If you've been into Murphy's Wine Shop recently, or joined us for one of our Tuesday Night Tastings in the past month or so, then you already know that I, Emily Barkelew, am about to leave and embark on a grand adventure in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the Southern Rhône with the great Brunier Family, who own Vieux Télégraphe, among others. It's a huge honor to be able to go and work with this family, and I'm so thrilled to be flying out in one week to go work with and learn from them. But before I go, I want to share their wines with you, my Tuesday Night family, to give you a better idea of the wine I'm going to help to make this Fall.
But first, a little background on this legendary family:
Their story begins in 1898 with Hippolyte Brunier, who started with less than a hectare of vines (2 ½ acres). This little piece of property was situated on one of the highest points in the area known as the Bédarrides, a stony plateau known as La Crau, whose elevation prompted the construction of a communication tower in the late 18th century to transmit telegraph messages between Marseilles and Paris (hence the name, Vieux Télégraphe).
Originally, La Crau was thought of only as a barren landscape, exposed to all the elements, especially the cruel winds of the region known as les Mistrals. But Hippolyte persevered, seeing how people enjoyed his wines, so he began to bottle them more and more.
Eventually, Hippolyte's grandson, Henri, joined the family business, and brought with him a new vision of what the future could hold. He replanted the vineyards, constructed a new winery, and brought temperature control into the winery to protect the wines during fermentation. But most importantly, Henri was responsible for launching the Domaine’s first bottlings under the Vieux Télégraphe label.
Henri retired in 1988 and left the Domaine in the hands of his two sons, Daniel and Frédéric. The Brunier brothers have significantly expanded the family’s holdings on La Crau to seventy hectares, and have boldly expanded their winemaking ventures into new territory.
I'm very excited to say that we're going to be tasting through the gamet of their portfolio this Tuesday, and I invite you all to join me, and allow me to share my passion for these wines with you!
2016 Brunier Henri Le Pigeoulet Rouge - $22.99
A blend of 80% Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault, The name "Le Pigeoulet" is derived from the foothills of the noble La Crau plateau. A quintessential Provençal quaffer from the Brunier brothers, from their plots of vines in both the Côtes du Ventoux and Côtes du Rhône. Plums, cherries, and herbs interplay with intense notes on the nose. The same dark fruits dominate the mouth. Fresh, soft and ripe, with good density and soft tannins, all leading up to a nice, long finish.
2016 Brunier Henri Ventoux Mégaphone Rouge - $27.99
A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, this wine has a serious and profound bouquet with a hint of licorice. The palate reveals the spices of this new terroir, interwoven with herby garrigue flavors. Attractive structure, taut, elegant, compelling – you sense the freshness of the place. A true character.
2015 Télégramme Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge - $49.99
Heavy rains late in the 2002 growing season, rare for the normally dry and hot southern Rhône, left many growers fearing their crop would be diluted by the water. Assessing the quality of the fruit throughout harvest and vinification made it clear to brothers Daniel and Frédéric Brunier of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe that the vintage would give a much lighter wine, lacking the color, power, and concentration that had come to typify their Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They decided to create a second label, and so the Télégramme was born. The wine was an instant success: consumers relished the wine’s soft tannins and utter drinkability. It became a staple of the Brunier portfolio, as they continued to produce it from the younger vines, about 80% Grenache, on the stony plateau of La Crau. While the sunny 2015 vintage bears little resemblance to 2002, this wine has all the perfume, plush fruit, and ethereal structure to please right away.
2014 Les Pallières Gigondas Terrasse du Diable Rouge - $54.99
Not far from the ancient Roman center of Gigondas lies Domaine Les Pallières, a treasure of the southern Rhône whose striking terroir has long been known to produce some of the most elegant wines of the appellation. The mistral-swept landscape is defined by the spectacular Dentelles de Montmirail, the vertical limestone outcrops deeply embedded in Provençal lore. Nestled against the Dentelles’ northern slopes, Pallières is blessed with a unique microclimate. This cuvée mainly consists of Grenache from terraced vineyards up to 400 meters in altitude—a topography that distinguishes Gigondas from other crus of the Rhône and also ranks high within the appellation, so to speak. It ferments spontaneously before being racked by gravity to old foudres for a long élevage, then is bottled unfiltered. The result is a deep, velvety red that exudes the essence of Provence, recalling black cherry and réglisse with a stony tension that will hold it together for many years.
2014 Télégraphe Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge - $84.99
The flagship wine for Domaine de Vieux Télégraphe, this classic Châteauneuf du Pape is a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Mouvèdre, 15% Syrah, and the rest a mix of Cinsault, Clairette, and other indigenous varietals to the region. A lighter vintage, the 2014 is medium-bodied, silky, and elegant, with pretty notes of raspberries, crushed rocks, ground herbs, and flowers.
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous - 94 Points
Vivid ruby. Intense red and dark berry aromas are complemented by peppery spice, garrigue and floral pastille notes. Sappy and precise on the palate, offering concentrated, vivacious black raspberry, cherry cola and spicecake flavors. Supple, harmonious tannins build steadily on the very long, seamless finish, which leaves behind lavender and juicy dark berry notes.
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