10 January 2010

A Burgundy in Rhone's Backyard

Andre Brunel's 2006 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape Tradition (14% abv) was certainly one of the most pure, honest and utterly quaffable CdP's I tasted in '09 (perhaps EVER!).

Garnet color with flashes of ripe raspberry red. The nose is inundated with complexity: Scorched earth, some burnt leaf notes (perhaps those two are one in the same--a certain smoky, mulled earth scent, but nevertheless baked in that southern France way), reglisse, what has to be sumptuously rich raspberry ganache, but perhaps is, in fact, white chocolate, not black; and the red fruits not so much red, but rather distinctly marzipan. There is a subtle barnyard funkiness here, but it's swirl-based (if that makes any sense at all). The more vigorous you swirl, the more pronounced the funk, which nevertheless fades expeditiously.

On the palate, there is an exemplary amount of inner mouth perfume; it both coats the palate and is effervescent simultaneously. This wine is what I presume 1er Cru Pinot Noir to be in the hands of a true master. Silky but distinct tannin gives context to this most graceful palate of black raspberry, cherry and blueberry fruit. For as graceful and pure as this wine is, air seems to turn it into an even more massive, chocolaty wine.

At about two hours open, the nose evolves into dried flowers, violet perhaps, camphor, graphite, and just a hint of vanilla (though I suspect not oak-related). The tannin is not engulfed by fruit, but rather absorbed by it. From the outset it seemed this wine would be about grace, and nothing else. Perhaps that is the signature of this place, the terroir of Les Cailloux, or just the fingerprint of an honest man, Andre Brunel. No matter; this is Burgundy in Rhone's backyard, and I'll be on that BuS any and every day.

And the price was unbeatable. 17 Euro.

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