It’s hard to find a poor Côtes du Rhône and, even more hearteningly, at the other end of the scale it’s often easy to find examples that perform well above their mark – this being a very fine illustration of just that. From clay-based vines just outside the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, this shows a fulsome density and a genuinely heart-warming quality way above its humble price. Le bon marché!
Tom Cave, Cellar Plan Manager
Equal measures of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from eponymous clay soils just outside the Châteauneuf-du-Pape boundary have been aged in large wooden vats to produce this wine. Rich and plush, this certainly does not want for concentration in 2011, with spicy ripe dark fruit and a satisfyingly savoury grip.
Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer
Sabon is a familiar name in the Southern Rhône, a little like Marguet in Champagne or Lurton in Bordeaux. Beyond the complicated Napoleonic dynastic maze, there are some excellent vignerons, few more so than siblings Christophe and Isabelle, who farm 20 hectares centred in the Courthzon commune. Fairly traditional winemaking and a pleasingly unassuming manner have not prevented their particular branch of the family from some of the greatest plaudits of all.Domaine de la Janasse
The 2011 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Terre d’Argile is composed of equal parts Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan grown in clay soils just outside Chateauneuf du Pape. This cuvee, which hit a remarkable 16% natural alcohol in 2011, is a muscular, full-throttle red that could easily be mistaken for a Chateauneuf du Pape. Meaty with lots of kirsch, earth, forest floor and black fruit characteristics, it should drink well for 5-6 years.
Domaine de la Janasse is one of the great winemaking estates of not only France, but of the world. It is situated adjacent to the Auto Route de Soleil opposite Chateauneuf du Pape, at the entrance to the village of Courthezon. Janasse is managed by Christophe Sabon and his sister, Isabelle. Although their father is technically retired, he is still a visible as well as spiritual presence at this superb estate. Janasse owns over 40 acres in Chateauneuf du Pape as well as significant holdings in the Cotes du Rhone appellations. The consistency at this estate since the mid-1990s has been remarkable. Year in and year out, the wines, both reds and whites, are among the finest one will find ... anywhere! 2011 is consistently a top vintage at Janasse, even though it is by no means a great vintage in the southern Rhone, and their prodigious 2010s compete with their remarkable array of 2007s and 2009s. First, the 2011s, a challenging year that depended on vignerons making strict selections, not only in the vineyard, but also on the triage tables. Sabon has certainly done that. Janasse’s white Chateauneuf du Papes are fascinating as Sabon is one of the last producers to still do a 100% malolactic fermentation and no filtration. 2010 rivals 2007 as the two greatest vintages I have ever tasted at Domaine de la Janasse (and I’ve been tasting their wines for over two decades).
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #204, Dec 2012