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)

Another Sensational Run of Boutique Wines from Carsten Migliarina – Tasting His Impressive New Releases…

I recently caught up with winemaker Carsten Migliarina to taste through his new releases. Always working on a variety of different wines that usually includes a Grenache and a Syrah, Carsten also normally has at least one new one-off boutique experimental bottling on the go at any time. One year it may be a dry Riesling, this year it’s a fabulous Pinot Gris. Most impressively, the quality across the board is of such a high standard that when Carsten talks about tweaking a wine to improve it, it means no more than freshening up the label!

But sommelier turned winemaker Carsten also manages to consistently capture and bottle such impressive varietal purity and typicity that I can only put this down to his hidden Germanic subconscious that unrelentingly demands absolute precision without loosing any excitement, character or drinkability. Cartsten’s newest releases once again follow this characterisation and are definitely worth tracking down on release as almost 70% of his wines are exported globally.

Pinot Gris 2017 Grey Matters, WO Stellenbosch, 13.9 Abv.

50% Barrel fermented – wild, 50% Tank – wild and inoculated. Just 2,500 bottles. Cool, vibrant, super fresh style. Loaded with crystalline white peach, green apple and cream soda but with extra complex spicy pithy aromatics from 30 mins skin contact in the rolling press. There is very little tooty fruity frivolity but more mineral lemon and lime intensity and incredibly fine purity. Great balance and impressive intensity, this is a fabulous expression of this rare variety in SA!

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

Chenin Blanc 2017, WO Stellenbosch, 13.1 Abv.

Just 2,500 bottles produced. Roughly 35 year old vines from a single vineyard, 100% barrel fermented with older shaven oak. Wild yeast ferment. An intense nose with lemon biscuit, vanilla pod spice and dusty yellow apples, aniseed and pineapple confit. Beautifully textured, massive concentration of apple pastille, pink musk, white peach, dusty talc minerality and exotic quince and yellow citrus depth. A classic cool style signature Migliarina wine that when you open it, it’s hard to stop until the bottle is finished. This is very special and very impressive.

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

Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2016, 13.5 Abv. WO Elgin

2,500 bottles produced. Barrel fermented, 35% new oak from France, Romania, Hungary and USA. A beautifully sleek fine Chardonnay with great breadth and depth and superb complexity. Nose is multi-dimensional with creamy vanilla pod, lemon biscuits, creme brûlée and toffee able with 14 months in oak with no malo. Expert oak interaction, beautiful acidity and chalky minerality that doesn’t seek to be bludgeoned to death with oak. This Elgin fruit screams cooler climate, minerality, subtlety with no fining and no filtration. Lovely lime cordial tension, linearity and a long, harmonious, classical finish. A supremely distinguished effort.

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

Grenache 2017, WO Wellington, 13.5 Abv.

100% Varietal Grenache, single vineyard aged 7 months in shaven oak, untoasted. Inoculated, whole berry, destemmed, cold fermented (max 13 to 20 deg) taking 3 weeks to finish fermentation. Incredibly pretty wine with fragrant raspberry, strawberry, red cherry perfume notes with an almost Cinsault-like Turkish delight, marzipan, parma violets and blood orange lift. Carsten’s mantra is not to “spoil” the wine with too much savoury sappy spice and oak, hence no whole bunch and the obsessive focus on purity, precision and perfume. The saline, cassis, oyster shell notes are incredible. A profound expression.

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

Parquet 2016 Syrah – Carignan – Grenache, 13.5 Abv.

84% Syrah, 7% Carignan, 9% Grenache. Syrah 8 to 10 weeks on skins, 2017 Grenache blended in. One barrel of Swartland Carignan 2016. Beautiful dark, alluring wine with sweet black pepper corns, savoury cured meats, black berry spice, black olive and black plum style that eventually meanders back to brightness and purity with the use of the 2017 Grenache addition. Another crystalline style, total focus and purity, with component parts beautifully pieced together. So cool, pure and fresh, with great precision that is a manifestation of Carstens own personality. Lovely wine.

