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The Archive: Château de Beaucastel

The Archive: Château de Beaucastel

While within the Winedoctor walls I focus on Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, I do have many other tasting notes lurking in the background that may be of interest. Here I present some old tasting notes on the wines of Château de Beaucastel, one of the leading estates in Châteauneuf du Pape. These notes are from a number of different tastings I have attended over the years, as well as a number of bottles tasted at home, and are generally quite dated.

In recent years I have only tended to report on these wines in the context of anniversary tastings, such as my Fifteen, Twenty and Twenty-Five Years On reports, so look there for more recent notes. For other dusty old notes, check out the rest of my Archive. (16/5/20)

Château de Beaucastel

Tasting Notes

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2003

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2003: Very dark on inspection, and a touch glossy even. Very typical of 2003 on the nose, rather than of Beaucastel, emitting the same roasted confit cherry fruit I have also found in Tuscany and Bordeaux when tasting or drinking this vintage. Notes of black pepper too, perhaps the Syrah showing through? Rich and creamy, perhaps unsurprisingly, with lots of extract, texture and substance. Rather a touch of bitter cherry here, on the edge, but still a broad, mouthfilling, ripe and rich style. Loads of structure. Grippy finish. The palate is very typical of the vintage too, then! I am unsure as to how this one will develop. 17-18?/20 (June 2007)

2001

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2001: A great and obviously maturing hue here, red tones towards the rim but with a dark, dusty, treacly-tawny hue at the core. A lovely nose, obviously ripe but not overly warm or soft. The nose has elements of liquorice, and then is more gamey although with a firm and well-framed character. Dark and curranty and smoky fruit, with a ripe, roasted-but-not-sweet raspberry element too. The palate is supple but very rich, structured, with a good ripe and upright tannic backbone with plenty of firm acids too. Almost elegant in terms of its dancing presence on the palate, but it reveals more substance and depth towards the finish. A great wine, with a punchy, albeit slightly warm finish, which just sings potential. A different class (and something of a different style) to many of the other wines here. This is excellent, and given time it could be one of the greatest Beaucastels ever. From a 2001 Southern Rhône tasting. 19+/20 (April 2010)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2001: Very dense, opaque and concentrated, with incredibly dense roasted cherry fruit on the nose, pure yet feral and meaty, with fabulous intensity. This is remarkable. Full, creamy, dense and concentrated on the palate, yet fresh and cool, extracted, full of smoky and meaty fruit. Fabulous, broad, feral and characterful, a remarkably rich wine, packed with extract of smoky blueberry and just screaming potential for the future. This is an incredible vintage for Beaucastel, and I am glad I have my other bottles safely tucked away in the cellar. 19-19.5+/20 (June 2007)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2001: This has a deep colour, with a purple tinge. Wow – what an intense nose, full of slightly rubbery dark fruits. The palate is wonderful, balanced and textured, but with power, and perfect acidity making for a delightful fluid elegance. Tarry-ripe, but with attractive floral notes too. Truly brilliant wine with superb potential for the cellar. Needs 10-15 years. 19.5+/20 (July 2004)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2001: Wonderful depth of colour, a dark, inky purple. Great nose – sweet Grenache cherry character, with real depth. Mourvèdre shows through more on the palate, which is meaty with cigar box nuances. Full of fruit, powerful, but with elegant balance. Lovely tannic structure underneath it all, hidden by the fruit at present. Undoubtedly top wine of the tasting, north and south. Tasted in a Southern Rhône 2001 tasting. 19+/20 (March 2003)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2001: The opening wine starts off a little medicinal but soon sorts itself out, revealing ripe and slightly roasted fruit, with a tinge of balsamic character to it, although nothing too fleshy or overdone on the palate. Dark, characterful, spicy, with liquorice tar and rose petals. Dry but fleshy palate, well textured but also well composed, exuberant in terms of flavour, with a rich spicy character, again a touch balsamic, but with none of the overly sweet character that can go with it. Rather it is composed and savoury, rich but not flabby, the substance kept in place by ripe, velvety tannins and decent acidity. Cracking wine for the money. A touch hot in the finish, but still lovely to drink. Ready now – but no rush here. From a 2001 Southern Rhône tasting. 17.5/20 (April 2010)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2001: A dark, richly coloured wine here, showing a little change towards more mature hues but certainly nothing of concern. The nose still has some primary cherry fruit, but with a meaty twist. Fresh palate, with a fine backbone of tannins and pleasantly rounded fruit. Rather firmly composed, just a little sweetness to the texture, and a touch more elegant and reserved than when I last tasted it. Still has plenty of life left in it. Very good indeed. 17.5/20 (February 2007)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2001: Moderate depth of colour, surprisingly showing a little early maturity at the rim. Paradoxically very primary on the nose, showing fairly pure, quite expressive, sweet Grenache-derived cherry fruit, partnered with nothing more than a little meaty richness. Elegant rather than forceful concentration on the palate, still with a bite of tannin that shows on the finish, and fairly firm acidity; it needs a couple of hours in the glass to show its mettle, however, revealing good extract, texture and depth through the midpalate. A little creamy richness, with some good black cherry fruit, with notes of tar and flowers. Reports I have heard suggesting this is a poor effort from Beaucastel are unfounded; this is fine, although in need of air if opened now, and will be much better in four or five years time. 18+/20 (July 2005)

