Southern Rhône rarely struggles with ripeness, but finding harmony in even the top cuvées of Chateauneuf can be challenging. That's why the 2020 vintage has been on my radar. If there's one characteristic that this vintage has endowed, it is balance and refinement. And, no domaine executed better than Kermit Lynch's iconic import, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. Situated in the far southeast of the appellation on the enviable high-elevation plateau known simply as "La Crau", the Brunier family began tending these vines in 1898. If there is a CdP Grand Cru terroir, this is it. Iconic and mesmerizing bottlings stretch back decades (see below) from the brothers Daniel and Frédéric.

The tell-tale signs of Brunier's CdP are always a red fruit dominant core with rose petals, inimitable garrigue, smoke, and a strong mineral presence that combines with the sturdy but rounded tannins to allow these to develop for decades. A bottle of 1988 that I opened earlier this year was a revelation, though expectations are always high when old bottles of VT with excellent provenance make their way to the table. 2020 is the most anticipated vintage for me since the 2016 release. 2020 is one of those vintages that has it all for the southern Rhône––finesse, concentration, palate-gripping intensity, and a fresh, crisp finish.

 

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