Continuing on my Rhône theme, a few impressions on the wines of Paul Jaboulet Aîné. This large négociant house is one of the classic producers in the Rhône; their Hermitage La Chapelle one of the world’s legendary wine. After a period of underwhelming performance Jaboulet has been given a new lease of life under the ownership of the Frey family (also owner of Château La Lagune in Haut-Médoc).
Actually I’m really excited by the progress made here under the Freys. Tasting through a dozen wines yesterday at a large public event, I found the wines well-made, authentic, balanced, supremely drinkable, and just delicious. It’s especially true of the more affordable wines here. And made even more striking by the fact most were from the 2008 vintage, a difficult one in the Rhône. The Côtes du Rhône ‘Parallèle 45’ 2008 – a big seller in French and foreign supermarkets – used to be bland commercial stuff and now is brimming with intense raspberry and plummy fruit and overdelivers for 8€. The Beaumes-de-Venise Le Paradou 2008 adds some extra concentration and layers of Grenache fruit; it’s really a pretty dense and deep wine for what it is. The Vacqueyras Pierre Aiguille 2008 is spicier, meatier and chunkier as Vacqueyras should be, while the Gigondas Pierre Aiguille 2007 is in a sweeter Grenache style and goes down very well.
Even more impressive were the Syrah-based wines from the Northern Rhône – and in my experience it’s really not easy to find a good Syrah in 2008. The Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2006 often comes across as a small brother of La Chapelle, and this vintage has the guts to age well but should wait another 2 or 3 years to digest its oak. Meanwhile I found the Crozes Les Jalets 2008 absolutely delightful. It’s a balanced, juicy, refreshing, civilised take on Syrah – zero jamminess to it, probably lovely with food but enjoyable without. A really exciting showing for the Jaboulet range.
These wines were tasted at a paid public tasting where I was provided free entry as a journalist.