White Wines

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2001: This wine has a pale, golden-yellow hue in the glass. The nose is delightful, full of ripe melon, peach, and pear fruit, and is loaded with minerals. There is also a sense of a fat, rich, quality, which certainly comes through on the palate also. Very dry, but with a fat, rich and slightly oily texture, and a flavour profile of bitter minerals with some stone fruit. Notes of quinine on the finish. Very approachable now, but surely set for future development. Drink or hold for five years at least. 18+/20 (February 2003)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2001: A blend of 30% each Marsanne, Viognier and Bourboulenc, with 10% Clairette. A mid gold hue. The nose quickly opens up here, to reveal aromas of tropical and stone fruit salad, with notes of sweet, juicy pears and pineapple. The palate has a velvety, rounded texture, with a touch of grip derived from a low level of tannins, and quite shy acidity. There are flavours of sweet pear and cherimoya fruit, with a hint of peach, and somewhat more obvious notes of white pepper and vanilla too. Lovely. Ready now, and for drinking over the next five years. 17/20 (April 2004)

2000

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2000: A couple of years on since I last tried this, and it still has a dense hue, although with perhaps a little more maturity creeping in at the sides now. The nose is explosive and characterful though, showing a deep array of scents, more complex and intricate than I recall. We still have the cherry element, although it is presented in a richer, darker, macerated black cherry style, and behind this there are notes of polished, minerally stone, flowers, alongside more muted sweet and yet animally elements. Pure, rich and yet well defined on entry, with creamy substance but fresh acids and good balance, this wine is still certainly on the way up, as evidenced by a kick of tannins at the finish. Fine, scented, with dried black olive flavour, yet also substantial, this is excellent wine with bags of potential yet, but it is drinking very nicely now if you like wines that lie on the cusp between primary and secondary characteristics. From a 2000 Southern Rhône tasting. 18.5+/20 (September 2009)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2000: A youthful, dense, concentrated wine which has a very expressive nose. It is filled with fruit of a ripe, cherry confit style, clean and pure, but with a rich, feral seam in the background, and a little furry toffee (if that makes sense!). This is really very, very enticing, and certainly holds a lot of promise. The palate is deliciously cool, rich and broad, quite deep, firmly acidic yet rounded and structured. It is very grippy and full of the promise suggested by the nose. Rich, delightfully extracted, well defined and very exciting. When stacked against 1998, 2001 and 2003, I think 2000 is an under-rated vintage. 18.5+/20 (June 2007)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2000: A blood red hue here, showing an earthy tinge too. The nose is dark, earthy, meaty, with perhaps some Brett influence. Slightly chalky tannins on the palate, although there is plenty of texture, and lots of meaty, macerated fruit. Very supple, ripe tannins. A big, impressive, mouthfilling wine built for the cellar. Excellent. Needs ten years. 19+/20 (July 2004)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2000: The second wine of Beaucastel. This wine has a deep, rich, oxblood tones, with a fresh, pink rim. The nose is delightful; it has progressed onto a complexity that this wine didn’t possess two years ago, today showing savoury roasted meats, macerated and powerfully flavoured cherry fruit, with notes of tar, leather and flower petals. The palate is similarly impressive, showing a really fine but rich substance at first which fills the palate with savoury, macerated fruit and the flavours of sweetly charred meat. It keeps a broad presence through to the finish, backed up by fine, very slightly minerally tannins which, with the soft acidity, provide a welcome freshness to it. I previously said drink up; based on this bottle this was premature, but I would certainly encourage anyone who has this wine to drink now – because it is delicious. From a 2000 Southern Rhône tasting. 