Vieux Télégraphe is produced by the Brunier family, growers in Bédarrides, where they are a significant owner of Châteauneuf-du-Pape vignoble. The La Crau vineyard is carpeted with large galet stones, and its vines are among Brunier’s oldest. The blend is Grenache-heavy.
This particular bottle was cellared in a Vermont stone basement (viz., cold) for twenty years. The robe, remarkably, is garnet red rather than tawny brick, but the rim is orange fading to clear. It is limpid at first, but with a touch of sediment that builds as the bottle is drained, but the tartrate is finely particulate rather than coarse.
The wine has aromas of cedar, cherries, juniper berries, sous-bois; there is some some VA, on the lightly balsamic spectrum, which lifts it up. The body has fine, powdery tannins and a chewy midsection of dark fruits. The flavors are tawny, ripened by bottle age, something like blackberries steeped in tea. As it gets air the wine earns savoriness like soy sauce and nut, and curiously some toasty notes, almost caramel but not sweet. The acidity is profound and flames out at the finish like an orange fireball.
I poured it with a slow-braised pork belly rubbed with aromatics and spices alongside rich mashed waxy potatoes and bitter greens. My, it was all delicious.
1998 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau Châteauneuf-du-Pape
14% ABV | This vintage is currently available for $110; newer releases are about $60