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Bill Spohn

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WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:46 pm

We gathered at a local restaurant, Bonita, for a meal and to taste a couple of mature 1998 Chateauneuf du Papes:

1998 Beaucastel – this has always had a reputation for being forward and for having less than the customary proportion of Mouvedre. It had an immediately attractive but simple fruit nose, a bit sweet and ripe, and the entry was also surprisingly sweet. The wine has pretty much resolved the tannins and while it was mellow on palate, and quite ready to drink, I found it disappointing in the context of just about any other vintage of Beaucastel. How could such a good maker manage to create such a middling wine in such an outstanding vintage?

1998 Vieux Donjon – this is one of my favourites and I’ve been opening a bottle every year or two to keep an eye on things (I have a couple of cases stashed for when it hit plateau). The good news is it is now there! Funkier nose with dark berry fruit, developing some pepper and meaty tones with time in the glass, and some black olive and leather hints. Medium bodied with good fruit levels and a slight terminal astringency, finishing with good length, and still fairly firm tannins that actually seemed to harden a bit and assert themselves as the wine opened up. No rush but I’m going to start enjoying this whenever I like as it has arrived!
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David M. Bueker

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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by David M. Bueker » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:16 pm

Humph...I have had much better luck with that Beau.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:11 pm

That's the third time I've had it and it has been consistently underwhelming, although this one seemed even sweeter and riper than the earlier ones. Not bad, but not a really good Beaucastel, which is what you should be able to expect with that vintage.

Nose and entry like the 99 but lacks the elegance and balance of that vintage.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by David M. Bueker » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:56 pm

Well the 98 is not a typical Beau with all that Grenache.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:02 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Well the 98 is not a typical Beau with all that Grenache.


No, I think that may be part of it. Probably why it has always drunk well even when young, too.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Jenise » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:43 pm

A question for anyone who cares to opine: the '98 vintage seems to be the poster child for Southern Rhone greatness to which all vintages since get compared. Has there been a vintage since anywhere close? I've heard suggestions that 2010 might be one.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:02 pm

Going back the other way, the 1989 and 1990 were excellent. With 2010 it is too early to tell.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Jenise » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:27 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Going back the other way, the 1989 and 1990 were excellent.


Sure were.

Too early to tell.


Uh, when will you know? :)
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:35 pm

Jenise wrote:
Bill Spohn wrote:Going back the other way, the 1989 and 1990 were excellent.


Sure were.

Too early to tell.


Uh, when will you know? :)


Typically in 5 - 10 years. Hope the early reports prove true.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Harry Cantrell » Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:49 pm

1998 Beau has been the second most variable in my experience (89 first) With regard to Ch9Pape vintages I quite like 2001.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:08 pm

Yeah, the 2001 is excellent.

The problems with the 1989 (and to a lesser degree the 1990) were that the winemaking facilities were basically unclean and you had a bret issue that would manifest in one batch but not another so reports were wildly inconsistent. Perrin swore it was nothing but the usual funkiness you get in the nose from the high proportion of Mourvedre (this passes off in 8-10 years) but that wouldn't account for the variability. To complicate matters, bret in small amounts does indeed create a complexity long prior to when the wine would normally develop that and can be pretty positive, except for those that hate bret.

Time I hauled out some 1989 to see if any given bottle is good or really bad, as those are the extremes it covers.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by David M. Bueker » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:47 pm

I find 2001 to be the most consistently excellent vintage in my buying experience (I was too late for '89 and '90). 1998 is very fine, but also rather variable in my experience.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Jim Grow » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:51 pm

1989 Beaucastel had another problem in that they added a new cork producer and iirc about half of the wines were corked with the new corks and a goodly % of these were leakers. I bought a 1/2 case on release ( should have bought much more) and 2 of these were leakers but still excellent. I tried to buy some more of these that were in storage at McArthurs a few years later but was told that they were all going back to the producer and not for sale. So much for experiments with croks to save a few bucks.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Lou Kessler » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:02 pm

Had to drink all of my six 89s early because of leaking. Little young but tasted pretty fine any how.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:09 pm

Still have 8 of the 89s, all non-leakers, so it will be interesting to try one soon.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Patrick Martin » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:28 am

Another vote for the 2001's. Just fantastic pretty much across the board, even some of the luxury cuvees are good in '01!
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Jenise » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:20 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Still have 8 of the 89s, all non-leakers, so it will be interesting to try one soon.


I'd be happy to sacrifice myself.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Salil » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:04 pm

Not a fan of a lot of 1998s, and never been a fan of the 1998 Beau. There are some very good CdPs I've had from that vintage (Pegau, VT, Clos des Papes), but I've found others overly ripe and heavy, or some just plain disappointing. Even the 98 Rayas is rather below par!

Big fan of a lot of the 2001s I've had though. And from some top producers (Pegau and Rayas in particular), I've also found the 2000s quite lovely - a little more accessible and open-knit, and drinking really well now.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Rainer from CH » Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:23 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I find 2001 to be the most consistently excellent vintage in my buying experience


Have you ever tried 2001 Charvin CdP? I just love it. :D
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Bill Spohn » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:58 pm

Rainer from CH wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:I find 2001 to be the most consistently excellent vintage in my buying experience


Have you ever tried 2001 Charvin CdP? I just love it. :D



Nope, but have the 2005 in the cellar - think I'll give it a few years before trying it.
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Re: WTN: 1998 Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon

by Tim York » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:24 am

With this thread and another similar one on the UK Wine Pages in mind, I naturally thought of trying CndP Beaucastel 1998 when Germaine served a rich spicy stew of marcassin (young wild boar) generously marinated and cooked in a whole bottle of Côtes du Roussillon Villages.

Thankfully my expectations were comfortably exceeded as I seem to have chanced upon a good bottle. There was nothing "porty" or oxidised here, as some have complained; indeed the wine was fresher and brighter and the quite sweet fruit more primary than I would have expected even without having read some of the unenthusiastic write-ups. It was full, rich and spicy enough to complement the marcassin beautifully but it managed to remain polished and elegant with some secondary complexity beginning to appear and with smooth tannins (enrobés).

I have had Beaucastel with more depth and structure and I missed the leather notes which I used love in Beau when not dominant but it was highly enjoyable. Some people claim that this wine was better when younger and I see no need to age it further but I do not expect it to disintegrate or fade rapidly; 16.5/20+++.
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