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An exclusive blend from the Plan de Dieu, perfect for earlier drinking. Mostly grenache but with syrah and mourvèdre too, this is full-flavoured and delicious. 2019–2025. Magnums available.
Product Code: RH49001
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View all products by Paul Jaboulet Aîné
The man credited with starting the family firm was Antoine Jaboulet in the early nineteenth century. Antoine had twin sons, Henri and Paul. Both expanded the business but it was the elder (aîné) brother who had the business named after him giving the full title of the firm: Paul Jaboulet Aîné. The generations passed until Louis and his brother Jean arrived on the scene. Louis was the brains and marketing genius and it was he who, by some accident, made the very first contact with The Society some 40 years ago. Among the first wines ever bought would have been La Chapelle 1961, probably one of the greatest wines ever made.Louis Jaboulet remained in charge for some time until his son Gérard was rightly put in charge. Gérard, brilliant and outgoing like his father, was a worthy successor and became the driving force behind the firm. Sadly, a succession of calamities in the 1990’s were about to endanger the firm’s survival. In the early 1990s Gérard’s equally talented brother Jacques, who had overseen winemaking, was involved in a scuba-diving accident which left him in a coma for months and from then on unable to recover his influence. Then, tragically in 1997, Gérard died suddenly, aged just 55. Gérard was not just the driving force of Jaboulet; he also had the authority that held the family together. Following his passing, the next generation, young and inexperienced, struggled to cope. The baton was passed between several members of the family, who never quite managed to restore the harmony and success of old in the wines as much as in family relations.In 2005 news came that the entire family business had been sold to Franco-Swiss financier, Jean-Jacques Frey, who also owns Château La Lagune in Bordeaux as well as having a large holding in Champagne house Billecart-Salmon. His daughter, Caroline Frey, is in charge of winemaking. Much has changed, with Frey’s considerable wealth allowing Jaboulet to invest heavily in new cellars as well as more vineyards in Côte-Rôtie and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example. The wines themselves are certainly more convincing than those made during the tumultuous period following Gérard’s death, but it is still early days for the new regime.At the heart of the estate is Hermitage where Jaboulet own 22 hectares, a little less than Chapoutier. The vineyards, in descending order of size, are Méal, Maisons Blanches, Bessards, Diognieres, La Croix and Rocoules. It is the blend of syrah grapes from these vineyards that make La Chapelle, which is a brand name and not a vineyard. Indeed, though the chapel itself, from where the wine takes its name is owned by Jaboulet, the vines around belong mostly to Chapoutier and Chave.As impactful as La Chapelle, and certainly more affordable, is Crozes-Hermitage from the Thalabert vineyard, an original Jaboulet planting. Another important area for Jaboulet is Cornas, where they make some of the appellation’s best wines, from fruit grown on their own estate at Saint Pierre, and from grapes purchased from other growers.
Producing over 3.5m hl (hectolitres), this is the second biggest region for production of appellation contrôlée wine in France after Bordeaux. Most is red, though production of both white and pink is growing. Some 20 grape varieties are planted in the south though one in particular, Grenache, gives the region as a whole its identity: generosity, body, weight and a definite tendency to making big wines. More than half of the production is of Côtes-du-Rhône with the best sold as Côtes-du-Rhône Villages. Better still are the so-called crus led by Châteauneuf-du-Pape itself.Châteauneuf-du-Pape: This large area to the north of Avignon makes the best wines of the south. Reds tend to be grenache based with syrah, mourvèdre and counoise also used. Few wines combine immense strength with perfect elegance quite so convincingly. Word of caution: Châteauneuf produces as much wine as the whole of the northern Rhône put together. A third is very good, a third acceptable and the last third, undrinkable.Right bank: Villages include Tavel (rosé only) Lirac, Saint-Gervais and Laudun. There is more rain here but it is also hot and grapes are therefore early ripening. Most of the area lies in the département of the Gard and stretches from the river westwards towards Nîmes where at some ill-defined line in the soil, the Rhône becomes the Languedoc. This is an area that has much improved over the years and has become a valuable source for very fine, concentrated syrah wines in particular.A little further on are the Costieres de Nimes, a large area of upland plateau, south-east of Nîmes. For the moment the Costières produces good everyday wines of good quality but there is potential to do much