One cannot think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most celebrated cru of the Southern Rhône, without thinking of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. The Brunier family is legendary in its own right, having been rooted to the enigmatic plateau known as “La Crau” for over one hundred years. The wines of Vieux Télégraphe evoke the concept of terroir in its purest form: they reflect their dramatic climate, the rough terrain that defines the soil, their full sun exposure at a higher altitude, the typicity of the varietals with an emphasis on Grenache, and of course, the influence of their caretakers, the Brunier family. For many, La Crau is Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s grandest cru.
The Bruniers’ story begins in 1898 with Hippolyte Brunier. A modest farmer who lived off the land, Hippolyte kept less than a hectare of vines to make his own wines. His small vineyard was at one of the highest points in between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Bédarrides, a stony plateau called “La Crau”. The elevation of this terrain had prompted the construction of a communication tower in the late 18th century to transmit telegraph messages between Marseilles and Paris. Otherwise, the allure of this barren landscape is not immediately discernable—there is nothing but galets roulés, or rounded stones, as far as the eye can see. Up so high, the vineyards are exposed to all kinds of elements—rain, hail, scorching sunshine, and especially the unruly Mistral. This was unwelcome terrain where only the toughest vigneron dare plant, although the notorious mistral works wonderfully to prevent rot.
The Brunier Brothers have expanded the family’s holdings significantly to seventy hectares, and have boldly expanded their winemaking ventures into new territory. They have created the second label for Vieux Télégraphe known as Télégramme (formerly known as Vieux Mas des Papes), they purchased Domaine La Roquète in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and they joined forces with Kermit Lynch to buy the historic Domaine Les Pallières in Gigondas (which had been in the Roux family for over five hundred years!).
Only four wines are produced at the Vieux Telegraphe winery – the red and white Vieux Telegraphe, made from the oldest vines on the estate; and the red and white from Le Telegramme, their second wine in Chateauneuf du Pape.
The Brunier brothers also own a winery situated 5km from Vieux Telegraphe called La Roquete which they purchased in 1986 and have been making fantastic, terroir driven wines from this estate.
Rarely does the company create a new label from their wineries but 2011 saw the newest label come into fruition – the Megaphone, an AOC Ventoux made from Grenache and Syrah on the Domaine La Roquete estate. The 2010 vintage will be its first.