[...] Does fine red Châteauneuf need age ? Can it improve with age ?
In search of answers, I decided to taste the 'tradition' cuvée of four leading Châteauneuf estates in three outstanding vintages, each a decade apart (2010, 2000 and 1990). [...] Beaucastel, La Nerthe, Pégau and Vieux Télégraphe. [...]
Vieux Télégraphe 2010 - 96 : The lightest in colour of the 2010 quartet, and a wine of outstanding aromatic complexity (bramble, strawberry, thyme, orange blossom, lavender and honey emerge with time in the glass). On the palate, it is the stoniest wine of the fou, with the finest quality tannins : gathered, shapely, savoury, textured and long. A Châteauneuf which succeeds in being both commanding and refined, and a great Vieux Télégraphe.
Vieux Télégraphe 2000 - 95 : Slightly deeper in hue than La Nerthe, but the same depth of colour as Pégau. This wine has, remarkably enough, retained wild flower and lavender notes with a falling honeyed sweetness too. On the palate,, it has better volume and force than La Nerthe, with lower acidity and richer tannins. This is a very complete wine at present, with notes of thyme and meaty umamy framing the refined, stony fruits.
Vieux Télégraphe 1990 - 96 : A deep, clear brick-garnet in colour. Harmonious, serene aromas suggesting thyme, lavender, pine, tangerine and grilled meats, all smudged together into an enticing pastel wash. Still, too, a wealthy wine on the palate, the ample, plump, structuring tannins and ripe, stately, expressive flavours. No fruit left no, but lots of mushroom, cigar leaf, meat juices - and that lingering stony warmth which is a hallmark of Vieux Télégraphe.