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

Syrah 2015 WO Stellenbosch, 13 Abv.

10 weeks on the skins. 14 months in old oak, inoculated, unfined, unfiltered, destalked, destemmed, with initially whole berry cold fermentation in tank allowing malo on skins in tank. Pure Helderberg expression with delicious blackberry, iodine, coriander and lavender and subtle hints of fraise des bois. A medium bodied, classical old world European style wine with subtle restrained fruit, black berry salinity, some accessibility in young but embroidered with complex mineral pithy tannins and a fresh linear finish. Still taut, broody and tight, the finish will become naturally embellished with extra time in bottle. A great vintage and a very serious, “adults only” top shelf effort.

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

Franschhoek’s La Motte Private Cellar Breaking New Ground In the UK Market…

Can an estate be too popular for its own good? Well, some producers like La Motte are so revered in the local South African home market that there has never really been an impetus to push exports on international markets. So today was probably the first time I have tasted these iconic wines outside of South Africa.

As I embarrassingly always tell young Reenen Borman, usually over a glass of Patatsfontein Chenin… when I hear the name Borman, I normally think of his father, the legend, Jacques Borman, who created some wonderful wines at the La Motte winery. But times do change and after a surprise visit from owner Hein Koegelenberg to announce the appointment of The Wine Treasury as their new UK importer, we tasted through some of their delicious range of wines.

Owner and La Motte CEO Hein Koegelenberg (centre)

Look out for these superbly well priced, high quality whites and reds that are about to seduce the UK market. I have no doubt their high quality range is going to be a big hit (just as it has been in the local South African market).

La Motte Pierneef Collection Syrah – Viognier 2015, WO Western Cape, 13.5 Abv.

The Pierneef Collection is a premium range of wines crafted in tribute to the great South African artist Jacob Hendrick Pierneef. An impressive red from the block buster 2015 vintage is a blend of 94% Syrah sourced from Walker Bay and Elim together with 6% Viognier from Franschhoek, this wine wears its ripeness and opulence boldly on its sleeve, the nose unashamedly intense, rich and complex. Matured for 18 months in 300 litre oak barrels, 75% new, there are layers of sweet black berry confit, kirsch liquor, black olive, black plum and vanilla pod savoury depth. The palate too is ultra plush, sleek textured and fleshy, showing notable harmony, fine fruit with acid balance and a salty, liquorice kissed piquant finish. Plenty of power, intensity and concentration but delivered in a sensitive and sophisticated style. Drink now to 2028+

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 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)

Extreme Passion and Precision – Exploring the Cult Wines of Paul Lato from Santa Maria, California…

From his experience of tasting the finest wines from around the world when he was a head sommelier, Paul Lato realised all the greatest wines possessed characteristics of authenticity, harmony, and of course elegance. These are the qualities he set about trying to achieve when he started making wines in California. His ultimate goal was to create wines that are seamless and textural but with enough structure and balance to complement fine cuisine.


In order to make wines of the highest calibre, Paul selected unique vineyards that are cared for by talented growers and vineyard managers committed to excellence. He sought to locate and source from not only the best vineyards but also the best blocks within each of these vineyards, a tough ask with demand outstripping supply from the very best growers. During the growing season, yields are restricted to achieve maximum concentration of flavour. Harvesting is always based on physiological ripeness, which changes depending on the vintage characteristics.

Cellar work is based on minimal intervention, cleanliness and purity of intention. Because every vintage is different, he does not believe in recipe winemaking. With due respect to science, Paul believes that “true artisanal winemaking is based on intuition, sensitivity and passion”. Keeping the lots small allows for gentle handling throughout the winemaking process.

Making only 4000 cases per year, Paul wants his wines to give pleasure and keep the drinkers palate interested until the very last drop from the bottle. Inevitably, with his high level of attention to detail and quality focus, his wines have garnered high scores from the critics and resulted in a massive cult following, with 90% of his wines produced being sold exclusively through his Paul Lato Wine Club.

