (rounded galets roulés) soils. While Grenache reigns supreme, Syrah, Mourvedre and Counoise also contribute significantly to the classic flavour profile of the region. The vineyards enjoy a very dry Mediterranean climate, with very little rainfall and irrigation strictly forbidden during the growing season. A combination of varietal and terroir gives rise to the concentrated, jammy red fruit flavours, high potential alcohol and good cellaring potential for which Chateauneuf-du-Pape is known and loved. The appellation also produces a range of tangy and aromatic white wines from Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc. Altogether, 13 varieties are allowed in this appellation.
Chateau de Beaucastel: 5 Generations of Family History
Chateau de Beaucastel boasts a long and rich history that dates back to the mid-16th century. The first vine plots were purchased by the Noble Pierre de Beaucastel near the town of Courthezon at Coudoulet. The original manor house still bears the coat of arms of Beaucastel sculpted into the stone wall of its drawing room. When the estate’s owner converted to Catholicism, he was named by Louis XIV “Capitaine de la ville de Courthezon,” the town’s captain. In 1909 Pierre Tramier left the estate to his son-in-law, Pierre Perrin. The chateau has been owned and expertly managed by the Perrin family ever since. Three quarters of the estate’s 100 hectares of vines are located in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation, and all 13+ grape varietals permitted by the appellation are grown and vinified separately. Over a century of winemaking know-how, paired with a deep respect for terroir, has led to a sought-after range of blends, which allow the expression of each varietal and each plot, rather than just the power of Grenache. Mourvedre, in fact, is the signature varietal at Beaucastel, playing a more dominant role than in the usual Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend. Each year the Perrin family gathers – fathers, uncles, sons and cousins – to taste each varietal from each separate plot and agree on an assemblage to represent the vintage, and to keep representing that vintage after decades of ageing.
Jacques Perrin: A Pioneer in Organic Winemaking
Jacques Perrin took the reins of Chateau de Beaucastel from his father, and was instrumental in the development of the family’s unique approach to viticulture and viniculture. A true pioneer, he was one of the first, in the 1950’s, to adopt organic practices in the vineyards and to eventually graduate to biodynamic methods in 1974. The Perrin family believes that the vine must be considered as an actor in a natural universe, and that each element of its environment – the land, its flora and fauna, the microorganisms dwelling in the soil – must be protected to produce true expression of terroir. Weeding is done by hand, chemical pesticides and herbicides are rejected, and native yeasts are chosen over foreign ones as often as possible. The management of the vines follows a biodynamic calendar, based on the lunar and solar cycles. Jacques Perrin was also responsible for breaking the Grenache trend popular at the time and focusing on ancient and rare grape varieties of the region, including Mourvedre and Counoise.
Hommage a Jacques Perrin: One Man’s Legacy
Since 1989, Chateau de Beaucastel’s “Hommage a Jacques Perrin” cuvee has paid tribute to Jacques Perrin, immortalising the spirit of the estate’s former owner and innovator. Produced in very limited quantities, and only in the best years, this ultra-premium red wine has received 100 points from Robert Parker for four different vintages. The blend is dominated by Mourvedre, grown on the estate’s oldest vines, which yield tiny amounts the highest quality fruit. “Hommage a Jacques Perrin” was also the first Rhone Valley wine, not from Bordeaux, to be distributed by Bordeaux wine merchants. Only five of the 300 wine merchants making up the Place de Bordeaux, have the right to distribute this exclusive cuvee. One of those five is Millesima.
In memory of a man who looked past Grenache to realise the full potential of the Mourvedre grape, the 2015 vintage of this very special cuvee is made of 60% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah and 20% Grenache. The 2015 Hommage a Jacques Perrin from Chateau de Beaucastel was produced under almost perfect climatic conditions. A warm and very wet winter was followed by an idyllic spring, sunny and dry with instances of rain. This climate provided a great environment for flowering, which occurred evenly on very healthy vines. Next came a hot and dry summer (the hottest July in 50 years, in fact) with significant thermal amplitude observed in August. Harvest occurred on beautiful sunny days, with a strong Mistral wind protecting the health of the fruit, which had achieved optimal maturity before picking. The 2015 vintage of Hommage a Jacques Perrin was always expected to be a fantastic one due to the near perfect nature of the growing season. In the glass, the wine proves those expectations true. This wine is truly complex and pure, with rich aromas of blueberries and blackberries, and a remarkable potential for ageing.