A Tale of Two Perrins
Occasionally our line of work requires breaking out a pad and pencil and puzzling over winery family trees as old and sprawling as their century-old vines. Take the name Perrin in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which carries roughly the same cache in Southern Rhône as Rockefeller does in New York City. In 1909 a man named Pierre Tramier transferred an estate known as Château de Beaucastel to his son-in-law, Pierre Perrin. Pierre would pass the wine business to his son Jacques Perrin, who managed it with his wife. Today Jacques Perrin’s sons, Jean-Pierre and François, run Château de Beaucastel, a name well-known to nearly every serious wine collector in the world as perhaps the greatest producer of the region, with FIVE 100-point scores from Robert Parker under its belt.
But there is another family estate in Châteauneuf-du-Pape that bears the Perrin name — unrelated to Beaucastel, but its equal as an august French house with a historic heritage. Domaine Roger Perrin has been quietly toiling for nearly the same length of time, boasts a similarly proud genealogy, and in our humble opinion qualifies as the ULTIMATE sleeper hit of the region. There, too, a closely held chain of succession has kept the business in family hands for decades, passed from father-in-law to Roger Perrin to his son Luc (who trained at Beaucastel) to his sister Véronique to her son, Xavier.
Today Domaine Roger Perrin is fully run by Xavier, a fifth-generation vintner who has worked in the cellars since he was a child, later cutting his teeth in Beaujolais and Saint-Émilion. In this part of France, you respect your elders: mère and grand-mère Perrin still taste wines with the enterprising, talented young enologist.
Those deeply instilled family values have paid off: Robert Parker has raved about Domaine Roger Perrin as “a consistently excellent estate,” churning out inky, sumptuous Châteauneuf-du-Papes that recall the silky richness of Grand Cru Burgundies at mind-bogglingly reasonable prices.
With a 91-93 score from Vinous and decades of honed expertise behind it, you might call the 2014 Roger Perrin Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Les Galets de la Berthaude” one the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape deals of the CENTURY.
Drawn from vines — an average of 60 years old, with some old as 100 — that spider through the 70+ Perrin parcels, “Les Galets de la Berthaude” is a massive, plump blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, plus a 5% smattering of Cinsault, Clairette, Counoise, and Vaccarèse. Each bunch is harvested by hand. Above the clay and limestone subsoil rests the classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape galets roulés, cobblestones that help to regulate temperature in the vines.
2014 offered a classical, excellent perspective on the appellation, with a long growing season shining a spotlight on deeply concentrated, old-vine Grenache. Following a mild winter and a warm, dry spring, summer temperatures cooled and the sky dumped rain. Teams at Roger Perrin took to the vines with a vengeance, dropping fruit aggressively. The harvest lasted from mid-September to October, giving grapes time to reach full maturity on the vine, resulting in opulent textures and rolling, soft tannins.
The 2014 Roger Perrin Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Les Galets de la Berthaude” is a stunner. Ruby red to the rim, infused with luscious aromas of raspberry, black cherry, sweet spice, and lavender. Gorgeous and beautifully polished on the attack, silken in texture, the core is rich and marvelously concentrated, packed with red-fruit preserves and wild cherry, finishing bright, vibrant, and penetrating.
You can wait months to throw down $300 a bottle when we eke out the next small allocation of Château de Beaucastel from our tight-fisted sourcer. But today, Châteauneuf-du-Pape enthusiasts won’t hesitate a second to hit buy on the other Perrin — a STEAL today at $27. Our apologies in advance: Only 840 bottles are up for grabs.