Famille Perrin

Young or old.

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When it comes to the wines of the Rhône Valley, there may be no name more recognized than Perrin. The true Southern Rhône family and consequential clan of Châteauneuf du Pape has weathered a century of winemaking.

It’s an impressive range that Perrin produces, from the affordable everyday La Vieille Ferme wines (a white, a rosé, a red), to the profusion of Côtes du Rhônes and appellation-specific vintages, to the more focused terroir selections; and at the crown of it all is the Châteauneuf du Pape: Château de Beaucastel.

Additionally, one cannot overlook the 2012 project the family took on with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt: Miraval. When the famous couple purchased the 500-hectare Château Miraval estate in Provence, they offered the Perrins a joint venture. Viticulture and winemaking is entirely controlled by the Perrin family, and last year a winery was erected on the estate. The three Miraval wines (the famous rosé and two whites) are now made there. During a recent visit to Vancouver, Thomas Perrin (one of seven from his generation currently running the family business) stressed that the Jolie-Pitt split doesn’t affect the Miraval project—it remains a family property.

“My great, great grandfather loved to vacation in Châteauneuf du Pape, and in 1909 bought Château de Beaucastel,” Perrin says, tracing the winery back to its origins. It being the era after phylloxera (a pest that decimated European vines in the late 1880s), the price was quite agreeable. From there, the wine business continued to improve, and in 1937 the appellation of origin of Châteauneuf du Pape was formed. The estate expanded to its current size of 130 hectares in the 1960s; each successive generation has helped the company grow.

Under the Beaucastel label, the age-worthy (20 years or more) 2015 Châteauneuf du Pape continues to be a rarity in the appellation, as it’s made from all 13 classic grape varieties allowable (six being white); it is earthy yet bright, with impressive complexity and posture. And Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2014 is a captivation of high-toned fruit, offering the structure and longevity of the pricier Châteauneuf du Pape. Perhaps most intriguing, the 2016 Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc is seductively weighted and suggests lanoline, pine, and honey on the nose with fleur de sel on the tongue. While less than 10 per cent of wines from this appellation are fairer-hued—despite half the approved varietals having that distinction—the blancs are truly memorable.

Referring to these special white wines, Perrin recommends: “Drink them young or old—before five years or after 15. They go through a sleep stage and oxidize, they go brown, and then they come back. I prefer the whites young, but that’s me.” The beauty of the personal cellar, of course, is that owners can decide for themselves.


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April 5, 2018