La Crau from Vieux Télégraphe
by Jane Augustine
In the hundred-plus years since founder Hippolyte Brunier began making wine history in the southern Rhône village of Bédarrides, six generations at Vieux Télégraphe have helped carry the torch, lighting the way and setting the bar higher for the entire appellation. Vintage after vintage, the La Crau plateau produces some of the most anticipated bottlings of Grenache—with a handful of other native grapes—in the world and, with the guidance of the Bruniers, gives us the most typical expression and accurate snapshot of the vintage as Mother Nature intended. While the wines may be Rhône by definition, I’m often struck by their camaraderie with more Mediterranean appellations. The wines of VT are Provençal at heart, in style and character, yet maintain a level of finesse that’s wholly their own. It might be the mythical polished stones that litter the vineyards, or simply the savoir faire of the artisans who make them. Either way, it’s eternally rewarding to sample their new releases year after year.
One of the many benefits of working with such old vines on the La Crau plateau, Daniel Brunier says, is that because the plants are low-yielding, they are less likely to suffer from hydric stress, even during a dry vintage like 2020. The fruit remains buoyant, balanced, and, in this case, ripe with olive, sage, and velvety black cherry. Tannins are softer this year than they were in 2019, but this vintage is nonetheless bold and ready to age for as long as you’re patient enough to cellar it.
Only about five percent of the wine produced in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is white, making this bottling a rare and beloved treat for its unique point of view in a sea of reds. The Clairette-based 2021 vintage is among the freshest in memory and one of the most complex whites on our shelves. Gone are the days when I crave only austere white wines! The silkiness and richness of a bit of flesh, the honeyed notes—it’s a dream for the senses.