Early on a Saturday morning, the gracious and reflective Daniel Brunier received me at his family's historic estate to taste through a cross section of the wines that Famille Brunier is now producing. In addition to the wines of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe (VT), the group includes wines from Le Pigeoulet, Mégaphone in Ventoux, Domaine Les Pallières in Gigondas and Clos La Roquète in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Brunier took the time during my brief visit to carefully explain why he doesn't like to call the 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape Télégramme a "second wine." This wine now includes much of the red plantings from Clos La Roquète, so maybe he has a point. But it also includes the young-vine material from VT plots, and it's clearly not of the caliber of the main VT bottling, so draw your own conclusions. The family philosophy is to avoid selected yeasts and bacteria for malolactic fermentation, allowing the naturally occurring bugs to do their work. Proportions of stems/whole clusters varies considerably, depending on the wine, as does the élevage, although most of the wines mature in foudres. While the greatness of 2016 goes unquestioned here, Brunier called 2017, "At minimum, a very, very good vintage. We were surprised it's so fresh and balanced." Yields were down by about 50% from the previous year. The emphasis here is on elegance and complexity. "Grenache is fantastic when it's not fruity. It's easy to do extraction and big wines. It takes humbleness to do less, a confidence in the land," Brunier said. More controversially, he concluded, "Extraction has been invented to replace terroir."
Clos La Roquète blanc 2017 (92-94)
Les Racines rouge 2017 (93-95)
Terrasse du Diable rouge 2017 (91-94)
Terrasse du Diable rouge 2016 (92-94)
Vieux Télégraphe blanc 2017 (93-95)
Vieux Télégraphe blanc 2016 94
Vieux Télégraphe rouge 2017 (93-95)
Vieux Télégraphe rouge 2016 96
Piedlong rouge 2017 (93-95)
Piedlong rouge 2016 (94-96)
Télégramme rouge 2017 (90-92)
Télégramme rouge 2016 91
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