more.Northern hills: There are fresh sub-alpine breezes at work here and as a result the wines often have a distinct freshness too. Just north of Orange is the largely wooded and isolated Massif d'Uchaux. Many of its star producers here are able to farm organically. The three 'Vs' : Valréas, Visan and Vinsobres: These are three top neighbouring villages (with a 4th, Saint-Maurice broadly similar to Vinsobres). Vinsobres has full cru status and makes superb wine. Best names include Perrin, now the largest land owner and Domaine Jaume whose wines have been charming members since the 1979 vintage.Valréas and Visan are planted on the same hill but tend to look north. Emmanuel Bouchard is one of the top names in Valréas. Adrien Fabre makes both outstanding examples of both Visan and Saint-Maurice.Tricastin/Grignan-lès-Adhémar - The Tricastin is a much neglected part of the Rhône and coming down from the northern Rhône, these are the first vines one sees. It's a relatively cool area, far too cold for growing mourvèdre successfully, but the whites do very well and so does the syrah grape. The area has seen a name change as Tricastin is also the name of a power station on the river. The new name for the wines (which doesn't exactly trip off the tongue), is Grignan-lès-Adhémar. Central hills - This includes the villages of Cairanne and Rasteau along with neighbouring Roaix. Big full-bodied wines, grenache dominated. Rasteau is all power and might while Cairanne is more deicate.Plan de Dieu - Large flat expanse of pudding stones that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, in the middle of which there is an airfield, (largely built for the Luftwaffe) surrounded by vines. Full-bodied style. Excellent for mourvèdre. Jaboulet are very good here as is the Meffre family.Eastern fringes - Set against an iconic landscape with Mont Ventoux and the craggy Dentelles de Montmirail as the backdrop, some of these hillsides were first planted by the Romans and include some of the best-known names in the Rhône Valley.Gigondas: Mountain wine, late harvested, always dramatic and very full-bodied though never coarse or overweight. These are generous reds, capable of long ageing. A little rosé is also made.Vacqueyras: Next door to Gigondas yet different. Fruitier, a shade less powerful and more obviously charming:Beaumes de Venise: The red is as full as Gigondas but rounder and less complex and this village is better known for its sweet muscat, a vin doux naturel and perfect for desserts.Ventoux: At nearly 2000m this is some mountain which scores of cyclists are forced to conquer every year in the Tour de France. Its lower slopes are vineyard country though. Traditionally these were known as Côtes du Ventoux and were made and sold cheaply. Things are changing though with more estates cutting yields and making full and concentrated wine, not dissimilar to and better value than many Châteauneufs.
The verdict of all the growers we asked? ‘Exceptional.’ The weather remained perfect at harvest time and growers had the luxury of being able to pick as they pleased, optimising ripeness, plot by plot. One grower referred to the fruit at harvest time as in ‘demonstration mode’: the crop was immaculate and ripeness complete. Even the stalks that often remain green, had, in many cases, turned brown! The wines really are that good, in both the north and the south – the latter boasting some remarkable successes, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Northern RedsThese wines are bright and sleek, and have a wonderful density and purity of fruit, fine, well-integrated tannins and perfect balance. Despite the quality, it was not quite plain sailing in the north: Hermitage was hit by hail in April, in some cases halving the crop. Thankfully, the vines themselves were not too damaged and the wines, if anything, are even more concentrated as a result. Everywhere is good but Saint-Joseph, with its steep granitic slopes tempering the ardour of the vintage, performed particularly well. The Southern RedsPerfection! From beginning to end, nothing went against the 2016 harvest in the south. There was heat and rain when it was needed and not a drop more! The wines are a joy. They have weight and concentration to be sure, with tannins that are fine and well integrated, and yet they also have real lift and charm. Châteauneuf is outstanding but then so is everything else. This will be one to savour over many years to come.The Languedoc-RoussillonFantastic wines with classicism and purity of expression, plus a wonderful balancing freshness that really seems to be the signature of this vintage. The WhitesThe cool summer nights helped to preserve the fruit in the white wines, too, and they are excellent: full of flavour and concentration (especially in hail-affected Hermitage), but also purity of fruit and invigorating freshness. The Condrieu wines are wonderful, opulent yet focused, and the Saint-Péray and Crozes-Hermitage whites also stand out for depth and grace. In general, the whites are likely to keep well too.
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