Last year IWFS London Branch held an five-star fine Châteauneuf du Pape wine tasting. However, we couldn’t taste all the top wines, and Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe was not among them, although we did have a wine dinner featuring this domaine.
Fortunately for us, we had one bottle of the great 2001 vintage left. We had no excuse for opening it, we just wanted to, and it was a treat.
The blend is 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, and 15% of the other permitted grapes.
The wine was mature and ready to drink. Aromas were of earthiness, plums, blackcurrant and hints of liquorice, and it tasted gorgeous: refined, concentrated sweet and spicy berry fruit. The finish was rich and long.
The Brunier family has run Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe for six generations, since the end of the nineteenth century. The vineyards are situated on a hill in an outstanding location. The vines are planted on soil under which is impenetrable red clay, and above which is a layer of large round pebbles providing insulation and drainage. This terroir confers a particular minerality. The microclimate and exposure to the sun enable the vines to ripen for the harvest to begin a week in advance of other vineyards in the area. The vines are old; the average age in 2001 was about forty years.
As one of the highest points around, the hill was a suitable place for an optical telegraph tower, which was constructed there in the early nineteenth century by its inventor, Claude Chappe. It was one of a system of stations for transmitting telegraph messages between Marseille and Paris by means of semaphore signals communicated by operators at the top of the towers, who watched neighbouring towers through telescopes. The Domaine was named after this tower – the Vieux Télégraphe.
© Rachel Burnett