I’ll Drink to That: Daniel Brunier of Vieux Télégraphe

Episode 357 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Daniel Brunier, a partner in the Vieux Télégraphe and Domaine la Roquète wineries in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Les Pallières in Gigondas, and Château Massaya in Lebanon.

Daniel Brunier began his career working at Vieux Télégraphe in 1981, but really this interview starts before that, with the 1978 that was the swan song vintage of his father Henri. It was a notably good year, and Daniel claims that it was the top release of the 1970s and 1980s at the domaine. In 1979 a new winery was built, and we learn in this discussion why: with his sons reaching adulthood, Henri had decided that Vieux Télégraphe would be a full-fledged winery in its own right, and no longer sell a large percentage of its grapes to the local négociant. Essentially, the entry of Daniel and his brother into the business was at the start of what we think of as Vieux Télégraphe today, at least in terms of the winery. The vineyard side had a much longer history, and that past is recounted extremely well in this episode. You definitely come out of this discussion with a much greater appreciation for La Crau as a specific site for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You may also arrive at a more favorable conclusion surrounding Grenache, a grape variety that is sometimes on the receiving end of some maligning. Not in this interview, where Daniel presents Grenache as an astute judge of terroir: plant it on a great terroir and you will receive a soul-stirring wine in return, but if instead, you plant it on a basic terroir, you will receive something that is simple and straightforward. Grenache, says Daniel, is also a great indicator of the qualities of a vintage. He ought to know, as he works extensively with Grenache both in various vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in Gigondas at Les Pallières. The differences he has found in the different crus is interesting, and his explanations are of the sort that you only devise after long work in the vineyards for multiple decades. Indeed this whole interview, like the 1978 vintage that Daniel has such regard for, is a real gift.

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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine