7th May 2016 : "A Roam in the Rhône - North v South" with Janis and Bill in Worthing
A full house turnout (the fifth in a row!) for our May extravaganza with Janis & Bill in Worthing. Bill pulled out all the stops to give us some great 'blockbusters'...
The White Wines:
1. Vacqueryras 'Blanc les Clefs d'Or' Clos des Cazaux 2013; Clairette, Rousanne & Grenache Blanc grapes; 13.5% alc; £12.00 from The Wine Society
White Vacqueyras is rare yet Clos des Cazaux makes it one of their star wines. The key is the clairette grape for grip and freshness with roussanne and grenache blanc bringing flavour and body. Crisp, dry and perfectly balanced. Great with oysters.
The years go by and no two vintages are ever the same. In 2013, there was no spring. In its place, the cold, wet winter just seemed to go on forever. It wasn’t until July that temperatures began to rise, and suddenly summer arrived. Flowering was poor and the grenache grape suffered especially. The Indian summer, which was never too hot, came as blissful respite for growers who began to wonder whether they would ever be able to pick.
2. Saint Péray 'Les Pins' Domaine Bernard Gripa 2011; Marsanne Roussanne grapes; 13.5% alc; £18.00 from The Wine Society
Refreshing, fruity dry white from the up-and-coming Saint-Péray appellation. Floral nose with lemon and honey and some crispness too making this very attractive.
The village of Mauves is central to Saint-Joseph and it is here that many of the best producers have their cellars. Fabrice Gripa, with vines in Saint-Péray as well as Saint-Joseph, is certainly one of them, working in the village alongside other eminent residents of the town such as Gonon, Chave and Coursodon. Talented Fabrice, the current generation to continue the family’s heritage, returned home after some time spent in Australia's Margaret River, and he works alongside his father. They own 16 hectares of vines in two appellations – 12.5 hectares in Saint-Joseph and 3.5 in Saint-Péray – making four bottlings of the former, two red and two white, and two of the latter, both white. In Saint-Joseph the top cuvée is Le Berceau, comprising a white made from 100% marsanne, and a wholly syrah red, both from their oldest vines and both long-lived. In Saint-Péray, a purely white-wine appellation, a similar hierarchy exists for the two wines made from marsanne and roussanne, with the top cuvée represented by Les Figuiers, again made with the fruit of the oldest vines. Oak vats of various sizes are used judiciously for maturing the wines.
3. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 'Les Closiers' Ogier 2014; Grenache Blanc, Roussanne grape blend; 13.5% alc; £22.00 from Marks & Spencer
Hints of earth, spice and white flowers. Textured finish on the palate.
4. Condrieu, Guigal 2013; Viognier grapes; 13.5% alc; £33.00 from Waitrose
Origin: The famous enclave of Condrieu is well known for the richly exotic and perfumed wines it produces from the rare Viognier grape variety. Guigal was part of the resurgence of Condrieu and uses oak to impart extra nuances to the wine.
Taste: The famous enclave of Condrieu is well known for the richly exotic and perfumed wines it produces from the rare Viognier grape variety. Guigal was part of the resurgence of Condrieu and uses oak to impart extra nuances to the wine.
Enjoy: A superb match for crab, pork and also creamy curries, Condrieu should be drunk young.Aromas of pears, sweet peaches and pineapples abound in this wine, which is delicately dry, full-flavoured, with a silky palate-feel and lashings of vanilla and spice on the long finish.
Moving on to the Reds selected by Bill:
5. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 'Arc du Rhône'; Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre grapes; 13.5% alc; £14.00 from Waitrose
Smooth in texture and laced with the savoury-sweet spice of black pepper and touches of herbal notes, this rich Châteauneuf is ripe and full-flavoured.
6. St. Joseph 'Cave de Saint-Desirat' 2012; 100% Syrah grapes; 12.5% alc; £14.00 from Waitrose
This classic red is made from 100% Syrah grapes and has warm raspberry and blackberry fruit flavours streaked with subtle hints of liquorice
7. Oratoire St Martin 'Réserve des Signeurs', Cairanne 2010; Mouvèdre, Grenache & Syrah grapes; 14.5% alc; £14.00 bought by Bill from the producers
This Cuvée Prestige, a Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne red area of St. Martin Oratory, is made from very old vines Grenache and Mourvèdre - 60% grenache, 40% mourvèdre. They are grown on clay and limestone soil on which they have very low yields, less than 20hl / ha, giving a material and very concentrated aromas.
After hand picking and carefully sorted vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks, with 12 months of ageing.
This is a wine which is concentrated, structured, with red fruit, musk, liquorice and spices. Should be cellared for a few years.
8. Crozes Hermitage- Les Jalets Paul Jaboulet Aîné 2010; Syrah grape; 14.0% alc; £20.00 from The Wine Society
This famous Rhône winery was bought by the Frey family in 2006. The Freys, owners of Château la Lagune in Bordeaux, saw the potential of the vineyards. They brought renewed energy to this corner of France. Jaboulet’s most celebrated wine is its Hermitage La Chapelle, named after the chapel that overlooks this most celebrated of vineyards. Jaboulet have owned the chapel since the end of the first world war. It’s an icon of this part of the Rhône valley, it marks where the best vines are grown.
Its name comes from the word "jalets" which is the Old French word for the pebbles left by alpine glaciers, as can be found at Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Since the takeover, Caroline Frey has successfully transformed the entire range, putting more emphasis on greater fruit expression and dramatically reducing the amount of new oak. The only way is up for this transformed domaine.
9. Cotes du Rhône 'Les Garrigues' Domaine de la Janasse, 2009; 100% Grenache grape; 15.4% alc; £25.00 from The Wine Society
94/100 from Robert Parker - "A Provençal fruit bomb, elegant, terrific. A killer"
10. Cornas, Nicolas Perrin/Jaboulet 2010; 100% Syrah grapes; 13.5% alc; £26.00 from The Wine Society
"A concentrated wine from the appellation du moment, the 2010 boasts the deep colour and tannic power for which Cornas is famous, yet still has pavonine elegance on the finish, which refreshes and satisfies in equal measure." Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer, February 2012
The alliance of two of the greatest houses of the Rhône, Jaboulet and Perrin, with Nicholas Jaboulet at its helm, was always a very promising one. The promise has quickly materialised and the 2010s are even better than the already excellent 2009s. The best sites and the best growers have been harnessed. As Nicolas eloquently puts it, the Perrins at Beaucastel exploit many different grapes on fundamentally the same terroir, but his goal here is to cultivate what is essential the same grape (albeit dependent on the colour of the wine) but in differing terroirs.
Janis served her excellent signature dish of Cassoulet with salad, cheeses, rhubarb tart and cream and frozen almond creams.