Jean-Luc Jamet Raising the White Flag -Tasting His Couzou Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2016…

I have been following the resurgence of Jean-Luc Jamet with great interest over the past 2 or 3 vintages. Afterall, the Côte-Rôties of the greater Jamet family have long been regarded as the benchmark wines of the region within the Northern Rhone. In 2013, brothers Jean-Luc and Jean-Paul announced that they would be splitting up the family’s domaine.

For many years, Jean-Paul was the face of the domaine and Jean-Luc was the steady hand in the vineyards. Jean-Luc has now stepped out of the proverbial shadows and returned to the fine wine arena with a resounding winemaking bang. His Les Terrasses Cote Rotie 2015 is a sensational expression and his basic Vin de Pays La Valine Syrah 2014 also an absolute beauty and better than most producers top Cotes du Rhone reds.

Jean-Luc also makes some fabulous mineral whites and among my first introductions was drinking a bottle of his Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2013 with Jamie Goode, the renowned wine journalist. I remember him commenting on not only it’s seriously stony, austere minerality but also it’s almost Chablis-like freshness and restraint. Having just tasted my first ever Jean-Paul & Corinne Jamet Cotes du Rhone Blanc recently, I was keen to put this Jean-Luc Jamet 2016 white through its paces to compare and contrast.

Jean-Luc Jamet Couzou Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2016, 14 Abv.

A blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier grapes from vines grown on Granitic Argileux soils. The wine has a beautifully rich straw yellow colour while the aromatics of this cuvee are more restrained and tantalisingly austere with intense notes of cut lemon, stony gravel, wet stones, chalk tuffa and subtle petrichor notes. The well integrated struck match reduction notes connect the nose intricately to the palate which is build around intense mineral laden complexity, white peach stone fruits, ginger spice and a sappy tangerine peel pith. An intense, complex, sophisticated white Rhone expression with well judged acidity freshness, salinity and incredibly well managed reductive complexity. You can enjoy this now but it will undoubtedly get better with another year or two of ageing. A cracking white for Jamet junkies.

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

Jean-Luc Jamet Re-Establishing His Own Brand of Greatness in the Northern Rhône Valley…

Many Cotes du Rhône reds are produced from the blended cast off components of bigger appellation cuvees. For Jean Luc Jamet, now working exclusively under his own name since 2013, his L’Enclave 2016 is produced from 1 hectare of pure young Cote Rotie Syrah vines grown on clay and schist soils in the Le Champon and Bonnivières terroirs and delivers an impressive level of quality as you’d expect.

Jean-Luc Jamet Cotes du Rhône L’Enclave 2016, 13 Abv.

The aromatics of this sexy red are exotic and seductive, loaded with sweet caramelised black cherries, a kirsch liquor lift, sun dried cranberries, loganberries and subtle complexing notes of blood and graphite. The wonderful fragrant aromatics are complemented by vibrant, tart sour plum notes, hints of savoury cured meats, iron fillings and a smokey, crushed rock mineral finish. There is a suggestion of sappy resinous spice on the sleek finish which admittedly lacks the extra power and depth associated with some older vine cuvees. But this wine does show admirable terroir pedigree, intelligent winemaking and delicious varietal typicity from this more elegant, soft spoken vintage of 2016. Drink now and over the next 5 to 8+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

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)

Reviewing a Cask Sample of Domaine Les Cailloux Cuvee Centenaire 2015 with Fabrice Brunel…

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to catch up with the amiable Fabrice Brunel of Domaine Les Cailloux in Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone, to taste his new vintages. The CNDP Cuvee Centenaire 2015 cask sample I tasted was a beautiful, picturesque, snapshot into the final cuvee due to be released in about 12 months time at the end of 2017. The 2015 vintage will of course be the most hotly anticipated release from this domaine since the 97 point 1998 and possibly even since the 100 point 1990!

Pure Grenache barrel sample

The sample I tasted was the pure 100% Grenache version, but as Fabrice confirmed… “we will add one barrique of Syrah to enhance the complexity of the wine on the finish and to enhance it’s ageing capacity.” The domaine will release about 3,000 bottles, of which only around 250 bottles will be allocated to the UK market. So expect a bit of a gold rush on this wine.

Fabrice Brunel

Tasting Note: Domaine Les Cailloux Cuvee Centenaire 2015 (Grenache Barrel Sample Feb 2017) ~ This rich, decadent Grenache is made from vines planted in 1889, and is due to be aged up to 24 months in 500L oak casks. It has soft, lush, lifted exotic aromatics of ripe quince confit, sweet black peppercorns, raisined cranberries and red caramelized plums. The palate is full and fresh with a powerful, tight knit texture of pithy black cherries, graphite, crushed gravel and hints of hedgerow spice. The tannins are dense and gravelly and add beautiful structure and frame to the wine. Plenty of power, even a touch four-square at the moment, but there is also linear, compact purity too. While still a touch broody in its barrel sample format, there is more than enough to confirm the true greatness and potential that lies in store. Definitely going to be one for the cellar that will require aging.

(Wine Safari Score: 96-98+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Domaines Les Cailloux’s main estate wine

Tasting Vignoble Jean-Luc Jamet Cotes-du-Rhone Hautes Vignes 2014…

Jamet is a name synonymous with Cote Rotie. Many Rhone collectors and connoisseurs have treasured bottles from the brothers Jean-Luc and Jean-Paul Jamet in their cellars. 

Meeting with wine suppliers last year, heads hung heavily with the news that Domaine Jamet had announced a change in the direction of the estate with the brothers going their own separate ways in Cote Rotie. Jean-Luc Jamet would be creating his own domaine using fruit from the families vines in the Lancement lieux-dit. Jean-Paul Jamet would be remaining with the property and would, with wife Corinne, continue making the “Domaine” wines from 7 hectares of vines comprising 17 lieux-dits in 25 parcels scattered all over Cote Rotie.