17.5/20 (September 2009)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2000: A good colour here, certainly raising no concern. A clean, cherry gaminess with a somewhat medicinal edge on the nose which is rather appealing. Clean lines on the palate, full and rather firmly grippy, with a firm backbone of slightly prominent alcohol and a little tannin. It has a decent texture though, with a woody, mouth-puckering presence. Good, fresh acidity. This is certainly preferable to the preceding two vintages, although clearly there are problems with the bottles of the 1998 in this tasting. Nevertheless although this is drinking well I must say I think I preferred it back in 2005, when it had so much more character, and when it seemed a touch less angular. Drink up. 17/20 (February 2007)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2000: Dark, youthful, dense and concentrated hue. A nose of dark cherries, with floral and tar aromas, blended with sooty raspberry fruit. Full, somewhat creamy palate, with great extract and lovely acidity. Plump but structured, with a delicious core of tannins, which are supple and yet firm. There are lovely nuances of flavour popping in and out on the palate; coffee, liquorice and cherries, in particular. Firm, sooty finish. This is super. 18+/20 (July 2005)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2000: Vibrant garnet red with moderate intensity of hue. Quite a lot of volatile acidity on the nose, with roasting meat, and a metallic, sticking plaster element suggestive of Brett. With time in the glass an aroma of dark cherry fruits comes to dominate. Medium bodied on the palate, pleasantly textured, sweet and spicy cherry fruit, and quite some tannin on the finish. Correct balance otherwise. There is a thin vein of volatile acidity running through the palate. A raw, backward wine which needs time in the cellar to gain some harmony, but which will be great. 17.5+/20 (February 2003)

White Wines

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2000: An enticing colour here, a pale golden hue with a nuance of onion-skin. The nose offers up aromas of pears, stone fruits, herbs and minerals. A clean and rounded layer of fruit on the palate, with nuances of bitter herbs, minerals, quinine and blossom. A creamy texture balanced by fresh, crisp acidity through to the finish. 16.5/20 (December 2001)

1999

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1999: This wine has a dense and youthful hue, with a very dark core, and a youthful red rim. The nose has a good complexity, and is quite feral and savage, alongside notes of meaty, cherry fruit. The palate is rich, full and deep, with a dense and grippy character, more so than I would have expected taking into account this is regarded as one of the fresher of recent vintages. There is plenty of texture and substance, and a firm acidity to balance it out. This is quite fine. 18+/20 (June 2007)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1999: From a half bottle. The colour here is a little less dense and impressive than the preceding wine. It looks a little more youthful though. There is plenty of Mourvèdre character on the nose, with a sweet cured meat note alongside dense, macerated fruit. Fabulous! There is concentration on the palate, but immediately apparent elegance as well. Macerated Mourvèdre fruit, beautifully balanced, and a very fluid, feather-light glide across the palate. Real finesse here. Brilliant. Needs four or five years. 18.5+/20 (July 2004)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1999: The first bottle was corked and discarded. The second shows a mature hue – a worrying moment. Thankfully, though, this is better than the majority of the preceding bottles of the 1998, although it is still a touch leaner than I would have expected. A little note of volatility here on the nose also, although it is fairly subtle and blows off. It is rather withdrawn though, but on the palate at least it has a texture and presence which tells you this wine is still very much alive. The meaty gaminess of my previous tasting note has gone, and this is now rather more subtle. It has a little elegance. I think this is good, although I am not filled with confidence and do not plan to keep my last remaining bottle for too long – perhaps closer to the three years (or perhaps even less) rather than the five I suggested last time. 17/20 (February 2007)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1999: A real contrast in colour here; this has a deep, vibrant, youthful red hue, with little change in colour out at the rim. Lovely nose; immediately meaty, gamey, tarry, floral, only with a little air showing some nuances of Grenache cherry fruit. Great extract on the palate, with a creamy sensation, but underpinned by very good structure. Firm tannins, fine acidity. Cherry and peppery garrigue fruit. Even some length. This is lovely. Approachable now, but will certainly improve over the next 3-5 years. 17+/20 (July 2005)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1999: A dense red hue, cut through with a tinge of purple. Although somewhat closed at first, the nose opens with time, revealing very primary aromas of sweet berry fruits. The palate has firm, chalky tannins, good minerality, and correct acidity. There is sweet character to the fruit at this stage. Medium bodied, with a round edge to the texture. This wine certainly has potential for 5-7 years in the cellar. 17+/20 (June 2002)

