2015 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge “Les Jalets” Northern Rhone, France.
One of the most iconic Syrah producers in the world, Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aine, known for their legendary La Chapelle vineyard on Hermitage hill near the famous little chapel which was built on this steep slope above the Rhone River to commemorate the crusading knights, named Hermitage after a hermit that used to live there, and of which is the spiritual home for this grape, makes some of the finest example of this varietal, like their classic Hermitage, as well as bargain versions like this Les Jalets Crozes-Hermitage. The 2015 Les Jalets Crozes-Hermitage Rouge by Jaboulet is a lovely perfumed and savory spiced Syrah with dark flavors and has a deep purple/garnet hue, made by the talented Caroline Frey, who has shown a remarkable gift with Syrah and who has a great group of people over seeing this property, did an amazing set of wines in this vintage. Under Caroline’s leadership, Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aine, since taking over in 2006 has earned Sustainable Farming status with her vineyards as Jaboulet’s winegrowing is moving toward full conversion to biodynamic certification, and the process and progress here has led to some incredible quality gains in her wines here. Frey has endless energy and she continues to explore her ambitions with projects in Switzerland and Burgundy that look set to intrigue, but these Northern Rhone wines remain close to her heart, and they show her personality and true nature of the terroirs, with this Crozes showing a fine sense of place.
Grown on classic gravel, sand, granite and hardened clay soils, this Les Jalets Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, 100% Syrah, from the warm 2015 vintage gives a pure and lengthy permanence in the glass, and while not up to the level of Frey’s top Crozes -Domaine de Thalabert, it offers a ton of character and pleasure for the price. Smooth tannins and ripe berry fruits lead the way in this medium full bodied Crozes-Hermitage adding violets, minty herbs, smoky camphor/grahite, anise and fills out on the palate with damson plum, currant and black cherry fruits along with cedar wood and an delicate earthy note that is somewhat hidden behind the vintage’s plush details. This 2015 Les Jalets, which is reasonably priced and easy to love is well worth searching out and joins Louis Barruol’s negotiant Northern Rhone series in being a polished and clean example, not the older rustic and gritty style that once defined the region, it shows clarity and a beautiful transparency, while not losing classic mineral, meaty and soulful elements that make Syrah, Syrah. This wine is highly enjoyable and quaffable, it certainly highlights the vintage’s gift in the Rhone and it is wonderful with an array of cuisine choices from pepper crusted seared Ahi to hearty winter inspired meat stews, as well as lamb and roast poultry. I tasted through Frey’s Jaboulet 2015’s and found them wonderfully compelling wines, especially of course the set of Hermitage, including the majestic La Chapelle, which was as stunning in its youth as it just starts to evolve and her lineup of Crozes, like this one that over delivers for the money, these will only get better still and drink for years to come.
($26 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive