One cannot think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most celebrated cru of the southern Rhône, without thinking of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. The Brunier family is legendary in its own right, having been rooted to the enigmatic plateau known as La Crau for over one hundred years. The wines of Vieux Télégraphe evoke the concept of terroir in its purest form: they reflect their dramatic climate, the rough terrain that defines the soil, their full sun exposure at a higher altitude, the typicity of the varietals with an emphasis on Grenache, and of course, the influence of their caretakers, the Brunier family. For many, La Crau is Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s grandest cru.
The Bruniers’ story begins in 1898 with Hippolyte Brunier. A modest farmer who lived off the land, Hippolyte kept less than a hectare of vines to make his own wines. His small vineyard was at one of the highest points in between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Bédarrides, a stony plateau called La Crau. The elevation of this terrain had prompted the construction of a communication tower in the late 18th century to transmit telegraph messages between Marseille and Paris.
The wines of V.T. are classic, displaying strength, rusticity, earthiness, and tremendous longevity. The final assemblage consists solely of old-vine fruit from La Crau, imparting incredible depth, concentration, and a filtered-through-stones minerality that provides excellent freshness. The greatness of the domaine is just as much a tribute to the Bruniers as it is to La Crau—they have the ability to make great wine even in difficult vintages.
The grapes from the younger vines—still over twenty years old—make up V.T.’s second label, “Télégramme.” The concept was born after the ill-fated 2002 vintage, when flooding around harvest led the Bruniers to downgrade “La Crau” due to the torrid conditions. The resulting wine, dubbed “Télégramme,” saw significant success, prompting Daniel and Frédéric to produce the cuvée yearly from fruit they deem not worthy of the “La Crau” label. The elegance and velvety texture make “Télégramme” easy to appreciate in its youth, with rich, generous, red fruit, uncharacteristic freshness, and beautifully integrated tannins. Its finesse and drinkability make it theChâteauneuf-du-Pape for restaurant lists and for wine lovers who do not have a cellar for aging.