The 2012 and 2013 Cote Brune wines were already labeled Domaine de Jean-Paul & Corinne Jamet Cote Rotie Cote Brune, taking this portion of the estate into a new era.

Jean-Luc Jamet had by now, created his own wines with my own personal experiences starting with his 2013 Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc and his 2014 Cotes-du-Rhone Red. As yet, I have not tasted any Jean-Luc Jamet Cote Rotie reds.

Vignoble Jean-Luc Jamet Cotes-du-Rhone Hautes Vignes 2014, 12.5 Abv. 

Tasting Note: Beautifully seductive ruby plum colour. From the outset, there’s a defined salty blackcurrant, cassis reduction, and liquorice intensity to the nose with hints of sweet red apple and purple earthy beetroot. Still massively youthful, the palate shows a pedigree not akin to your average Cotes-du-Rhone wine quality. There are layers of plum confit, sweet tart black cherry, caramelised blueberries and picante peppercorn spice with raw meat nuances. A taught, linear and vital, saline finish suggests that ageing this “modest” wine for another 8 to 10 years might yield something very special indeed. (Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

For all the Rhone snobbery out there, all the wines I’ve tasted from Jean-Luc have been intense, precise, fresh, characterful Rhone expressions… and eminently affordable. Don’t fall for the detracting chatter, these wines are every bit as smart as Jean-Paul’s releases. 

Fine Wine Friday… Bon Voyage old boy…

Today saw a special lunch at the 1 star Michelin restaurant The Glasshouse in Kew, marking the departure of fine wine neighbour and close friend Keith Prothero to warmer climes until Spring 2017. 

Head Sommelier Arno and his crew organised an exceptional afternoon of fine food and the most professional wine service… just as well, seeing as there were some pretty serious wines being poured. 

Making up the numbers were among others, my buddy, The Wine Anorak, Dr Jamie Goode, rugger bugger David Beresford, and fine wine high flyer, Air Commodore Stephen Parkinson Rt.

Wines were tasted sighted today and matched to food selected by The Glasshouse team before hand. As usual, they arranged an expertly chosen selection. 

As always, I labour the point, that fine wine is all about tasting, drinking and enjoying with fine cuisine and fine wine friends. The great wines, while being expensive and perhaps exclusive, where nevertheless made to be drunk and enjoyed in good company. So we obliged.

Today’s “modest” palate cleanser was a JJPrum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2001. Beautiful nose of sweet honey, crunchy white peaches, and sweet & sour lemon cordial. The palate was so rich, harmonious and balanced while simultaneously being tantalisingly fresh and vibrant, with the prettiest of acid structures. A profound example indeed. (97+/100)

Next up a flight of white Burgundies made up of a taught, tight, steely, tightly wound Domaine Leflaive Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet 2012 (96/100); a Domaine Dujac Morey St Denis 1er Cru Monts Luisants Blanc 2011 with a tight, fresh zesty, briney, mineral laden, sea breeze infused palate (95/100); and finally a Jean Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc 1998, resplendent in all its salty, oxidative, flor-style, aldehydic green apple and pear purée splendour. Not a wine for amateurs! (93+/100)

Then on to the reds, starting with an “off vintage” La Mission Haut Brion 1981 Graves, showing taught fresh saline, salty cassis, red currant berry fruit, bitter orange and spicy tobacco and lead pencils. Wonderfully linear and lean with a hint of brett. (93+/100)

This was followed beautifully by the full, fleshy, plump, sappy, spicy Chateau Latour 1978 from Pauillac. Ultra traditional, cooler old style spicy vintage but showing exceptional balance and burnt orange fruit length. (95/100)

Last of the Bordeaux trio was a profoundly youthful Chateau Pichon Baron 1976, that teased the palate with its tight, youthfully textured forest fruits, polished mahogany, and cool, burnt sugar and molasses, licorice and salty plum nuances that develop and build in the glass. (94/100)

A fine Bordeaux trio but now it was time for some Rhone style reds. First up, what turned out to be possibly one of the wines of the lunch… Domaine de Trevallon 1990 Rouge from the Bouches du Rhone. 50/50 Cab – Shiraz, this epic wine was bursting with salty cassis, licorice, cedar spice and a vibrant black peppercorn finish. Beautifully youthful, reinforcing this wines iconic reputation. (96/100)

From one icon to a unicorn Northern Rhone red, Noel Verset Cornas 1999. Packed full of perfume and lipstick lift, dried roses, sweet cherry, and savoury depth. Fruits are beautifully pure, textured and sappy with an alluring spicy stalky finish. An epic, memorable wine. (95+/100)

After two icons, the Gros Nore Bandol 2000 had a stiff act to follow. But to everyone’s surprise, except perhaps to Jamie Goode who brought it, the wine was  impressively dense, dark, savoury, sweet fruited and plush, with peppercorn spice, licorice, black berry nuances and a very youthful fine grained tannin frame. A real surprise package. (93+/100)

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I had a bottle of Mullineux Olerasay Solera Straw wine about a week ago. It was profound then and was profound today (98/100). But if there was ever any doubt, today we had the 2009 Mullineux vintage straw wine to compare and contrast. An amazing exercise with the 09 showing sweet caramelised yellow fruits, an incredible intensity, opulence and a deep, dense suave caramelised fig finish. (97/100)

Roast cuttle fish linguine
Roast partridge
Cornbury estate fallow deer
Apple and pecan brioche

So with these fine wines still resonating across our palates, we bid Keith farewell… until we meet again in the Spring over yet more fine wine.