Wines of Rhone Valley – Paul Jaboulet

There are some names in the world of wine that everyone seems to know. I’m never quite sure if that is because they are very well-known or because I experienced the wines very early on in my career. Paul Jaboulet is one such name. I remember studying the wines of the northern Rhone valley at the Hotelschool and some of the Jaboulet wines ended up being tasted as benchmark wines of the style. I don’t think we had ‘La Chapelle’, more likely a Crozes-Hermitage. La Chapelle has always been expensive, one of those top of the range, luxury wines, coming from the best sites on the hill of Hermitage. That’s no different today. In fact, each bottle comes with a special card containing a code which allows access to a VIP part of the website to enhance the exclusive experience. I bet they didn’t have that back in 1834 when Antoine Jaboulet established the first vineyards on the slopes of the Hermitage.

These days Paul Jaboulet Aîné, to give it its full name, is owned by the Frey family, who also make wine in Bordeaux and Champagne. Caroline Frey took over as winemaker in 2006 and she produces a wide range of wines, from both the Southern and Northern Rhone. Wines like the popular Parallèle 45 provide an introduction to Cotes du Rhone with a traditional blend of Grenache and Syrah for example. But the domaine’s history lies further north and with the Syrah variety in particular. And it was those wines we concentrated on during a tasting of the wines with Marie Cordonnier, Paul Jaboulet’s export director. I had a quick chat with her on video and asked her to pick one wine we could discuss. It may seem obvious to go for the luxury end and pick ‘La Chapelle’ but I wanted something a bit more down to earth. Marie picked the Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage 2007. The reason is quite simple, it’s a very tasty wine, silky smooth, ripe fruit and a bit of an earthy edge. But these are also the first vineyards the Jaboulet family ever owned, so in effect this is where it all started.

We managed to taste a few others as well though. I can’t say I have much experience of the white wines from the Northern Rhone. Typical grape varieties are Marsanne and Roussanne for the Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage and Viognier for the Condrieu. For some reason I expected these wines to be bigger, but a couple of times I wrote down ‘delicate’. I liked the ‘delicate’, slightly floral Marsanne/Roussanne blend ‘Mule Blanche’ from Crozes-Hermitage. Mule Blanche means white ass (as in donkey!). It is another of the older vineyards so named because in the early days the hardy donkeys were regularly used as pack animals in the vineyards.

The other wine that really floated my boat was the Cornas Grandes Terrasses 2009. A lovely warm, spicy nose, tasting of sweet black fruit and cocoa powder. As I’m a cheapskate I would chose this wine or the Domaine de Thalabert over the Hermitage La Chapelle. At around about the thirty pound mark for these wines I could get almost six bottles for one of La Chapelle. Only thing is, I really wanted to see what’s going on in the VIP section of the website. I wonder if there is a dress code?

 

The Scottish Connection

Food, Fun & Fizz – Burns in Love!

Wedged firmly between Burns Night and Valentines, the twain did meet in a very special Scottish food & wine tasting in Glasgow on February 6th. In conjunction with Brenda Anderson from Tasting Scotland we showcased Scotland’s infinite variety of produce while matching this with some superb wines from around the world that can trace their proudly Scottish roots.

When I started researching this tasting I was amazed by the sheer amount of wine I could chose from. The Scots really do get out there, making wine from Spain, to New Zealand, from Australia to South Africa and even a little in Scotland itself.

Kicking off the love was a Scottish Sparkling Strawberry wine from the quirky Cairn O’Mohr winery, made using local Perthshire strawberries. The medium-sweet fruity character makes it very easy drinking, which means you can have it on its own or pair it with lighter, fruit-based desserts.

The seven-stage menu provided plenty of opportunity to sample Scotland’s produce.

 

Some hae (smoked) meat

A taste of Smoked Beef & Smoked Venison from the Rannoch Smokery

These cold smoked meats call for quite a powerful wine and I chose the white Huia Gewürztraminer, from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, (£14) with its pungent nose and spicy character. It is rich and creamy enough to stand up to the food. The owners of the winery, Claire and Mike Allan make some very characterful wines and can trace their roots back to Scotland.

