Nobody is more excited about 2016 Châteauneuf reds than Daniel Brunier. For this seasoned vigneron, it undoubtedly ranks among the best vintages of his lifetime, reminiscent of the great 1978 for its majestically balanced structure, palate-saturating flavor, and presumably for its capacity to age gracefully through the decades. Crafted from old Grenache on the stony plateau of Piedlong along with a dollop of Mourvèdre from the sandy Pignan vineyard, this cuvée offers immediacy without sacrificing the potential for a long evolution in bottle. With its sturdy tannic backbone tenderly enveloped in sweet, perfumed fruit, the 2016 Piedlong is confirmation of Daniel’s enthusiastic assessment of the vintage.
Vignobles Brunier embodies the ensemble of the holdings by the Brunier family. Brothers Frédéric and Daniel are the fourth generation of their family to farm the land of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They have worked hard to solidify the legacy left by their father, Henri, and their great-grandfather, Hippolyte. In 1986, the family complemented their portfolio, offering more affordable cuvées that showcase the diversity of terroirs within their holdings. The “Pigeoulet” and “Mégaphone” are fresh, rich in fruit and easy to appreciate young. The red Châteauneuf “Piedlong”, sourced from the Piélong lieu-dit, is a profoundly mineral wine that balances elegance and purity with the muscle that is found in this great appellation.
The southern Rhône valley is Grenache country. It’s also known for its stones. With a viticulture history dating back well before the Popes arrived in the 12th century and one of France’s oldest appellations d'origine contrôlée, Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, the southern Rhône is unquestionably one of France’s best known and premier winegrowing regions. The wines have the pedigree and age-worthiness of Burgundy and Bordeaux, but with a rustic, Mediterranean character. Like most wines from southern France, the reds, whites, and rosés are blends. Filling out the Grenache for the reds and rosés, you’ll often find Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. The common white grape varieties are Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Viognier, Roussane, and Marsanne among others. From the alluvial riverbed stones found in Lirac, Tavel, and Châteauneuf to the limestone cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail that influence Beaumes-de-Venise (where you’ll find excellent Muscat), Vacqueyras, and Gigondas, great terroir abounds.
Kermit’s entrance in the region came in the mid 1970s on his first trip with Richard Olney, an American ex-pat and friend of Alice Waters. On that trip, Richard introduced Kermit to the Brunier family of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. Soon after, Kermit began importing the Brunier’s wines—their Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau” bottling remains a staple of our portfolio today. In the late 1990s Kermit teamed up with the Brunier family to purchase the famed Gigondas estate, Domaine Les Pallières. More than 40 years later, we now import wines from fifteen southern Rhône domaines spanning the entire area of the region.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
Inspiring Thirst, page 174
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