An impressive return to the top Echelon

On my second day at Vin Expo in 2011, the day started with a tasting at the Jaboulet stand. Jaboulet is a wonderful old company located in Tain l’Hermitage in the Northern Rhône (also home to Valrohna chocolate) it was started in the 19th Century by Antoine Jaboulet. Over the years, the family expanded and it became Paul Jaboulet Aîné. In 2005 Jaboulet was sold, vineyards, stock and the whole property to the Frey Family owners of Chateau La Lagune in Bordeaux. From 2005 on, there’s been much change at Jaboulet – all for the best. As I started tasting the 2009 wines, I was delighted to see a return to glory for this property; the quality has been increasing steadily for a number of years and with these 2009 wines has moved another giant step forward. Here’s some of my thoughts and notes on a few of the wines from the 2009 vintage.

Jaboulet’s Thalabert site is the oldest of the Jaboulet vineyards, being owned by Jaboulet since 1834, the vine age is between 40 and 50 years. The 2009 Thalabert is made from 100% Syrah and is quite simply put – impressive! The fruit for this must have been super ripe, when I initially looked at this wine, I must admit to being a little concerned that the ripeness would lead to more of an Australian richness on the palate. A little concerned, but excited by what the nose promised, I proceeded to taste, great stuff – it was nothing like an Australian Shiraz and every bit great Rhône Syrah. This is a balanced wine, full of spice and pepper, exceptional fruit and weight, all bound together with some inky notes, hints of oak and an overriding softness.

Jaboulet La Petit Chapelle 2009 is a hidden little gem. It comes from the same vines used to produce La Chapelle, there are 7 different parcels in total and each are made separately in the winery. They are then rigorously tasted and the best are bottled as La Chapelle, the balance become La Petit Chapelle. The palate was impressive, more acidity than the Thalabert, that wonderful spice, delicate notes an incredibly long finish and so much balance. La Petit Chapelle makes is 70% of the production from the parcels that come off the vineyards for La Chapelle.

Jaboulet La Chapelle 2009 is the jewel in the range. It now represents 30% of the production off Chapelle. Looking back at my notes now from tasting this and I really need to find a new set of superlatives, it’s hard when tasting wines this good, I’ve used most of the right words for La Petit Chapelle and Thalabert, so now how to describe a wine that just stands heads and shoulders above both of them. This is a return to glory for this outstanding Northern Rhône producer and this vineyard site. I would expect this will be very well sought after and a must for collectors.

We’ll also be importing the Crozes Hermitage Raymond Roure – this vineyard site was added to the Jaboulet properties in 1996, it is a 3.5ha vineyard site, with vine age between 40 – 60 years and produces completely different style to the Thalabert, I always enjoy the bright forward fruit of the Crozes Hermitage Raymond Roure, in comparison to Thalabert, is a lot more fresh and youthful in its outlook.

Jaboulet 2009 wines will be in stock early March 2012, well worth searching out.