Friday Feature – September 18, 2009

Hello and happy Friday,

I’m back from vacation, and judging from the fact that I spent some time in Russian River Valley, you would think that my first newsletter would focus on those wines?

You will see some fun selections from that region on upcoming newsletters, but while I was gone, two very exciting offers from France came knocking.  Before they sell out, I had to get you the information a.s.a.p.!

If you are a Rhône fan like myself, then names like Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Southern Rhône Valley and Côte-Rôtie, from the Northern Rhône Valley should get you excited.

Today, two limited offers, just bottle quantities unfortunately of wines you won’t want to miss!



If you love Châteauneuf-du-Pape then it is kind of difficult to not like this red example from Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. While many producers in the region make several cuvée’s, the Brunier family keeps things simple on this estate by making only two reds and two white wines.

“La Crau,” the name prominently posted on the label of Vieux Télégraphe refers to their vineyard on a plateau, which sits higher than any others in the region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  The vineyards famous galets, or large stones along with the vineyards excellent exposition on the plateau, result in a rich style red.

With this richness, it’s important to note that the main red of this historic winery really doesn’t show as impressively as some other wines of the region when it’s young!  The magic of Vieux Télégraphe  comes when it gets to around ten years after vintage date.  Then all that classic hickory smoke starts to come out on the nose, and it becomes a seductive, earth driven red perfect with grilled meats like lamb.

The 2007 vintage has given us an epic wine that simply needs to be laid quietly in someone’s cellar.  I hesitated putting this on the newsletter as I only have 24 bottles to sell, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to get some of this impressive juice!

For those into second and third opinions from the critics, below is a review from the International Wine Cellar. Also, a little birdie told me that this was going to get a big, fat score in an upcoming Parker issue. But really you should be buying this because you know you love great Châteauneuf-du-Pape, especially from Vieux Télégraphe! This has always remained one of the most fairly priced Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s around.

“Saturated ruby. Youthfully brooding nose displays dark berries, tobacco and licorice, plus an undercurrent of smoky minerals. More powerful than what I expect from this estate, boasting deep, chewy cassis and bitter cherry flavors and a late note of bitter chocolate. Impressive for its richness and size, but will it gain the finesse that I associate with this domain? 90-93 points, Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar.”


Do you like elegant wines?  If so, you are looking at a bottle from the apogee of elegance in the Syrah world.  Bridget Roch and Gilbert Clusel, are some of the most consciencious winemakers in all of France, and year in and year out their wines are flat out beautiful.

The appellation of Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhône Valley is well known for its Syrah, and sometimes combination with the white grape varietal Viognier.  For years this appellation has been in the shadow of other regions like Hermitage.  For the wine lover who looks for elegance, in today’s wine world, the most exciting wines in the Northern Rhône are being made in Côte-Rôtie.

Which brings me to Clusel-Roch.

Why haven’t you heard of them?  They make very little wine! Vieux Télégraphe, the producer above owns just under 200 acres of land.  Clusel-Roch has just over 10 acres.

Over the past twenty years Clusel and Roch have worked very hard to ensure the right type of rootstock is in their vineyards.  They believe strongly that the Sérine clone, which historically is the old rootstock of Côte-Rôtie, is right for their vineyards. It naturally reduces yields in the vineyard, and the pair went as far to prove the complexity of Sérine by making two different wines from the same vineyard with the aforementioned Sérine and a clone.  They had to cut back the crop with the clone, to get to 40 hl/ha, where Sérine matched the low yield naturally.  In tasting the two wines, the Sérine was far more complex and provided for better structure.

Aside from the work in the vineyard, the production emphasizes the fruit rather than oak.  A mix of concrete and steel vats are used in fermentation.  This wine is aged in oak, with only old barrels used. Around 4% of this wine is composed of Viognier, which lightens the color of the wine but adds to the aromatic complexity.  Around 12,000 bottles of this wine was produced, sadly not enough for every Syrah fanatic to try!  One of the best reasons to buy this is that it is imminently drinkable for those that don’t cellar wines, but if you choose to age it, you can do so through 2016.  This is a great value for top notch Côte-Rôtie.

“Medium red. Pure red fruit nose shows a strong, complex floral accent. Fresh raspberry and strawberry favors are complemented by lavender and violet notes and framed by suave, silky tannins. Clean, brisk and linear, with no rough edges or excess weight. The bright finish features an intense redcurrant quality. 91 points. Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar.”

Craig Perman
Perman Wine Selections
802 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone 312-666-4417
Fax 312-666-4487

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