Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieux Télégraphe 'La Crau' 2003
"The 2003 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape has turned out well. Deep ruby with some purple nuances, this wine is medium to full-bodied and reveals notes of liquorice, pepper, Asian spices, black cherry, raspberry, and currant, as well as a relatively big, sweet palate impression with moderate tannin in the finish. It is accessible, but will benefit from 2-3 years of aging."
Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe does indeed derive its name from an old telegraph station, one which was once sited on the hill where this Châteauneuf domaine now stands. The station was one of Claude Chappe's optical telegraph relay towers, erected in 1792, part of a system of such stations spanning the whole of France which utilised a semaphore system to relay information. Each station was equipped with two telescopes, pointing up and down the line, to view incoming messages. The French Government opted for replacement by an electric telegraph in 1846, despite some fears that such a communication system was more open to sabotage as a cable was easily cut, and thus the station at Châteauneuf has long since been demolished.
The Vieux Télégraphe vineyards are unusual in that they lie in a single block, on the La Crauplateau, today covering an area of 70 hectares. The ground is covered by the galets roules, the large rounded stones which originated in the Alps to the east, and were transported down to lower lands by the action of floodwaters. They are classically associated with the vineyards of Châteauneuf du Pape, although they can also be found in other areas across the south of France. Beneath these stones there is a more organic soil, up to 1.5 metres deep, a molasse deposited here during the Miocene era, and then deeper again there is a red clay. The vines average an impressive 50 years of age, with a significant proportion old enough to draw their pension at 65 years.