Calgary Wine Life: Thomas Perrin Beaucastel Component Tasting

23 02 2016

FullSizeRender-242I’m having myself a bit of a tasting month here.  A week after sitting down to some incredible 50, 51 and 52 year old Taylor Fladgate Ports, I was treated to one of the most memorable experiences of my wine life:  a chance to taste through the individual varietal component wines of the unparalleled Chateau de Beaucastel with proprietor Thomas Perrin, the first time such a tasting had ever been held in Alberta.  Beaucastel is the legendary estate of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the top region in France’s Southern Rhone Valley and the first area declared to be an Appellation d’Origine Controllee (AOC – now Appellation d’Origine Protegee, or AOP) in 1936, known for producing rich, dense and complex reds and whites of remarkable quality and longevity.  The Perrin family has owned Beaucastel for over 100 years, having purchased it shortly after most of the vineyards were ravaged by the phylloxera louse and just before the scourge of World War I. Two wars, 100 hectares and five generations later, Thomas Perrin and his family members carry on the legacy of the Chateau and the Perrin name.

Beaucastel’s winemaking philosophy was created and entrenched largely by Thomas’ grandfather Jacques Perrin, whose name graces the estate’s top wine, Hommage a Jacques Perrin, released only in top years.  The elder Perrin converted the entire estate to organic viticulture back in 1962, when almost nobody would even have known what that meant and the prevailing wisdom pushed hard the opposite way, toward the increased use of vineyard chemicals and pesticides.  Chateauneuf-du-Pape permits the use of an astounding 13 different grape varietals, 14 if you count the white version of Grenache (reds – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Vaccarese; whites – Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Picardin), which is way more than your standard high-end rigid French appellation; Beaucastel makes a special point of using them all, white and red, in every vintage of its CNDP release.  They plant, harvest, vinify and mature each varietal separately, as each has a different growth curve and ripeness window, but in all cases they aim to tell the harmonious story of grape, soil, climate and region, of terroir, in their wines.

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The Great Coravin Test, Part 5: Six Months Later

26 01 2016

To catch you up on the epic journey that is concluding with this post:

  • I got to borrow a Coravin back in July (Part 1)
  • I accessed three awesome bottles with it and wrote tasting notes (Part 2)
  • I checked back on them two weeks later to see how they were doing (Part 3)
  • I dove into some cellar treasures and gave some final Coravin thoughts (Part 4)
  • I promised to come back to my three test bottles one last time…in half a year.

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Take 5. One last time.

How time flies.  Suddenly it’s six months from the week of my original Coravin tasting write-up and I owe this story an epilogue.  After seeing this trio of my bottles front and centre in my cellar on a daily basis and accessing them multiple times through the Coravin needle, I actually felt sort of bad cutting off the foils and pulling the corks out of them like they were any old weeknight wines.  But science does not wilt for sentiment, and I had a job to do.

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The Great Coravin Test, Part 2: Initial Tasting Report

23 07 2015

The journey continues.

The journey continues.

If you missed Part 1 of this soon-to-be-epic tale, wherein I got a Coravin to borrow and figured out how to use it, you can click here to get caught up.  This post will set the control for my test of the Coravin’s wine-preserving prowess, documenting my initial tasting impressions of three different bottles that I was provided along with the device so that I could give it a spin:  one white, one lighter red and one fuller red.  I actually tasted these last Friday, July 17th, so that’s the point from which the preservation clock starts ticking.  I will taste them all again in a couple of weeks and report back, and then again in a few months to see just how far the magic of the Coravin can stretch.  Word of warning if you ever try this yourself:  when you have a tool that lets you taste as many wines and access as many bottles as you want in a night without pulling a cork, you end up drinking a LOT of wine.  Duly noted.  On to the wines — be sure to check back in two weeks to see how they’re doing!

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Calgary Wine Life: Bin 905 Chateau de Beaucastel Tasting @ Divino, Part II

7 05 2012

[Cross-posted at www.calgaryisawesome.com]

In full swing — there were probably 150 glasses on the table.

For Part I of this mammoth tasting write-up, click here.

After the first half-dozen wines of Bin 905’s Chateau de Beaucastel vertical tasting, spanning six vastly different bottles from 1989 to 1999, we took a 15 minute break to chew on some cheese and cleanse our palates.  After the first 1700 words of my tasting review covering those six bottles, I took a 7 day break to get mentally prepared to delve into another topsy-turvy whirlwind of a decade of Beaucastels.  The second half of the tasting covered six wines from the 2000s and included one of my least favourite wines of the tasting…but also my wine of the night.  First up, tasked with trying to make me forget about the likely-corked 1999, was the Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-de-Pape from 2000. Read the rest of this entry »





Calgary Wine Life: Bin 905 Chateau de Beaucastel Tasting @ Divino, Part I

30 04 2012

[Cross-posted at www.calgaryisawesome.com]

Divino's Stone Cellar, a.k.a. Tasting Central.

