Tasting a Range of Rhône Specialist Delas Frères’ Wines in London…

In 1835, Charles Audibert and Philippe Delas purchased the Maison Junique wine merchant in Tournon-sur-Rhône, which they renamed “Audibert et Delas”. In 1924, Henri and Florentin Delas took over the company which they renamed “Delas Frères”. They continued to develop the trading business and the family estate by purchasing a vineyard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and expanding the Hermitage vineyards in order to ensure consistent quality for their production.

In 2015, to celebrate Delas Frères’ 180th anniversary, the Deutz-Delas Group purchased a new property in the middle of Tain-l’Hermitage. Its showcase technical facilities will be used to vinify the highest quality appellations produced by Delas Frères.

I recently caught up with Export Manager Etienne Defosse to taste through a small selection of their classic Delas cuvees.

Delas Viognier Vin de Pays 2016, 13 Abv.

Vibrant cool and fresh, fine mineral balance, pithy white citrus and lovely elegance. Plenty of interest here.

(Wine Safari 87+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Cotes du Rhône Saint Esprit Blanc 2016, 14 Abv.

Grenache Blanc and Viognier blend, sweet blossom, peach and marmalade opulence. Hints of Turkish delight and pineapple pastille depth. Really delicious offering.

(Wine Safari 88+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Syrah Vin de Pays 2016, 12 Abv.

Sweet intense nose with piercing red plum, peppercorn spice, savoury meats and a supple, fleshy, overt finish with a kiss of wood smoke.

(Wine Safari 88/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Cotes du Rhône Saint Esprit Rouge 2016, 14 Abv.

Northern producer view with Syrah base with a touch of Grenache. Nose packed with black cherry, gun smoke, liquorice and graphite nuances. Wonderful sweet black cherry pastille, supple elegant soft tannins and a long , polished pure savoury bramble berry mineral finish.

(Wine Safari 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Domaine des Genets Vacqueyras 2015, 14 Abv.

Rich dark and broody, packs plenty of plummy, savoury, black peppery depth. Five spice, black cherry pithe and supple, dark brambly finish. Punchy but not rustic, plenty of focus and freshness with intensity.

(Wine Safari 90/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Haut Pierre 2015, 15 Abv.

Sweet tannery leather, grilled herbs and spices. Touch of dusty garrigue. Full, plush and elegant, wonderfully fleshy, never heavy, impressively polished tannins and a long, sweet brambly finish.

(Wine Safari 91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Crozes Hermitages Les Launes 2016, 13 Abv.

Deep, dark, peppery dusty crushed gravel and wood spice nose with hints of barbecue smoke. Broody, savoury black berry and garrigue spice with subtle cured meats and German deli savoury complexity on the finish. Classy.

(Wine Safari 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Domaines des Grands Chemins Crozes-Hermitage 2015, 14 Abv.

Intense, pithy, piquant nose with dark exotic peppercorn spice, black cherry, grey slate and barbecued meats. Dusty, very mineral with a saline edge, this has depth, length and graphite complexity with focused power.

(Wine Safari 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Saint Joseph Les Challeys 2016, 13 Abv.

Beautiful melange of soft black pastille fruits, perfume, violets and cherry blossom. But delicious red berry fruit opulence is never far away. Wonderful notes of cassis, and graphite follow to a deliciously pure palate with supple tannins, mineral spice and a fresh, vibrant elegance. Iron fist in the proverbial velvet glove. Wonderful Syrah class.

(Wine Safari 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Delas Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage 2015, 14 Abv.

Broody dark nose with massive complex array of perfumed aromatics. Layers of sweet cassis, salty liquorice, violets, black olive, and black cherry with wonderfully fresh, piercing concentration. A very noble wine, profound depth, delicious Syrah power and impressive intensity.

(Wine Safari 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Wonder of Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie – Tasting a Vertical from 2005 to 1976…

Les Jumelles means “the twins” in French and refers in this case to the special Cote Brune and Cote Blonde twin vineyards on the burnt slopes of Cote Rotie in the Northern Rhône. It is not a wine you see around very often and is far less well known than other Jaboulet icon wines like Hermitage La Chapelle. All the fruit is bought in for Les Jumelles and current production is around 1,500 cases.

