Back Re-exploring the beauty of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Published on 19 July, 2023

By Louis Tsang, 19 Jul 2023

If there is an experience more exciting than discovering an interesting wine, it is the moment of re-exploring a wine that has once captured your heart. Recently I had this experience with Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which had been my favourite wine region for some years in the past. I still have vivid memories of the pleasure I received from tasting a Châteauneuf-du-Pape after drinking Bordeaux for days. The typically high concentration and intensity of fruit of the wine from this southern Rhône region deeply impressed me. All these fond moments soon became history after I got into the world of Burgundy. Having though the opportunity to taste several rare Châteauneuf-du-Pape recently, I am fortunate in having my passion for this wine region reignited.

Eric Rousseau from Domaine Armand Rousseau mentioned, in an interview, that his most memorable wine was a bottle of Château Rayas. It is no surprise once you have a great bottle from Rayas. Made from 100% Grenache, it is one of the few producers who opts for crafting a wine solely with this varietal instead of making a blend with it, as most other winemakers do. Both the 2003 and 2007 Rayas I drank recently had an excellent showing. They were ready and harmonious from the get-go and kept evolving over many hours. In vineyards neigbouring Chateau Rayas, Henri Bonneau is a tiny domaine which makes traditional Grenache-based wines. It is always a pleasure to taste his most coveted cuvée -Reserve des Celestins, which is only made in top vintages.

I simply cannot talk about my favourite Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines without mentioning both Château de Beaucastel and Domaine du Pégau. They both have produced several “100-pointers”, including the famed ‘Cuvée da Capo’ by Pégau. As of today that cuvée has only been produced in eight vintages, and half of those were scored 100 points by Robert Parker. This is a blockbuster made from a blend of over 90% Grenache, with enormous power and richness. 

And, let us not forget about the incredible, long-lived cuvée ‘Hommage à Jacques Perrin’ from Beaucastel, another frequent 100-pointer. 1989 was the first vintage in which it was produced, as a tribute to the late Jacques Perrin, father of Jean-Pierre and François, who passed away in 1978. It is made from an unusual blend, with a dominant base of Mourvedre (about 60%). The grapes are mostly from old vines and the wine is only made in top vintages, with a mere 400~500 cases produced when made at all. To give you a sense of the quality, style, and longevity of this cuvée, here is Jeb Dunnuck’s 2015 tasting note at for that inaugural vintage – 1989 – which we have in stock in both bottles and exceptionally rare magnums - 

The first vintage for this cuvee, the still inky colored 1989 Châteauneuf du Pape Hommage À Jacques Perrin is deeper, richer and more powerful than the 1990, yet slightly less evolved and exuberant. From a scorching hot and dry year, this incredible cuvee is massive on all counts, with classic dark fruits, roasted herbs, charred meats, melted licorice and truffle aromas and flavors, full-bodied richness, a dense, layered, multidimensional texture and a blockbuster finish that just wouldn’t quit. Like the 1990, there’s certainly some evolution here, and it’s a gorgeous drink today, but it should easily continue to evolve through 2030+. Drink 2014~2030, 100/100.