I had fully intended that this monthly post would showcase a different player in the Calgary wine scene every month, highlighting the incredible depth of industry talent we have at our disposal locally.  And yet here I am, in CIA post #4, writing about another tasting put on by Bin 905, hosts of the Jim Barry Armagh tasting I covered back in February.  I know we have a remarkable array of wine stores out there, and I know many of them are doing great things with their event schedules, but I can’t say that I feel bad about the Bin 905 duplication because the tasting I went to on Saturday was just that cool.  Held at Divino restaurant’s Stone Cellar, it was a 12-bottle vertical tasting of one of the best and most historic producers of the famed Chateauneuf-de-Pape region in France’s Southern Rhone Valley, Chateau de Beaucastel.  A vertical tasting provides a unique opportunity to track the progress of a wine as it ages and lets you see the impact that a given year has on the style and flavour of a bottle, since you taste the same producer’s wine over a number of vintages; in this case, we tried Beaucastels from the mid-90s through the late-oos (whatever you call that decade), as well as one particularly special bottle from the tremendous vintage of 1989.  The initial tasting program featured far fewer bottles, but Bin 905 had the ingenious idea of offering people a free seat at the tasting if they brought a bottle of Beaucastel from a year that wasn’t yet in the lineup.  Thanks to a number of philanthropic volunteers, we all got treated to the most complete vertical tasting I’ve ever been a part of…which isn’t saying much, since I’ve only been a part of two, but it was still impressive.

Chateau de Beaucastel is a legendary producer in Chateauneuf-de-Pape:  along with a handful of others, it represents the creme de la creme of the region’s growers and winemakers.  CNDP stands out as a wine region because it permits 13 different grape varieties (combined red and white) to be included in its wines, a number that is dramatically higher than most other European wine-growing areas.  Beaucastel in turn stands out as a producer because, in almost all of its bottlings of red CNDP, it incorporates all 13 varietals into the mix, even the whites.  Like most other wineries from Chateauneuf-de-Pape, Beaucastel’s blends rely mostly on the big three red Southern Rhone grapes — Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre — but Beaucastel again takes a particularly individual approach to its winemaking by incorporating much more Mourvedre (usually around 30%) and much less Syrah (usually around 10%) in its blends as compared to most of its brethren.  The result is a deeper, thicker, more complex wine that ages very well and that spawns a host of secondary flavours after a few years in the bottle.  I had only ever had Chateau de Beaucastel from a recently-released vintage, and it was so knotted and closed upon opening that I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about until about 2 hours later, when I came back to the wine to find an absolute labyrinth of tastes and smells just starting to stretch their legs.  At the time I thought:  how great would it be to try one of these after it has had a proper chance to age?  It turns out I went one better, sitting down to this amazing event that brought a dozen bottles of Beaucastel from 5 to 23 years old into my grasp. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2007 Chateau de la Gardine Chateauneuf-de-Pape

9 02 2012

Try to fit THAT in your wine rack -- I dare you.

Tonight’s review was supposed to be posted last night, but some insomniac infant adventures from the night before made me more or less comatose by dinnertime, so I had to take a PnP rain check.  However, all is quiet in the house now, so fresh off a better night’s rest and a ton of caffeine, it’s go time…although I’m still tired, so I’d better write quick.  This blatantly asymmetrical bottle of Chateauneuf-de-Pape was a generous Christmas gift from a good friend of mine (thanks Josh!) and a wine that I couldn’t bring myself to wait to open.  Considering the last time I opened a weirdly-shaped bottle of CNDP, it was a wholly depressing experience, I was fervently hoping for better luck this time…I’d hate to be permanently pulled out of the sway of a good marketing gimmick.  Fingers crossed!

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Wine Review: 2006 Domaine Les Pallieres Gigondas

10 04 2011

All the CNDP quality, half the price.

There hasn’t been a lot of French wine so far on PnP, not because I’m not a fan, but because I haven’t had a lot of it lately.  But tonight that all changes with authority, as this Gigondas put on quite a show at Sunday night dinner.  Gigondas is a wine region that’s a good bet for killer value wines:  it’s located in the Southern Rhone in the southeast corner of France, very near the much more famous Chateauneuf-de-Pape, and it makes wines that closely resemble those of its more exclusive neighbour.  It has a very similar climate (warm and Mediterranean) as CNDP and uses very similar grapes in its wines (in its reds, predominantly Grenache  with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault the main others in the blend) as CNDP, but since it’s not called “Chateauneuf-de-Pape”, its wines (many of which rival CNDP in quality) are much, much cheaper.  Once you stop paying for the region name on the label, more of your buying dollar goes to pay for the quality of the wine itself.  Case in point:  this Gigondas was only slightly more expensive than this horrible train wreck of a CDNP, but was about a zillion times better made. Read the rest of this entry »








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