It is always hard to envisage a wine region without ever seeing it with your own two eyes. I have looked at so many maps of Cote Rotie in the past and to be honest I never understood the grandeur of the place, never understood how bloody steep the hills are or how hard it must be to work the vineyards.
After seeing Cote Rotie with my own two eyes, I will never whine about the cost of the wines from this region ever again.
Our first stop in the Rhone Valley was Domaine Jamet. Jean Paul Jamet, who is quite a quirky chap, makes his wines from around 25 separate vineyards in the Cote Blonde and Cote Brune – all Shiraz and all of which I adored.
First up was 2011 from the Lancement and Chavarost vineyards (granite soil) and made with 95% whole bunches. Umami was the first word I wrote and this wine was textbook. Savory, soy, dark plums and green peppercorns on the nose. Great line and minerality on the palate, with soft balanced acidity and incredible precision. This was the first wine of the day, it was 9am and I didn’t spit it out – it was that good.
Next up was 2011 (also tasted from barrel) La Plomb and Mornachon from slate soil. This was a seductive little number, violet and floral with an underlying umami character, though not as dominate as the last. Very intense, yet lovely and soft with beautiful tannin structure, an absolutely beautiful wine. At this point I forgot how cold it was!
I will put up all the tasting notes that I wrote from 2011 Jamet at another time as what I really want to write about is the other vintages we tasted – the 2010, 2009, 2008 and 1992. These were all mind-blowing wines, almost faultless and completely drinkable, even at 9am.
The 2010 Jamet From the Lancemond vineyard, which was 100% de-stemmed, was complex and interesting whilst being powerful and restrained at the same time. I know that sounds impossible but believe me this was and is incredible Shiraz.
The nose showed red fruit, red licorice, perfumed floral aromatics, rock salt and at the end a hint of earth. The palate was soft yet textural with hints of chocolate and roasted coffee. Tannins in line and great balanced acidity with wafts of roasted chestnuts on the length.
The 2009 ( I forgot to write the vineyard down) was a warmer vintage, dark and powerful with dominating red fruit on the nose yet the palate was fresh and fine with incredible balance, purity and forceful yet supple tannin.
The 2008 was very ethereal with a slight hint of banana on the nose. Very fresh with integrated dried herbs and red fruit. The palate was beautifully supple with chewy, almost chalky tannin though not as predominate as in 09, yet lovely lasting length and defiantly age worthy.
Then we finished the tasting off with a 1992, which we were told was a very difficult vintage. Spicy on the nose with hints of English breakfast tea, whole bunch black peppercorns, tobacco, dried herbs and an interesting strepsil character that I actually really liked. The palate was very fresh, with lovely herbaceousness, depth and length with wonderful up front tannin.
Amazing! Domain Jamet was and I’ll say it again – Amazing! So good that I bought a few bottles for myself to bring back to Australia.
Next up was Andre Perret in Condrieu. Everybody loves Perret. I do not often hear a bad thing about this domain and I must say that I have also been a huge fan in the past but you know we can not let one vintage spoil a winemaker’s reputation. It would have been hard for anyone to shine after the brilliance we had just seen at Jamet.
However I really wasn’t fussed with any of the 2010 vintage from Perret. I found the alcohol too high, the tannin too green and the fruit boring.
So instead of writing an essay here’s a pretty picture instead.
Only two appointments down, in what was to be one of the best days’ tasting of the trip. We had a visit booked with Yves Cuilleron next but the poor man was so busy we only got to do a super quick run through of the 2011 vintage. Yves had to rush to get some samples ready for us to taste, while we killed some time in a nearby bottle store.
As the samples we tasted were not ready, nor finished I cant be too harsh. I will say, that his reds were outstanding and defiantly worth another look. One to keep an eye out for would have to be 2010 St Joseph ‘ Les Pierres Seches’ (100% Syrah). Very elegant red petal and red fruit nose, nice tannins and nice acidity. It was really looking lovely, even though it was not finished and had not been fined as yet.
After a pretty wonderful morning we jumped back into the car and headed off to our next installment – Croze Hermitage.
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