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Beaucastel's Hommage à Jacques Perrin: a vertical tasting  

Now one of the trophies of the wine world, Beaucastel's Hommage à Jacques Perrin was first made in 1989. It’s predominantly Mourvèdre, supplemented with Grenache (20%), Counoise (10%) and Syrah (10%). It is only made in the best years for Mourvèdre, and then only in small quantities (one foudre, 5000 litres). So far it has been made in 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

This was a rare chance to try a vertical of these wines, reaching back to the first vintage. If you want to try them yourself, you are looking at around £200 per bottle!

Hommage is a fascinating wine, not least because it seems to undergo a metamorphosis after a couple of years in bottle from being hedonistically sweet and fruit-dominated to becoming much more savoury, structured and intense. My previous experience with 2000 some 12 months earlier than this tasting yielded a tasting note rather different to the one you’ll see here.

On reviewing my scores, they seem a little ungenerous when compared with those of other critics. I’m scoring on how these wines tasted on the day I experienced them – that’s the only reasonable and fair thing to do as a critic. I suspect that Hommage is a wine that you can appreciate very young and be blown away by the sheery intensity of the fruit, or else it’s something you want to tuck away for a couple of decades to develop the complexity that comes with bottle age.

Château de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2001
Very ripe, sweet nose with lots of lush fruit, and an almost liqueur-like edge. Some herbal complexity, too. The palate is dense with lovely sweet fruit and also a chewy, savoury, herb-tinged core and persistent yet smooth tannins. A lovely complex wine that’s approachable at this stage. Very good/excellent 94/100

Château de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2000
Quite a serious herby, spicy nose with leathery, earthy notes typical of Mourvèdre. Quite savoury. The palate is firm, dense, spicy and savoury with a distinct earthy edge and firm tannins. A tiny bit austere at the moment, but lovely concentration. Very good/excellent 91/100

Château de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1999
Firm savoury, spicy nose – very intense, spicy and firm with leathery, earthy complexity. The palate is savoury, chewy and spicy with good complexity and dusty, dry tannins. Very firm. Very good/excellent 92/100

Château de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1995
Soft intense, herby, spicy nose showing some evolution with sweet herby notes. The palate is intensely savoury and spicy. It’s quite evolved with firm tannins and a pronounced herbal character. Very savoury – a thought-provoking wine. Very good/excellent 91/100

Château de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1989
Very evolved herby, savoury nose with notes of herbs, spice and caramel. There’s a slightly baked quality to the fruit. The palate displays lively  herby, savoury fruit with some leathery, earthy elements. Evolved, intensely savoury and drinking well now. Very good/excellent 90/100  

see also: Vertical of Beaucastel; Blending the Beaucastel 2003 components

wines tasted March 2004

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