2013 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Terre d'Argile, Domaine de la Janasse
About this WINE
Domaine de la Janasse
Brother-and-sister team Christophe and Isabelle Sabon continue to work wonders at Janasse – a domaine founded by their father, Aimé Sabon, in 1973. They now farm around 90 hectares, 18 of which are in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. These are dotted across numerous plots in the northeast of the appellation, in the commune of Courthézon, where the soils are more sandy and therefore much cooler. They also have a few parcels on the famous, clay soil plateau of La Crau. The grapes are largely de-stemmed; concrete tanks are used for the Grenache and old oak for the Syrah and Mourvèdre. In other words, everything is fairly traditional. While they have been farming largely in accordance with organic principles for years, they are now undergoing full conversion to organic and expect to gain certification in 2024.
The domaine sadly suffered terribly from frost in 2021, reducing their output by 45% (and up to 80% for their Vin de Pays wines) – it is the siblings’ smallest vintage yet. They are however pleased with the quality, and they highlight its concentration and freshness.
Côtes du Rhône
The Côtes du Rhône is a large wine appellation in France’s Rhône Valley. Producers here are permitted to make red, white and rosé wine, though red wines account for the majority of the production overall.
While technically the Côtes du Rhône covers both the Northern and Southern Rhône winegrowing areas, most of the production comes from the south. For red wines, Grenache is the most popular grape variety. It is often blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre – the three combined form the so-called GSM blend.
Southern Rhône Blend
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.
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This wine is sourced from vines just to the north of Courthézon and located literally a pudding stone’s throw away from Châteauneuf-du-Pape itself. As the name suggests there is a significant swathe of red clay in the vineyards, the encépagement of which is shared equally between Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. The wine marries spicy and savoury notes with very pure and ripe, dark-fruit characteristics.
Simon Field MW - Rhône Buyer
Christophe Sabon took us on the most fascinating vineyard tour in October 2014, underlining once again why he is held in such esteem in the appellation, and why Janasse make such widely praised wines across the spectrum. His sister, Isabelle, who operates the commercial side of the business, places 2013 stylistically between 2010 and 2011; she advises that the wines are a little more powerful than 2011 and perhaps a little rounder than 2010. Praise indeed, but a commentary that seems to be justified by the wines themselves. Still in barrel, the 2013 Côtes du Rhône Villages Terre d’Argile offers sweet cassis, ground herbs and spice in its medium-bodied, balanced and elegant personality. It has good concentration and depth, and will drink well on release. There was no Les Garrigues produced in the vintage.
Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate Issue#215 Oct 2014
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