1978 & 1990 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape


I must confess a penchant for mature Châteauneuf-du-Pape, though sadly I do not have many opportunities to drink it. It’s almost more difficult to track down ancient bottles of Rhône than of Burgundy. A dinner in February 2019 reminded me of the joys of Châteauneuf-du-Pape when it is given a chance to age and when it comes from a great producer.

The 1978 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Château de Beaucastel came up first, poured completely blind. I believe this is the last vintage of Jacques Perrin. It shows moderate bricking commensurate with its age, and an endearing, mellow bouquet of Earl Grey, pressed flowers, mulberry and touches of clove. The medium-bodied palate is a little rustic compared to modern-day Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but beautifully balanced with supple tannins that once were tough, and fleshy, with an animally, leather and hung game finish that slaps a big fat smile on your face. This is a wonderful wine that, if kept in good conditions like this, could give at least another decade of drinking pleasure. 92/Drink 2019-2030. 

Hot on its heels came another vintage. The 1990 Châteauneuf-du-Pape has a compelling bouquet of plump red fruit, oxtail, leather and morels, all well defined and full of chutzpah. The palate is smooth in texture and, at 29 years old, has certainly mellowed. There is a core of sweet fruit here, but it has softened with age and delivers a smorgasbord of second flavors: meat juices, clove and touches of fennel. It does not possess the audacity of the Hommage à Jacques Perrin, yet it has retained effortless charm. 93/Drink 2019-2036.