Skip to main content

When Chateauneuf gets tired

Clos des Brusquieres' owner Claude Courthil sold everything off to negociants until the 1996 vintage, the first to be estate bottled. We began buying the wines with the 1998 vintage, followed by the 2001.

Claude is something of a loner, spending most of his time quietly in the fields or at the winery, gradually improving the quality of his small production. Most of his eight and a half hectares is to the north of the village on stony soil. An indication of Claude's reserve, we learnt after we had already purchased a parcel of his 1998 wines that Claude's uncle - and mentor - is the legendary Henri Bonneau, one of the most revered winemakers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Whilst Claude would not suggest that his wines are in the same league as those of Oncle Henri, they are good examples of the traditional style of wines from the region which is fast becoming history in the pursuit of Parker points and other trophies.

One problem - for me - with this style of wine is that bottling is very late. Some estates (Clos du Mont Olivet is a good example that springs to mind) traditionally bottled as and when orders came in so some wines could remain in the big old foudres for years. I once visited Les Reflets, the bottling and distribution plant for the Sabons, to be given the opportunity of tasting some wines which were between 15 and 20 years old. Normally that would be a wonderful experience; it was not. The wines had grown tired in the barrel rather in the way that a Tawny Port ages (but in that case the nuances it develops are welcome).

The very last bottle of Clos des Brusquieres 2001 in my cellar was uncorked last night and, sadly, was a perfect example of a wine that had remained in barrel for too long for my taste. When first bottled it was fine but after only three or four years, the extended barrel aging showed through with very muted secondary fruit character. There was still some fruit but the wine was just unexciting and uninteresting to me. Oh well, lesson learnt I hope.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Decanter’s top Rhône wines under £20

The moratorium is over. Decanter’s December issue has been published and I can announce our successes in the recent tasting undertaken by their Rhône expert, Matt Walls who has recently returned from a year and a half in the region. If you look on Decanter.com today (November 2020), you will see a link to ‘Top Côtes du Rhône wines under £20’. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the brief of its writer was to taste and rate wines from across the valley in that price range and that the top scoring white wine was actually a Ventoux. No prizes for guessing that it was  Château Juvenal’s 2019 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Blanc , awarded 91 points, which, at £12.60 is also the best value of any of the white wines on the list: 'From 30- to 40-year-old vines grown on granite south-facing slopes; half of the wine is matured for six months in demi-muid leaving no overt oakiness to the aromatics. Full-bodied, rich and opulent style, very ripe and fulsome. Some mango and pineapple juice. Unmist

Postcard from Provence

With lockdown more or less over, we made a dash to the other side of the Channel and are currently languishing in the Vaucluse  d épartement , home to the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape  et al . Mont Ventoux, known to cyclists the world over, is staring at me as I write, only providing a shield from the sun in the early hours of the morning before the heat hits. Exercise here, recently so highly prized (the French were allowed no further than 1 km from home to exercise during their lockdown), is necessarily limited to a gentle morning stroll around the village to collect bread from the  boulang ère.  In time it may be possible to acclimatise but, looking at the locals, I wouldn’t bet on it. France went into lockdown before us, of course, and came out earlier as well so, if we in the UK are fortunate, what I am seeing is a glimpse into the future. We are welcome here – I know plenty of people with concerns about this but it is the Parisians they fear most here it seems. The UK, until

Watching and drinking Perseides concurrently.

Being British, I am obliged to comment on the Provencal weather this summer. Mostly hot with the occasional Mistral wind and, a few weeks ago, a threatened storm which yielded some highly unusual clouds, identified by a friend’s meteorologically talented daughter (moments before o ne of my own clever clogs) as being of the mammatus variety, these being, in effect, upside down clouds which, said expert explained occur when   the cold, moist poc kets of air sink rather than rise. Pic included of clouds over neighbouring property (would you believe me if I said it was sunny over us? No?).   What I ca n ’t give you a picture of bec ause (a) it hasn’t properly occurred this year yet (a brief flirtatio n last night but that’s all so far) and (b) my technological wizardry has yet to master how to tak e a still image of a (literally) flying circus, is tonight’s extravaganza of shooting stars, known as   Per séide s . (Some of you will, by now, have figured where this is going.) The useful peop