1998

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1998: One of the few wines that I have subsequently acquired in quantity, which I first tasted in an impressive mini-vertical, also taking in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 – followed by the same vintages of Vieux Télégraphe. It was stunning then, and on this tasting it remains so. It has only a moderately deep, gently maturing colour. The nose does have some baked fruit elements to it, which I commented on when I last tasted this wine, but unlike some other wines in this tasting it is not the predominant feature. There is a twiggy, Grenache-fruit element to it, as well as roasted meats, and exotic notes of cloves and curry spices. The palate carries richness, but it also carries excellent acidity, and a slightly more backward feel than many of its peers. It has a lovely broad presence in the mouth though, and although it shows tannic grip and definition it also has a complete although very masculine feel to it. Delicious wine with fabulous potential for the future; I expect this will drink well for well over a decade yet, if not for two. From a 1998 Southern Rhône tasting. 19+/20 (February 2008)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1998: My first bottle from my case. A deep, rich hue, a dark red-black colour, almost opaque. The nose is already complex, showing some early secondary characteristics. It is fury and feral, deep, rich and meaty. There is still some primary, Grenache-cherry fruit beneath all this though. Rich, deeply flavoured and brimming with roasted, meaty fruit, the palate has a baked, warm-vintage character. This has a full-on structure, plenty of firm tannin, and a lingering finish. Excellent potential, and certainly for the long haul. 19+/20 (June 2007)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1998: A youthful, deep red hue here. The colour suggests a year or two of bottle age. A lovely nose showing complexity; minerals, dense red fruits, with a gamy edge. A vibrant palate, with the fruit showing purity although it has a full, rounded, gamy-tarry character. This is textured, mouthfilling, with very ripe tannins showing on the endpalate. Lovely acidity. In fact a very lovely wine that simply exudes class. Needs 8-10 years. 19.5+/20 (July 2004)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1998: The opening wine was perhaps one of the worst; on pouring it has a very mature colour, worryingly so, with a brownish tinge to the rim. The nose is all over the place, with an awful volatility and notes of oxidation the most dominant features. The palate has completely fallen apart, with a hot, disjointed finish. I opened another two bottles which were less overtly over the hill, but nevertheless were certainly not something I would choose to drink. This experience was in marked contrast with my tasting note in 2005, and with other contemporary tasting notes for these wines today. This is the result of poor storage I think; if I recall correctly I did buy two small batches of the 1998 Coudoulet, which would explain why I have had some good and some bad. The fourth bottle was fine, a complete contrast, obviously purchased at a different time. A lively hue, showing an orange-pink rim of maturity around a healthy red core, and with a nose of meaty raspberry fruit. On the palate, it is sweetly textured, rounded and complete, with a little core of tannins and grip. Just slightly bitter towards the finish, where the wine would benefit from a little more resolution of the tannins. Very complete, rather reminiscent (unsurprisingly) of the grand vin from a lesser vintage – particularly the 1994. My score refers to this final bottle. 17/20 (February 2007)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1998: Still a deeply coloured core, with some maturity, but not significant. The nose is very Grenache dominated, offering plenty of sweet Cherry pie, peppered with garrigue herbs. Medium body, slightly rustic cherry fruit, still quite primary, with plenty of tannin and good acidity. It has a lovely feel and is quite approachable now but, in my cellar, this needs more time yet. Two to three years, perhaps. 16.5+/20 (July 2005)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1998: Opened and decanted it an hour before drinking to help it open up. Plenty of fruit on the nose here, as well as meaty, fried beef aromas with nuances of spice, leather and tar. Medium bodied, it has ripe but slightly chalky tannins. There is fine but somewhat soft acidity, delicious for drinking alone but it makes the wine seem a little flabby when drunk with food. There are loads of chewy, savoury red fruits. A little length, when the tannins become more prominent. Despite having acidity on the low side, this wine has balance, and I feel there is plenty of potential for improvement here. 16.5+/20 (August 2001)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1998: Another wine which I have tasted before. This time it gives little on the nose, just the suggestion of ripe fruit. The palate shows a good structure, supporting flavours of char grilled bell peppers and black fruit. This is full of very primary, youthful flavours. It has style, and great potential. From an Oddbins tasting. 16.5+/20 (November 2001)

