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Châteauneuf-du-Pape Piedlong, Brunier 2013

Red Wine from France - Rhone
This is a new wine from the Vieux Télégraphe stable and comes from two plots of very old vines, one being Piedlong itself, the other on Pignan, near Rayas. Daniel Brunier explained just how wonderful these two plots are, both very stony and continuously swept by strong winds. Grenache is king here and accounts for 90% of the blend with the rest mourvèdre. Concentration and complexity.
is no longer available
Code: RH39531

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Full-bodied
  • Grenache/Garnacha
  • 14.5% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2032
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

In many ways Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhône just north of Avignon, is the birthplace of the appellation controlée system in France. The Baron Le Roy, owner of Château Fortia, with the co-operation of his peers drew up a set of rules in 1923. Initially the regulations drawn up by the good Baron specified 10 grape varieties which could be used to make the wines, and when official AOC status was conferred in 1936 this became 13, and when revised again in 2009 the number of varieties permitted rose to 18. To be fair, the 18 include variations on varieties rather than adding new ones but it is still a number that represents the pragmatism of the rule-makers in the face of the plethora of grapes used by various growers.

Indeed, although Châteauneuf is famous for its large, heat-radiating galet stones, the soils of the 3,200 hectares of vineyards in the AC are also diverse, ranging from the galets to pebbles, clay, sand, iron-rich limestone, marl, quartzite and sandstone with...
In many ways Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhône just north of Avignon, is the birthplace of the appellation controlée system in France. The Baron Le Roy, owner of Château Fortia, with the co-operation of his peers drew up a set of rules in 1923. Initially the regulations drawn up by the good Baron specified 10 grape varieties which could be used to make the wines, and when official AOC status was conferred in 1936 this became 13, and when revised again in 2009 the number of varieties permitted rose to 18. To be fair, the 18 include variations on varieties rather than adding new ones but it is still a number that represents the pragmatism of the rule-makers in the face of the plethora of grapes used by various growers.

Indeed, although Châteauneuf is famous for its large, heat-radiating galet stones, the soils of the 3,200 hectares of vineyards in the AC are also diverse, ranging from the galets to pebbles, clay, sand, iron-rich limestone, marl, quartzite and sandstone with combinations and variations thereof. Almost all are alluvial, deposited by the shifting course of the Rhône over millennia having been left behind by retreating glaciers, and most are what might be described as impoverished. Many growers own land in different parts of the AC and so possess an assortment of terroirs. The land is relatively flat with the highest altitudes being some 120m above sea-level. The most famous vineyard area is Le Crau, which is covered with galets and on which the renowned Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe is among the owners. Some wines are blends across terroirs, but there are an increasing number of single-vineyard or terroir bottlings.

The common factor to all areas is the heat of the growing season, made even more arid by the action of the mistral winds which carry away moisture. Temperatures during the growing season can reach 40oC, and ripeness in the grapes is rarely a problem, particularly in those terroirs where the galets act as storage heaters, soaking up the heat of the day and radiating it back at night. In fact, Châteauneuf-du-Pape has the highest minimum required alcohol level of any AC in France at 12.5%, though in reality most reds reach 14.5% quite easily. Some growers have planted vineyards with a northerly aspect to reduce the effects of the sun. Grenache, syrah and mourvédre are required under the AC laws to be pruned as gobelet or bush vines, without wires or trellises, in order that vine can shade the fruit to some extent and retain moisture within its shade.

90% of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s production is red, principally utilising grenache noir and often with the support of syrah and mourvédre. The remaining grapes, including white varieties that will make the 10% of production bottled as such or co-vinified with red varieties, are cinsault, counoise, vaccarese, terret noir, muscardin, picpoul noir and blanc, picpoul gris, grenache blanc, grenache gris, clairette blanche and rose, bourbulenc, roussanne and picardin. In theory a producer can use all these varieties in one blend. Château de Beaucastel is one domaine which has used all 13 of the originally specified varieties in their bottlings. Oak is used in reds or whites by many growers to mature their wine though not all do so, and the wood might be new, old, small barrels or huge vats. White wine is made using a variety of the grapes mentioned above. They are usually full-bodied and aromatic, and the best examples can age wonderfully.

With the natural sugars in the red wine grapes being high, it is important that the grapes are allowed to reach phenolic ripeness, in particular that the tannins are balanced. Generally, the vine stems are removed from bunches, and some winemakers use carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration to emphasise fruit flavours.
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Rhône Vintage 2013

The years go by and no two vintages are ever the same. In 2013, there was no spring. In its place, the cold, wet winter just seemed to go on forever. It wasn’t until July that temperatures began to rise, and suddenly summer arrived. Flowering was poor and the grenache grape suffered especially. The Indian summer, which was never too hot, came as blissful respite for growers who began to wonder whether they would ever be able to pick.

Northern Rhône
The first thing Thierry Allemand said was: ‘At last! A true Cornas vintage’. His wines have virility, lift and an abundance of fruit; there is a definition to the wines that mark them out. 2013 northern Rhône syrah is sleek, succulent and concentrated. The tannins are present but, by and large, they’re ripe. So much so that many growers have gone back to whole-bunch fermentation, stalks and all. Crozes-Hermitage, the portal to understanding Rhône syrah, was outstanding in 2013. Wines from Cornas, Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage will all require...
The years go by and no two vintages are ever the same. In 2013, there was no spring. In its place, the cold, wet winter just seemed to go on forever. It wasn’t until July that temperatures began to rise, and suddenly summer arrived. Flowering was poor and the grenache grape suffered especially. The Indian summer, which was never too hot, came as blissful respite for growers who began to wonder whether they would ever be able to pick.

Northern Rhône
The first thing Thierry Allemand said was: ‘At last! A true Cornas vintage’. His wines have virility, lift and an abundance of fruit; there is a definition to the wines that mark them out. 2013 northern Rhône syrah is sleek, succulent and concentrated. The tannins are present but, by and large, they’re ripe. So much so that many growers have gone back to whole-bunch fermentation, stalks and all. Crozes-Hermitage, the portal to understanding Rhône syrah, was outstanding in 2013. Wines from Cornas, Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage will all require patience, such is the weight of matter in these wines, but it will be rewarded.

Southern Rhône
The south was more challenging. Not only were the yields incredibly low but there was hardly any grenache. What to do? Growers had to adapt, make fewer cuvées and then bring to the world wines with more syrah or mourvedre. So some of these southern 2013s are atypical, with more colour, more grip and more fruit. In some cases, the wines are fractionally less alcoholic too. The results are surprising though uneven and so the line up from the south looks a little different to normal as we too have had to adapt. There is more from Gigondas as unquestioningly 2013 is a great Gigondas vintage. Success in Châteauneuf-du-Pape was also possible: Vincent Avril at Clos des Papes made a great Châteauneuf but did so by severe pruning. He yielded just 13.5hl/ha, a record low at this estate.

The whites - In a word: stunning. From Condrieu in the north all the way down to the Roussillon, 2013 is a stunning white vintage where fruit, grip and concentration combine perfectly.
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2013 vintage reviews

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