This red wine is produced by Famille Perrin who are owners of the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate Château de Beaucastel.
The terroir at Beaucastel is described by Famille Perrin as ‘marked by the Rhone violence.’ This means that there is a layer of what they call marine molasses, otherwise known as sandstone from the Miocene period, and this is then covered by alpine alluvium. There are lots of rounded stones surrounding the vines which are known as galets. These show evidence of a time in history when the Rhone, a powerful force at this time, would have torn fragments from the Alps and deposited them as it raged on its course.
Miocene period: 23.03 to 5.3 million years ago, a time of warmer global climates which consisted of two main ecosystems; kelp forests and grasslands.
Alluvial soils vary according to the age of the alluvial deposit (in this case alpine) and activity of soil forming process. This usually results in the soil texture varying dramatically throughout its density, the textual range can be diverse and the variable drainage may be free or very poor.
Galets (pebbles): Rounded stones left behind from dramatic flooding and erosion. They play an important part in producing great wines because of the warmth they retain from the sun. They keep the vines cosy at night radiating this heat back out into the air.
Another interested bit of terminology, The Mistral Wind. This is a cold dry north or northwest wind which blows down through the Rhône valley towards the Mediterranean. Apparently this helps the older vines, to stay clean and dry as they are planted in a more traditional style called gobelet.
Gobelet: This translates to ‘goblet’ and is an ancient method whereby vines are planted to support their own growth, no wires, no structural support, therefore resulting in a goblet shaped growth. The trunk of the vine is kept short, and the branches at the top of the trunk are spur pruned to keep them short and produce a gnarled lump of old wood at the top of the vine for support. It results in essentially a bush of a vine, where the foliage can dangle down naturally.
Beaucastel covers 130 hectares but only 100 hectares are planted with the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The rest is farmed with rotated crops to prepare new vineyard plantings every year. There are thirteen other grape varieties of Châteauneuf-du-Pape appelation which are; Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardan, Bourboulenc and Roussanne.
Isn’t learning fun? Please do get in touch if there’s more for me to find out on this particular subject or anything else for that matter.
This particular wine is based on Grenache, with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault in support. I chose to have it with some Stilton cheese, a favourite treat of mine.
What can I say? It’s as classy as classy comes, a really tasty quality red. It’s a very fine wine for only £11.45 you should order some in time for Christmas. You can taste the warmth of the galets, the refreshing breeze of the Mistral Wind and all of this is topped off with thirst quenching blackcurrant fruits with a hint of pepper perhaps.