The La Multa Old Vine Garnacha (£8) is made by Scotsman Norrel Robertson MW. He is known as ‘El Escoces Volante’ or the Flying Scotsman. After starting his career with Oddbins he travelled the world, making wine in a variety of countries. He is now based in the Spanish Calatayud region where he makes a number of different wines, among which is this juicy, and far too easy drinking Garnacha.

 

The Rigs O’ Barley

Pearl Barley risotto served with Smoked Chicken & Smoked Duck from the Rannoch Smokery

The creaminess of the risotto and the different meats gave me an opportunity to experiment with two Australian wines. The Skillogalee Rose from Australia’s Clare Valley (£13) is a juicy blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. It really shows off the ripe fruit. The winery is owned by David and Diana Palmer who both originally came from Edinburgh and are now producing stunning wines in South Australia. Look out for their amazing wines from the Riesling grape as well.

The second wine is produced by the third Baron of Glenguin, Robin Tedder MW. This means he has a direct connection with the Glengoyne distillery just outside Glasgow. Robin Tedder’s grandfather was the first baron of the land the Glengoyne distillery occupies and was an excise man. I’m told he had a hand in bringing about the law that Scottish Whisky should be aged in oak for three years and one day. Glenguin Old Broke Semillon (£15) from Australia’s Hunter Valley. The tasters loved this wine with the smoked duck in particular. Despite its age (it was 2005) the wine was still full of zippy lemon and lime flavours, the acidity providing a good balance to the duck. Also keep a look out for a Glengoyne malt whisky finished in Robin’s Shiraz barrels.

 

Bard’s Broth

A modern take on the traditional ‘Scotch Broth’

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc (£12). Urlar is New Zealand winery and is the Gaelic word for earth. The winery was established in 2004 by Angus and Davina Thomson after they left their farm in the Scottish Highlands. Organic viticulture and sustainability are their driving forces and they even have a herd of Highland cattle on the estate, providing that magic Scottish ingredient by way of organic fertiliser. Their Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is pretty textbook. Fresh, a mix of gooseberry and tropical fruits and characteristically mouthwatering.

 

The Great Chieftain o’ the puddin’ race

Haggis from Ramsay of Carluke

Iona the Gunnar (£14) is made by Andrew Gunn, who traces his family roots back to Scotland and even has Viking roots. Not only is the name Iona very Scottish, it is situated in Elgin. The vineyards were planted in an old apple orchard and the Sauvignon Blanc is outstanding, but I’m a big fan of ‘The Gunnar’ a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a little Petit Verdot, like you get from Bordeaux. The proximity to the ocean lengthens the ripening season and it shows in the gorgeous ripe fruit.

 

The Poet’s Ploughman

Barwheys Cheese from Ayrshire

For the cheese I chose a classic southern French blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. The Cotes du Roussillon Special Reserve Charles Rennie Mackintosh (£11.50) is an homage to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who spent the last few years of his life in Port Vendres in the Western Languedoc, the heartland for these vines. Many of his paintings depict Port Vendres, a small port near the Spanish border, and the nearby landscapes.

 

Cupid’s Dessert Cocktail

An adult and liquid version of Cranachan. Shaken not stirred by our good friend Richard Duffy

 

Luscious Lots of Chocolate Love

White, Rose & Vanilla, Milk, Dark and The Chieftain by the Chocolate Tree, Edinburgh & East Lothian

With the dark and Haggis flavoured ‘The Chieftain’ we had a taste of El Puño (£18), one of my favourite Garnachas made by El Escoces Volante, Norrel Robertson who also produces the La Multa. This is full bodied, full of flavour with a chocolatey feel on the finish. Although I would have this with big, meaty dishes normally (think Sunday roast) but the ripe blackberry and plum fruit and chocolate make it work with the dark, bitter chocolates.

 

The various wines were supplied by:

www.rose-wine.com

Bibendum Wine

Cross Stobs Wine

Great Western Wine