1997

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1997: Deeply coloured, and very characterful on the nose, this is smoky, feral and furry, and has a more savage, farmyardy character than I can ever remember from previous tastings of this vintage. On the palate it is full, very rich, quite creamy, but also rather brutally youthful. It has plenty of grip, and is brawny in style, with good notes of pickling spices. Over this there is a plush, textured, almost velvety layer of fruit. It still has bags of potential for the cellar., but needs another 3-5 years minimum, but should drink very well after that. 17+/20 (June 2007)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1997: A deep red wine, with just the barest amber hint of maturity. Plenty of fruit on the nose, smouldering charcoal, cigar smoke and roasted herbs. Lovely texture on the palate. Mouth filling, with an appealingly low acidity. Wonderful flavours, black cherries and macerated summer fruits, and more of that smoky character. Not at all flabby despite that low acidity, with lovely structure coming from firm, unyielding tannins. A full fat finish. It’s remarkable that this wine should suddenly appear in a supermarket, quite mature and ready to drink. Certainly excellent value for money. 16.5/20 (June 2002)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 1997: There are some fresh aromas here, of charred wood, rubber and sweet black fruit. More lovely fresh black fruit on the palate, with a good although somewhat prominent tannic structure. Fresh acidity. This is a stylish Rhône wine which has development potential. 16.5/20 (August 2001)

1996

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1996: Lots of colour here, and a complex tertiary nose, showing some Brett. Notes of sticking plaster with a deep, characterful, animalistic trait, and nuances of stony black olive. This has a much more obvious character than on any previous tasting. A nice weight on the palate, filled to the brim with Brett though, and with a sweet, mature, slightly stewed edge to the fruit, and some midpalate roasted meats. Rich for the vintage, rounded, but a little tinny on the finish. And a bit raw here too. Good, but for drinking up soon I think. 16.5/20 (June 2007)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1996: Decanted for one hour. Obviously more mature in colour than my last tasting – a big change from the opaque colour last seen. Initially animal fur nose, then baked fruit, with little highlights of raspberry and strawberry. Starts off a little lean, with slightly prominent acidity, but it changes quite a bit in the glass developing a fairly rich feel, and then that acidity seems entirely appropriate. Sweet, slightly meaty, baked fruit. Just a tweak of tannin towards the finish. Quite fine for a lesser vintage. Ready now but will drink for a decade I think. 16.5+/20 (August 2004)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1996: Another almost opaque wine. Very young wine. Lots of unintegrated caramel and toffee aromas, with massive, brooding fruit and a touch of coffee. The palate is just gorgeous, with velvety yet powerful fruit. More toffee, coffee and caramel flavours. Balanced components, with tannins surprisingly only showing up on the finish. Peppery length. I could understand people drinking this now, but it really needs a year or two of integration before I will open any of mine. 16.5+/20 (August 2001)

