From Sweddish Journalist, Tom Pavan. Find all his articles on his blog
The day before BraVins Assortment tasting, they arranged a tasting with Fabrice Brunel from Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel). Fabrice, son of André Brunel, turned out to be a really charming guy with a lot to tell.
As a small appetizer meanwhile, Fabrice presented the yard and history of Les Cailloux, we tried 2011 Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Sommelongue. Sommelongue is located north of Orange where Brunel owns 10 hectares. The yield is 35 hl/ha and production is made without chemical additives. After malolactic fermentation the wine is left in enamelled tanks for approx 1 year. It is a Grenache bomb in the nose with very red fruits and licorice. Good structure with good balance between acidity and fruit.
Then it was time for 4 vintages of their Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 2012 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape felt not quite finished with a green stick in the fragrance. Although the taste was mildly restrained. Hard to get real feel for the wine. Doubts whether it measures up.
2011 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape, however, is completely open to be drunk now. More depth with predominantly Grenache notes and a sweet fragrance that comes after a while. Quite a long finish. Better than 2012, but not worth saving, it seems to be in a rush into middle age.
I have drunk some 2010 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the past and they keep a steady level. They just gets better with each passing year and 2010 has still a lot of years left before it peaks. Very nice fragrance with warm herbs, red berries, leather and autumn. The taste is full, round with the same elements as the smell. Far slightly peppery finish. Really good!
The oldest of the bunch, 2007 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape, did not want to be worse. Good maturity with natural elements, caramel, nougat, leather and tobacco. Very, very good! Wish I had a bunch of lying at home.
The grapes for Cuvée Centenaire comes from some of the oldest logs in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, some with age up to 120 years. This wine is only made the year the grapes are considered to hold the stringent requirements for quality and since 1998 takes place also no filtration.
It's the little differences that make certain wines end up in the top layer. For 2010 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Centenaire's case, it does not smell that decides. It's the taste, volume, depth and finish that makes it. In comparison to the usual Les Cailloux 2010 then this in a completely different league. Fruity, metallic, raw. It is verging on a misconduct pulling the cork of such a bottle today. Save and you will be rewarded.
For the three years older 2007 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Centenaire is an entirely different matter. With a well-marked dawning maturity that bloom up after a while and its velvety body is the evening's wine. Rocky, dusty, herbs, pepper are just some of the impressions that I pick out. Neat, complex and challenging. The aftertaste continues into the next month. There was so much more to discover, pity that time was short.
Unfortunately the tasting finished of, in my opinion, a bad wine. The bottle of the 2003 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Centenaire as Bravin got hold of can not have been in the best condition, a pity. Brown with much deposits and despite his age, thin edge. It feels like it has been heated due to storing in a warm wardrobe. Sherry is what I come to mind, the sugar is next on the outside. Fabrice mentions that it is according to what he had expected, something I found odd. Nah, I dip down your nose quickly in the newer vintages to to gone to (sold on) the wine again.
A big thanks to BraVin for an extremely rewarding tasting!