The heart of the expanding Brunier family empire, this is one of the best-known estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, thanks to the family’s obsession with quality and the long-term association with pioneering American importer Kermit Lynch. Other Brunier properties in the region include Clos la Roquête and Piedlong, listed separately but also tasted at Vieux Télégraphe with the gracious Daniel Brunier. The previous summer had not been kind to Vieux Télégraphe, as a violent, tornadic hailstorm struck la Crau the night of August 14-15, 2022. « It was an incredible tornado, » said Brunier. « It destroyed everything in 15 minutes. » All of the fruit that was left subsequently went into the 2022 Chateauneuf du Pape Telegramme—there are no Vieux Télégraphe La Crau bottlings from 2022. « There was a big mistral after the hail, » said Brunier, which allowed the damaged grapes to dry up without spreading rot to anything that was spared. « We ended up picking about four or five hectoliters per hectare from La Crau, » said Brunier. « There were so few grapes, we picked 80 hectares in five days. » Yet all wasn’t somber at Vieux Télégraphe. Brunier quite likes the 2021 vintage, characterizing it as, « a fine, elegant, balanced year. Compared to 2020, it was a bit more normal, with some rain during harvest, which was important for the style of the wine. Generally, speaking, I like the ‘lightness’ of the vintage. I believe in this kind of vintage. We have a classic V.T. » The 2021 V.T. is a solid effort, in line with the family’s recent efforts to get more elegance in their wines. And the white wine shouldn’t be overlooked, either. For more details on Clos la Roquête and Piedlong, please see those listings.2020 Vieux Télégraphe – (93-95)
2021 Vieux Télégraphe – (92-94)
Still in tank when I visited in June 2023, the 2021 Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau features scents of crushed stone accenting ripe cherries and hints of garrigue. Medium to full-bodied, it offers taut acids allied to silky tannins and ample length on the finish. It’s not a huge blockbuster, but it fits nicely with the Brunier family’s evolution toward more elegance in their wines. Tasted twice, with consistent notes.
2022 Piedlong – (94-96)
Taking its name from a lieu-dit, Piedlong is a Brunier family project focused on Grenache Noir from sandy soils, in contrast to the galets roulés that characterize the La Crau bottling from Vieux Télégraphe. The usual blend is 90% Grenache from le Pied Long and 10% Mourvèdre from Pignan. This is a lighter-hued, more ephemeral expression of Grenache and CdP, yet it’s one that can still possess ample aging potential. The 2021 is particularly successful in a challenging vintage, even if it is more of an early-drinker.
A superb effort, Piedlong’s 2022 Chateauneuf du Pape is the same blend as typical—90% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre—but a step up in quality compared to the 2021. From sandy soils, it delivers delicate florals, alpine strawberries and garrigue-like notes, while being full-bodied, ripe and round in the mouth. Silky, with bright acids, it finishes long, spicy and zesty. Impressive.
2021 Piedlong – (92-94)
Tasted just prior to bottling, Piedlong’s 2021 Chateauneuf du Pape is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre from the lieu-dit of the same name. Scents of roses, red berries and citrus zest appear on the nose, while the medium to full-bodied palate is silky and elegant, with a hint of cracked pepper on the lingering finish.
2021 Vieux Télégraphe blanc – 93
Bottled just one week before my 2022 visit, the 2021 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc was showing no ill effects then and confirmed its quality when I retasted it in June 2023. Effusive notes of citrus, white peach and pineapple burst from the glass, while in the mouth, the wine is medium to full-bodied, plump and rounded, with a silky feel and a charming note of fennel on the lingering, refreshing finish. Tasted twice, with consistent notes.
2022 Clos Roquète – (92-94)
Roughly one-third each Clairette, Grenache and Roussanne, the 2022 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc was still awaiting bottling at the end of June 2023. Hints of honey accent ripe pineapple aromas in this medium to full-bodied wine, which is plump and round in the mouth, yet it finishes bright and zesty, with ample citrusy length.
2021 Clos Roquète – 92
The 2021 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc is a rather zesty and crisp style with scents of lime and pink grapefruit on the nose. Just medium-bodied, it’s plump and round, showing some lees influence, then clean, refreshing and long, showing excellent intensity and a distinctive character. Tasted twice, with consistent notes..
2022 Télégramme – (91-94)
Showing more concentration and intensity than normal, the 2022 Chateauneuf du Pape Telegramme also delivers strawberry and cherry notes. It’s medium to full-bodied, with ample tannin and length. I’m sure the quality of this cuvée is scant consolation for the complete loss of the family’s La Crau bottling to hail, but customers should recognize the Bruniers’ efforts to maintain their high standards.
2021 Télégramme – 91
The plump, succulent 2021 Chateauneuf du Pape Telegramme offers cheerful strawberry, raspberry and redcurrant fruit. It’s medium to full-bodied, silky and elegant, offering plenty of near-term enjoyment. Tasted twice, with consistent notes.