TN: 2001 Château de Beaucastel - Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape)

2001 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (12/18/2018)
– popped and poured, but first pour sat in glass 1 hour before initial approach –
– tasted non-blind over 2 days –

NOSE: smells advanced, like old Champagne; pretty tight on Day 1 and on Day 2; hint of sherry on Day 2.

BODY: tan-maize color of medium richness (which is not out of the ordinary for this wine); {forgot to note weight}

TASTE: seems completely dead on the palate; just some acid (medium-high), and that’s it. Day 2 did not differ from Day 1; this is either completely over the hill, or is smack dab in the middle of a closed/dumb phase. I will continue to Hold my last bottle, as there is no point in drinking this now, unless one merely wants the cellar space. As this drinks today, my gut impression score is probably in the low 70s.

Brian, sorry to read your note. I started my wine collection in the early 80s by buying a case of the 78 Beaucastel for $120. Also greatly enjoyed the 81, 83, 85 and a few others. [cheers.gif] Of course the price has risen over the years is now expensive, imo, and I think the wine has lost something (perhaps the addition of the Jacque Perrin cuvee took something from the regular bottling) along the way. [stirthepothal.gif] 2001 was suppose to be a great year???

Of note, this was the blanc, not the rouge. CdP’s — blanc and rouge, alike — are notorious for going through dumb phases; I am crossing my fingers and hoping that is what’s going on here.

I opened one of these on Christmas Day. It certainly wasn’t the exuberant bomb that it was 14 years ago but it also wasn’t anywhere near dead. Maybe you had an off bottle.

I hope so, Paul, but my experience seems tomorrow those of others on CT. In 5 years, or sooner if favorable CT reviews start rolling in, I’ll find out.

I’ve never been convinced of this argument that Beaucastel Blanc goes through a dumb/oxidized stage and then emerges. In my experience there are just bottles oxidizing at different rates, and some pretty early. Keep in mind that people were talking about this pattern with Beaucastel long before premox was widely understood to be “a thing.” If it had been the other way around, I suspect more people would just agree that Beaucastel has a premox issue.

1 Like

Opened a magnum yesterday and it was great with a Greek kreatopita: meat pie from lamb and pork with dill seasoning.

I’m going to give my last bottle a very good opportunity to make a believer out of me. All I have to lose by trying is one bottle’s worth of storage space and carrying costs while I wait for that opportunity to present itself. As for now, color me skeptical and wishful.

I’ve had good bottles of aged Beaucastel Blanc. It’s just that I have no reason to believe that individual bottles go through a phase where they would seem oxidized if opened, and later emerge as good examples of aged and not oxidized wine. I think this is an explanation that people invented to try to explain the variability they saw, and premox is a simpler explanation.

Of course the “oxidized phase” explanation is virtually untestable because you can’t open individual bottles at different stages of life. You would have to drink enough of the wine at all stages of life to know that older bottles consistently show better than middle-aged bottles. My own experience is limited but it certainly doesn’t support that. My experience is completely consistent with premox, though.

BTW, once the old vines Roussanne Cuvee was introduced the regular white must have taken a hit in quality and likely ability to age, so I’m not sure what our expectations should be for aging it. It may be that a 2001 is just too old. I had the whites from 1994-1996 and I don’t think I had any non-oxidized bottles of that age. I have a few left that I’m dreading opening.

No doubt the '01 could simply be too old at this point. I was just particularly struck by how incredibly dumb the wine seemed ---- veeeerrrrry little in the way of aromas or flavors.

I’ve had off bottles/experiences with Beaucastel. Usually it’s an almost stewed note that I get from time to time. I’ve probably tasted more of the 2001 than any vintage with Beaucastel starting around Thanksgiving in 2005. Initially I thought it was heat damage, but the corks looked fine and the bottles I opened (good & bad) all came from the same source. Your note reminds me of of those times my bottle was “off”.

“stewed note” in the blanc, Kirk?

How do you differentiate a ‘dead on the palate’ CdP blanc from a good one? I’ve never been able to.

[whistle.gif] [stirthepothal.gif] [berserker.gif]

You know that it’s not just Beaucastel but all Rhone whites are supposed to go through dumb phases. Either most Rhones go through dumb phases or most Rhones have had unrecognized premox issues. It seems to test this theory you would need a lot of bottles so you could taste a number of bottles side by side over a number of years. Then you could see if its bottle variation or phases. Plus we could throw in Larry’s screwtop Rhones as a control… [berserker.gif]


I had this wine in autumn, and it was excellent, not really in a perfect open stage, but impressive and really powerful, still with potential (if you like aged white Rhones)
I mistook it for a white Hermitage …

I should make the distinction between dumb and oxidized. When the wine smells like sherry, I believe it’s probably oxidized, and I doubt that bottle would have “emerged” from that state. I think this is what Brian described.

As you say, whites can shut down much as reds do, and they can be less expressive for years. I do believe they can emerge from that state. One other complicating factor is that Marsanne and Roussanne both have some aromas (like straw) that overlap with some characteristics of oxidation. Still, I think there is a pretty big difference between a closed/dumb CdP or Hermitage and an oxidized one, and my history with the regular Beaucastel Blanc is that a lot of bottles oxidize at different rates, very much like premox in White Burgundy.

Whoops…missed the blanc. Sorry.

1 Like

I think that’s right. Sometimes there is a sort of faux oxidation you get when you first open a bottle. I recall reading somewhere that there are some mercaptans that approximate that sensory impression. (I think Jasper Morris wrote about this in a piece on premox in Burgundy.) But that’s rare. The fact that Brian says it smelled of sherry on day 2 makes it pretty clear this was just going over the edge. (Brian - Did you refrigerate it?)

FYI, Jayson Cohen brought a '99 Beaucastel rouge to a tasting last week that he’d bought on release and stored properly and it was very oxidized – shot.

It was recorked and refrigerated between Day 1 and Day 2.