Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape 2005 (Southern Rhone, France)
The more Southern Rhone reds I try, the more I realise just how good Australian GSM’s are. We have the same high quality resources – 100 yr old bush vines, low cropped and lovingly nurtured in all the right spaces and with committed winemakers to boot. However, its not hard to love big and lovingly obvious wines like this.
Mid red with comparatively light ruby edges. The nose is roasted and Grenache influenced, infused with aniseed, roast beef & just a hint of volatility. Its smells of black jubes, ripe Grenache and peppery, but without any obvious alcohol heat. It’s quite pretty even. Quite pure for a CdP as well.
On the palate the aniseed/black licorice character is even more prominent with stewed fruit, malt & Cranberry. The palate is generous and mouthfilling, with quite a slap of pure alcohol on the finish, but nothing unusual for a committed Rhone fan (it might scare off newbies though. It sort of sits mid tier on the scale of palate weight, neither explosively chunky like some Barossan reds, nor overtly light & candied like some Grenache dominated blends. The clincher though is the chewy, gritted teeth, sticks to the upper gums tannins that are ever so bitter, but should resolve with about 5 years in bottle.
Overall its quite a lovely and mid weight CdP with a big, licoricey & quite pure palate, backed by real fruit tannins. Its a nice red, but the value is a little questionable when you place it next to some Aussie examples. You could argue they don’t have the pedigree of this famous wine, don’t have the track record for ageability, lack those lovely chewy old world tannins etc. However if you put this blind next to a Torbreck Steading, a Charles Melton Nine Popes, Steve Pannell’s Shiraz Grenache or Drew Noon’s Eclipse and the argument heats up.
Still, there is no doubting the quality and sheer, lovingly formed hedonistic joy here. Plus there is always that great bottle….18.6+