Delas Frères is one of the smaller Rhône négociants. Founded in the 19th century, it maintained its independence until 1978, when it was purchased by the Champagne house, Deutz, now part of Louis Roederer. Its declining reputation was turned around by winemaker Jacques Grange, of Burgundian roots, who came on board in 1997 and was extremely instrumental in improving quality and revitalising an underperforming range. The 1999 vintage in particular was significant as the Delas wines caught the attention of American critic Robert Parker.
Both reds and whites are excellent here. All are very expressive of the terroir, as is Jacques Grange’s aim. Traditionally Delas have been strong in Saint-Joseph where they have marketed reds from the famous Côte Sainte Epine above the cellars at Saint Jean de Muzols. A point of interest here for railway buffs and gourmets alike is an old train line, open during summer, which goes from Tournon up through the gorge of the river Doux to the hill town of Lamastre. Buyer Marcel Orford-Williams says, “I’ve never done it but it looks fun and there is an especially fine one star Michelin restaurant when you get there.”
Delas owns some vineyard sites on Hermitage but the majority is rented from the Marquis de la Tourette, an Ardechois aristocrat. Other holdings still owned by the Delas family include a sizeable plot of Bessards in Hermitage, along with some Côte- Rôtie, Condrieu and, of course, Crozes-Hermitage.