The wonderful Chateauneuf-du-Papes of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe have always been some of my favorite. The release of the glorious 1998 vintage corresponded to my first few months in the wine business. Tasting that wine, I was immersed into the wines of the Southern Rhone for the first time. I have been fans of Vieux Telegraphe ever since, so when the opportunity arose to host a vertical tasting of recent vintages at Walt Churchill's Market, I couldn't resist. The results were surprising and my tasting notes are after the picture.
Three bottles of each wine were opened for the tasting. They were given 2 hours of time to open. I tasted across all three bottles throughout the night, with consistent tasting notes. All wines sell for $89.99 each in Ohio.
Vieux Telegraphe 2008 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. "Sadly, this 2008 was one of the weakest tasting versions of VT that I've yet come across. It was prematurely old with very minimal tannins or acid. The fruit came off kind of stewed and it was very far into secondary flavors of leather, tobacco, vanilla, caramel, and dark smooth red fruits. Decent length to the finish, but this is wine that is peaking. It is unlikely that this wine will improve with time. It wasn't bad, but I always expect better from Vieux Telegraphe - and have never been disappointed until today." 88 points.
Vieux Telegraphe 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. "This is a sexy beast! Very luscious sexy Grenache fruit. Scrumptous pure hedonism, but kept in check by very well integrated acidity. One of the best young VTs that I've ever tasted. After 2 hours open, firm powerful tannins emerge from the fruit and give me great hopes for the longevity of this wine. If you are looking for a Chateauneuf-du-Pape to drink tonight and also in a decade, this is your choice." 96 points.
Vieux Telegraphe 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. "One of the best Young Chateaneufs I've ever tasted! This has all of the amazingly sexy fruit of the 2009, but elevates to another level with strong serious framing tannins. Red fruits dominate with serious purity and black fruits slide in to add complexity. This is a beautiful long-lasting wine. This is a wine that received serious accolades from the wine press ... and deserved them all. It reminds me of the 1998." 98 points.
Vieux Telegraphe 2011 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. "Young and aggressive. Probably a lot of Syrah and Mourvedre because I tasted smoked meat, white pepper, hard black plum, some garrigue. All that was spices in a pure hard Grenache red-fruit. Not very sophisticated for VT, but solid wine. This something that I would have to revisit in a few years. This could bloom into a wonder, or it could collapse. Not sure." 91 points.
There is a saying in wine circles that great wineries can make great wine even in the off-vintages. I've said that myself and believed it to be true. However, this tasting challenged that idea because there was such significant separation between the great vintages of 2009-2010 and the mediocre vintages of 2008-2011. Even for a great producer like Vieux Telegraphe.
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