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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.