1995

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1995: This has a good depth of colour, quite dense. On the nose it seems rather hot and smoky, with burnt cherry fruit, with a sweet, liquorice edge. It doesn’t have the profound volatility found back in 2004 (I can still smell that wine now). A lovely texture on he palate, firm and structured, precise and grippy. Rather svelte, with sweet cherry notes, and little in the way of depth or complexity. Rounded, concentrated, lots of potential here, but playing a little dumb on this tasting. 17.5+/20 (June 2007)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1995: A dense, rich yet maturing colour. A very unusual nose – an aroma of polystyrene cement which is off-putting to say the least. Iodine and red fruits in the background. Good structure on the palate – although the unusual flavour makes it difficult to drink at present. It has firm tannins and a lovely balance. Needs time to come out of what is hopefully just an awkward phase. A couple more years in the cellar required here. From a 1995 Southern Rhône tasting. 17.5+/20 (February 2004)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1995: As with the 1994, almost opaque. This is more elegant, with none of the caramel or toffee seen in the previous wine, although it still has plump, lush fruit. At first it seems quite approachable on the palate as there is, as the nose suggested, a luxurious texture to the fruit. There are, however, some quite aggressive tannins through the midpalate. Although seeming quite loose-knit at present, this wine has the underlying acidity to balance out all this fruit and tannin. 17.5+/20 (August 2001)

1994

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1994: A mature appearance, although still rich in pigment. As noted previously, there is initial volatility on the nose, very much like nail polish remover or acetone, but this then fades to a more harmonious set of aromas, still high toned, but with sweetly roasted meats to the fore. There follows a bright palate, fresh and defined, certainly lively, with a volatile element rather like the nose. It has a good texture and a nice presence, leading to a good, firm and decisive finish. Overall, very good, and ready now. 17+/20 (June 2008)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1994: Obviously mature appearance, although still a lot of colour here. Some acetone volatile acidity on the nose, with medicinal calamine lotion and black olive aromas, but also dark and gamey, with liquorice, aniseed and a little rubber. An appealing, lifted nose indeed. Well defined palate, with roasted meat character. There is volatility here also, an attractive part of the whole package, which is bright, incisive, grippy, with a nice, rich extract. This is certainly much better than my last bottle, especially as the wine opens out over the course of the evening. Delicious, and ready to go now. 17+/20 (June 2007)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1994: I was intent on cracking open the first from my case of the 1998; young I know, but what’s the harm when you have a dozen? When I saw it buried beneath twenty other cases, however, I settled on the 1994, which was much more accessible. Good colour, a deep core, maturing rim. The nose displays a little disjointed alcohol, but this is more than compensated for by the meaty, furry, black olive character that is also present. Medium bodied, correct acidity, full and pleasing mouthfeel. Rather firm, just a little solid through the midpalate, but plenty of smoky, garriguey, underbrush appeal too. Very ripe, together, not-quite-seamless style, with some length. Very little development since my last tasting. Very good. From my 2006 Birthday Treats. 16.5+/20 (March 2006)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1994: Some volatility at first, but this soon dissipates. Moderate depth of colour, a burnt cherry red, with just a thin rim of age, so certainly some development here. Mature, meaty, animalistic nose, with notes of beef stock, cinnamon and paprika. Lovely texture on entry although certainly not lush as on my last tasting, but it has a good, sweet, rounded edge. Firm structure beneath still. Good flavour, culminating in a sweet raspberry finish. Nice length. Early drinking window – should go for five to ten years yet. A Christmas Wine. 16.5+/20 (December 2004)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1994: This is a youthful looking red-purple wine. The nose is at first quite medicinal, but this blows off to leave gamey, animalistic notes. With time the sweet Grenache fruit also shows well. The palate is big, soft and round, lush even. The tannins are integrating well, but show through the midpalate and finish. A high-toned acetone note to what little fruit is showing in the mouth, but some nice peppery acidity suggests this wine will go the distance. From a Southern Rhône 1994 blind tasting. 17+/20 (February 2002)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1994: Almost opaque. The most advanced wine of this flight, showing some gamy notes, hints of dark chocolate and green pepper aromas. More lush fruit on entry, and a tannic midpalate. Nevertheless this wine has elegance and good balance. Some complex pickling spices. The richness of texture persists right through to the finish. Another potentially superb wine. 17+/20 (August 2001)

