Wines of the Week: Château de Beaucastel & Domaine Brana

Château de Beaucastel 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape 96
Domaine Brana 2022 Irouleguy 92
by Ian D’Agata

Château de Beaucastel 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape                        96

One of the world’s most famous wine estates, Château de Beaucastel traces its roots back to the sixteenth century, when Pierre de Beaucastel bought a barn in Coudolet. In 1909, Pierre Tramier transferred ownership to his son-in law Pierre Perrin, followed at the helm by his son Jacques. The Perrin family has since led the estate from strength to strength and is now in its fifth generation running things. The estate makes a bevy of outstanding wines (I’ve written about the winery’s fantastic Roussanne Vielles Vignes before: See TerroirSense Wine Review, Wines of the Week: July 4, 2022), but the really major achievement is their classic Chateauneuf du Pape bottling, a paragon of balance and consistency, with one great wine after another, vintage after vintage. Quality-wise, there are fewer more dependable wines made anywhere in the world than this one.

The Château de Beaucastel 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape is an exceptionally good wine, one of the best wines the estate has made in the last thirty years. Medium-dark ruby-red colour. Deep-pitched, concentrated, still fairly unevolved aromas of dark plum, red cherry, violet, licorice and herbs, along with a whiff of smoky minerals and a building note of cracked black pepper.  Dense, smooth and penetrating in the mouth, with lovely floral energy and lift to the dark cherry, plum and spicy flavours. Closes with a firm tannic backbone and a sappy quality, boasting noteworthy flesh and power. Built to age, this twenty years old wine is still developing, and is a relative infant, with decades of life ahead of it. You can enjoy this now but, just be aware it can only still get better. Unlike what you might have read or heard, this is not at all like the estate’s 1995: the 2005 is a much more powerful and concentrated wine than that one, and in this light is in perfect keeping with the characteristics of the Rhone wines of the superb 2005 vintage. Drinking window: 2024-2045.

Domaine Brana 2022 Irouleguy                            92

One of the world’s best producers of distilled fruit spirits (a reasonable case can be made that their Poire Williams Eau de Vie knows no equal), Domaine Brana has also long represented the class act in Irouleguy wines. The winery makes a bevy of Irouleguy white, rosé and red wines, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. This 70/15/15 blend of Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu respectively spent nine months on the lees and is aged in stainless steel only. It is a lovely white wine that provides a wonderful introduction to the house’s white wines. At Brana they bottle four different Irouleguy white wines; I point out that one of them, the Herri Mina, is actually made with vines owned by Jean-Claude Berrouet, for over forty years the technical director and winemaker at JP Moueix (and hence the mind behind Petrus, Trotanoy, La Fleur-Petrus, Magdelaine and Dominus in California). The Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu grapes with which this latter wine is made grow on a red sandstone soil that differs from the argillite-rich (clay) soil where the same grapes grow used to make the Domaine Branba Iroulegiy. In other words, the Brana estate offers you a chance to taste between different expressions of Irouleguy wines.

Bright golden-tinged pale straw yellow. Intense aromas of white peach, lichi, white flowerts, and orange oil with an nuanced herbal undertone. The bright zippy flavours are similar to the aromas and persist nicely on the long, glyceral, tactile finish. This little gem hits all the right notes while supplying you with a symphony of perfumed aromas and flavours; it offers sneaky complexity and concentration for its relatively low cost per bottle. It’s just a delicious drink that besides making an outstanding aperitif wine, will also match heavenly well with goat and soft cheeses, every shellfish and lightly dressed fish dish you can think. Drinking window:  2024-2030.


Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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Ian D'Agata