Always a bit of an unknown entity quality wise year on year, final bottle results often depend on how much fruit Jaboulet was able to buy from specifically the high quality Cote Brune growers in a particular year. With this age worthy Cote Brune backbone, some of the best examples I’ve tasted previously have been older vintages, none better than the 1972 Les Jumelles enjoyed with Vinous’ Neal Martin at the 2 Star Michelin the Square Restaurant a few years ago (when still owned by Chef Phil Howard and restaurateur extraordinaire, Nigel Platts-Martin).

Nothing quite that old was tasted in this vertical, but never the less, it was a real treat to compare multiple mature vintages side by side. Several bottles were sadly considered ‘out of condition’, so were not scored (N/S).

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 2005

14 months of French oak aging, with only 20% new oak. Bright and fragrant, violets and cherry blossom lift. Very pretty nose. Hints of leather, black berry, bruleed spice, marzipan but also a real core of dark fruit. Still tight and structured with a real presence of power and focus. Touch angular still, very bright acidity and a medium long tart red fruited finish. Touch of bitter tannic grip but seems to hold good potential to cellar for another 10 to 15+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1999

Wonderfully classic nose of perfume and bruleed cherry spice, savoury cured meats, coffee beans and bloody, irony salinity. Palate shows hints of saddle leather, gun smoke, sour macerated plums with a bright refreshing red fruit acidity and excellent, crisp mouthwatering length. Tart and vibrant, still youthful and plenty of style.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1997 – Oxidised, out of condition bottle. N/S

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1988

Another classically shaped Cote Rotie with lifted herbal notes amplified by wood spice, saddle leather and wood smoke. Quite spicy and piquant, with cassis leaf, coffee bean and medicinal red fruit spice. The palate follows suit with herbal spice, savoury red and earthy black fruits but with a slightly challenging bitterness with chalky, grippy tannins and a finish laden with bitters and vermouth botanical spice complexity.

(Wine Safari Score: 90/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1985

Darker, deeper broody nose with hints of wet earth, cured meats, diesel rag, black bramble berries and subtle herbal garrigue and pot pourri spices. The palate is denser, broader and altogether fleshier than the 1988, with the herbal nuances more like footnotes than chapter headings. More balanced and harmonious, this still has dry mineral stony tannins but very impressive length. Not tiring, this can still be enjoyed for a decade or more.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1983

Complex from the start, the 83 shows alluring herbal complexity, rich notes of kirsch cherry, bramble berry and marzipan spice. Hints of diesel rag and savoury cured meats in a German deli. Plenty of pepper spice, sleek harmonious tannins, vermouth richness and exoticism. Not a massive wine, but it is ageing beautiful, with some leanness and austerity, so perhaps the fruit is starting to dry. I suspect this is a sleeper and won’t change terribly quickly, and will be even better with food. Enjoyable wine.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1982

Seductive, meaty, smokey wine with notes of gun flint, graphite, pot pourri and ground coffee beans. There is richness, ripeness and spicy brambley fruit but all very measured and classical. Definitely a riper feel, fine density of fruit and a lovely raisined cranberry and caramelised plum finish combining well with chalky tannins on a long finish. Very classy, and would probably be incrementally better if drunk with food. No rush but enjoy bottles now.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1980

Touch meaty and heading towards oxidation. Bottle considered out of condition. N/S

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1978

One of the noted great vintages of the Northern Rhone, this Cote Rotie shows big depth and breadth with definite tertiary notes of diesel rag, graphite, coffee bean, crushed gravel and pot pourri spices. The palate is plush and fleshy, shows glorious opulence, but fading a little and perhaps just starting to dry out. Piquant and bright, well balanced with a salty black fruited note and a saddle leather finish. Powerful and multi-layered. Delicious!

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Les Jumelles Cote Rotie 1976

The palate is perhaps more vital than the nose which shows saline, plastersine, black berry, iodine, bloody, irony, graphite notes. Very chalky and mineral, the palate holds great weight and intensity, balanced with savoury earthy red fruits, raisined cranberry and tart stewed plums. Mature, but grows in gravitas and really starts to outshine the 1978 with time in glass. A real gem.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)