Paul Lato Le Souvenir Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, 13.9 Abv.

A classic Chardonnay which comes from 22 year old Wente clone vines, shows subtle creamy lemon and nutty brûléed citrus fruit lift. Lemon blossom, grapefruit confit and caramel peanut brittle and vanilla bean complexity are all there just teasing the senses. A youthful palate shows nerve, intensity, creamy barley sugar and toffee apple freshness. Intense flavours but nothing over done. Beautiful texture, deliciously vibrant acids, and a subtle minerality lurking beneath the fruit. A very serious multi-dimensional wine that’s also very finely focused. 

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

 

Paul Lato Atticus John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Rita Hills, 14.2 Abv.

Tight intense focused aromatics of black cherry, pomegranate, red tart plums, cranberry and savoury baking spice. Plenty of exotic brûléed notes, intense red fruit layers and peppery, seductive flavours. Sleek, elegant mouthfeel, mouth watering fresh acids, a sweet & sour plummy touch, blood oranges and plenty of bright salty, bramble berry fruit nuances. The ethereal Burgundian lacy texture is most impressive. Fabulous wine.

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

 

Paul Lato il Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah 2014, Santa Rita Hills, 15.4 Abv.

Dense, opulent show stopper style immediately evident. Massive intensity, perfume and fragrance showing cherry blossom, sweet jasmine, blueberry muffin, coffee bean, sweet expensive oak spice and dusty, mineral limestone complexity. Super plush, broad and intense, the acids build a sturdy frame from which the exotic fruit finery is displayed. Big, bold, well executed expression with incredible finesse, polish and precision.

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

 

Tasting the Perfect Bohemian Bank Holiday Syrah from Schalk Burger & Son’s Welbedacht Wine Estate in Wellington…

There can be no doubting the pedigree of the Syrah fruit grown at the Welbedacht Estate in Wellington. Some of the best grapes have been siphoned off quietly for other “premium” WO Western Cape Syrah for years. The large Welbedacht Estate (pronounced “well-be-duct”) is situated in one of the Cape’s most picturesque landscapes near Wellington, a warm climate region which seems ideally suited to the cultivation and production of world class Rhone varieties like Syrah.


Welbedacht is also home to the Burger family, surely one of the country’s most recognised sporting names. Schalk Senior was a formidable Springbok rugby player back in his day (and his handshake still is), and son Schalk Junior has followed in his father’s size 14 footsteps representing South Africa multiple times as a Springbok and who is now playing out the twilight of his career at Saracens in the UK. Second son, Tiaan, hung up his provincial rugby boots a few years ago and now heads up the cellar’s marketing operations.


In 1995, Schalk bought his first farm, Af-en-Toe, and started farming with 40 hectares of Cinsaut and Chenin Blanc. This was followed by the purchase of Welbedacht in 1997. Dating back to 1830s, it was a bit run down, but the water and the established old trees may have led to the decision to buy it. Welbedacht means “well thought out” in Dutch, and this is precisely how the Burger family approached the extensive restoration of this gracious property to its previous glory.


Schalk Burger & Sons Welbedacht Wine Estate Bohemian Syrah 2015, WO Wellington, 14.5 Abv.

The 2015 Syrah is probably one of the best I have tried from the Estate. There is a seductively rich intense nose of blueberry crumble, ripe black berries, mulberries and an alluring lift of vanilla pod mixed with violets, cherry blossom and sweet oak spice. Despite the 14.5 Abv, this lush rich wine is light on its feet, vibrant and thoroughly vital, with lovely clean linear acids and powdery tannins that punctuate the palate texture perfectly. The nose continues to open up in the glass revealing subtle bruleed coffee bean notes, fynbos, savoury cured meats, sweet black peppercorns, and a ripe black cherry kirsch intensity on the finish. The wine is drinking so beautifully now it would be a shame to bury it away in the cellar. Opulent, expressively dark fruited, this delicious purity should be enjoyed now and over as many stages of development as possible. Drink now to 2028+.

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