2014 Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Rhône
91-93/100 Josh Raynolds, Vinous
Jeb Dunnuck - 30/12/2016
About this WINE
Paul Jaboulet Aîné are iconic in the Rhône. Founded in 1834 by Antoine Jaboulet (father of Paul), it was Paul’s son, Louis and grandson, Gérard who can be heralded among the great ambassadors for both the region and the négociant. Upon Gérard’s untimely death in 1997, the business began struggling and was sold to the Frey family in 2005.
Jacques and Nicolas Frey are involved in the daily running of the Maison Jaboulet, while Caroline Frey has been at the helm of winemaking since 2006. She immediately began converting the estate to sustainable farming and they were certified organic in 2016. In 2022, Jean-Guillaume Prats, of Bordeaux fame, was brought onboard. You might notice two of the domaine’s top wines – La Chapelle Rouge and Chevalier de Stérimberg – are absent from our offer. This was not an oversight – these will be released via “La Place de Bordeaux” in September, so please do watch out for those later in the year.
Crôzes-Hermitage is the largest AC in the Northern Rhône, producing 10 times the volume of Hermitage and over half of the Northern Rhône’s total production. The appellation was created in 1937 with the single commune of Crozes, which is situated northeast of the hill of Hermitage. Wines are now produced from 11 different communes.Its vineyards surround the hill of Hermitage on equally hilly terrain where richer soils produce wines that are softer and fruitier, with a more forward style. The Syrah variety is used, but legally Marsanne and Roussanne can be added to the blend (up to 15 percent). In the north, the commune of Gervans is similar to Les Bessards in Hermitage, with granite soil producing tannic reds that need time to evolve.
While in Larnage, in the south, the heavy clay soils give the wine breadth and depth (albeit they can sometimes be flabby), the soils to the east of river on higher ground comprise stony, sandy and clay limestone, making them ideal for the production of white wines.
The best reds are produced on the plateaus of Les Chassis and Les Sept Chenin, which straddles the infamous N7 road to the south of Tain. Here the land is covered with cailloux roulés, which resemble the small pudding stones fond in Châteauneuf.
The wines can vary hugely in quality and style, and the majority of the reds tend to be fairly light. Many of the wines are made by a variation of the macération carbonique technique, bottled no later than one year after the vinification. The best producers, however, use traditional fermentation techniques.
There are small amounts of white wine made from Marsanne and Roussanne, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the appellation. The finest whites are produced from around Mercurol.
Recommended producers: Paul Jaboulet, Chapoutier, Colombier, Ferraton
Best vintages: 2006, 2005, 2004, 1999, 1995, 1990, 1989, 1988,
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
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Paul Jaboulet Aîné produces some of the world's greatest wines in the Rhone with Hermitage La Chapelle being its most famous offering. Their hugely popular Crozes Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert from a 45 hectare plot in one of the best parts of the appellation.
Thalabert has become synonymous with great value, age-worthy wines that are superior to most growers’ Hermitages. This is an incredibly well made and high quality wine at an almost criminally low price.
For many years Jaboulet was run by Gérard Jaboulet, who was one of the great ambassadors for Rhône wines, tirelessly travelling the world and promoting the virtues of Hermitage. He died suddenly in 1997 and the firm was then run by Philippe & Jacques Jaboulet, until 2006 when the real-estate entrepreneur Jean- Jacques Frey purchased the company.
The Frey family has large holdings in the Champagne house Billecart-Salmon and also owns Château La Lagune in Bordeaux so their credentials for taking over this illustrious estate could hardly be better.
Jacques and Nicolas Frey are now involved in the day-to-day running of Maison Jaboulet, while Caroline Frey, the eldest daughter, is at the helm of the wine-making team that also draws on the expertise of well-known wine consultant Denis Dubordieu. Under Caroline’s leadership, in 2006, the vineyards earned Sustainable Farming status and winegrowing is on course for conversion to biodynamic certification.
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