1991

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1991: This is a fairly mature looking, quite pale red wine. Smoky leather and sweet fruit on the nose, leading to a full and rich palate, quite sweet and rich, with peppery fruit. Good although perhaps a touch too prominent acidity. Drying endpalate and finish. Drinking well know but very unlikely to improve. This is a vintage recognised as being rich in Brettanomyces. Drink up! 15.5/20 (August 2001)

1990

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1990: Similarly rich colour. Intense fruit, rich with aromas of roasted garrigue herbs, with nuances of ink and wet stones. A rich and hedonistic wine on entry, with an immediately apparent full and velvety texture. Despite its age this big and muscular wine still has a wealth of tannins, but with fine acidity and such rich fruit this wine will go the distance. Ripe fruits, with some aromatic, almost floral notes. A spicy, tannic finish, and some considerable length. This wine is still on the way up, and should be superb. 18.5+/20 (August 2001)

1989

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1989: A similar rich, saturated red-purple hue. This wine seems to have more secondary aromas than the previous two. Quite gamy, even farmyardy. Nevertheless, there is also a floral freshness to the abundance of rich, dark and smoky fruits. On the palate, this is again a charming and fruit-laden wine. Coffee grounds and spice towards the finish, and more spice and a bucketful of tannins on the length. Another wine that will be superb with further bottle age. 18.5+/20 (August 2001)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1989: Bags of fruit on the nose. Tannic palate, awash with fruit, not showing its age at all. Some spicy notes. Quite alcoholic. Finishes well with good length. This wine still has great potential. From a Châteauneuf du Pape 1989 blind tasting. 17.5+/20 (July 2000)

1988

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1988: A rich, saturated red-purple hue. This wine is also loaded with fruit. It has an elegant nose, which offers enticing wisps of violets and game, but otherwise does seem a little dumb. The palate, however, is very expressive, full of charm, with delightful, vibrant fruit and roasted herbs. This has less tannin than the 1990, although they do show on the finish. There is a hedonistic, luxurious texture underpinned with correct acidity. Finishes very well indeed, leading to an incredible, gamy length. 18/20 (August 2001)

1985

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1985: Only just the palest wine of the flight, with a red-mahogany hue. Despite this, again the nose is loaded with lush, leafy fruit. There are nuances of ink, game and rubber. Nevertheless the fruit is fading from the palate, which has more gamy and leathery secondary characteristics. A nicely structured wine, with a velvety texture and correct supporting acidity. The tannins have all but disappeared, just showing a little on the finish, together with a tiny flourish of sweet fruit. Quite a length. 18/20 (August 2001)

1983

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1983: This wine looks very different, only slightly darker than the 1981, but a much more youthful red-purple hue. Loaded with fruit on the nose, with an edge of wet pebbles and stones. Freshly ground coffee. This wine seems so young! If I didn’t know this was a wine from the early 1980s I would have thought it about five years old just on the nose. The palate doesn’t really alter this impression, with plenty of rich and smoky black and red fruits. It is quite tightly held together, although smooth and finely textured, with balanced acidity. Tannins show up on the midpalate and finish leading to a great length. This wine has years ahead of it. 18.5+/20 (August 2001)

1981

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1981: A richly coloured mahogany wine, impressive after the 1991. On the nose, complex secondary aromas of rubber and leather armchairs. There are gamy, animalistic notes, with marmite and an organic, grainy, animal-feed, yeast extract aroma. Quite full on entry, with more gamy, animal-like flavours and lovely red fruits. There are soft, integrated tannins, with perfectly correct acidity and a full, rich texture. Good balance has seen this wine through, and it finishes very well with a slightly peppery length. 18/20 (August 2001)

1980

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1980: Well, well, fancy finding this old friend here in Angers. I don’t buy Beaucastel any more, but I continue to enjoy vintages from my cellar, mostly from the 1990s though, so it is fun to look a little further back in time. This has a classic nose, with leather, spice and liquorice tinged with violets and a chalky edge suggesting advancing maturity. A touch of volatility which doesn’t detract seems quite appropriate, and there is a certain elegance here. Nevertheless, it has a good backbone and some substance, even if that oyster-shell maturity comes across on the palate as well as the nose. It’s hard not to like this one though, all complex yet fresh. Tasted with dinner at Le Relais. 17/20 (February 2012)