Thursday, 2 January 2014

Paul Jaboulet, Les Jumelles, 1997 Cote-Rotie

Christmas is a time to enjoy oneself. We all indulge in guilty pleasures and some of us over-indulge. My extravagances this year were a few choice bottles of wine, some from my cellar that I have waiting to try, and others acquired from merchants or auctions, just because it's Christmas! Of course there were bubbles, the Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV was tasty. There were a couple of lovely burgundy whites, a Chablis 1er Cru and a Pouilly-Fuisse. Also, a good, but mildly disappointing (I think I built it up too much), Bodegas Muga Reserva, 2006 Seleccion Especial.

The Christmas wine I want to extol now however, is one I picked up at auction. A couple of months ago I placed a speculative bid on a pair of 1997 Cote-Roties (Les Jumelles) by Paul Jaboulet. Considering the following: An okay vintage, a good producer, a great region and a good level of bottle age (reliably well cellared), I expected my measly, but not ridiculous, punt to be out-bid easily. I placed my wager a good month before the close of play, thinking that it would be a nice treat in time for Christmas, but I thought I may have to up the stake at some point. As it happened, I forgot about it completely, and was surprised when 24h before the end of the auction I received a notification that I still held the winning bid. I think only one other person was bidding, and my maximum initial bid hadn't been reached yet either. By the time the auction had finished there were no more bids and I won the lot at a very reasonable price, including shipping.

Getting down to it then, The wines were delivered sharpish and in great condition (the seller will be getting a great review!). They rested in my cellar for a few weeks, before I prepared one in advance of drinking it alongside a post-Christmas roast dinner. I decanted it, there was a vast amount of sediments, and although this was not unexpected, I lost about 100ml at the end of the bottle. I had a quick sip straight away, and the wine seemed a little musty and oxidised. Nutty and farmyard-like aromas were at the fore on the nose, but the palate seemed fine, if a little resisting. The wine didn't seem off/corked but I was a little worried that it may be way past it's best, in terms of age! I left it alone while the roast dinner was sorted. This meant I came back to it about 2 hours later, and what a difference time can make...

So, now in the glass, the wine had a lovely light ruby colour with a level of garnet to it that belied it's age. It was actually quite translucent and seemed thin. It swirled with ease, all suggesting medium to light body. After time to air and breathe, the nose had become wonderfully full, rich and round. Multiple layers revealed themselves each time I went back and stuck my nose in! I'll describe everything as I wrote it down, this should best convey the journey of discovery described by my scribbled notes. The age was obvious at first, the woody aromas from the oak seemed old but rich and the nuttiness of before melded alongside tobacco. There was a whisper of smoke and a little spice too. Next came surprisingly sweet red fruit, almost floral, strawberry and raspberry combined with red cherry. After a while the fruit seemed to become a little like charred cassis, reminiscent of classic Bordeaux. I think this may have been because there was also something a little green about it, along with a hint of mint. The last thing I picked-up on was a savoury, almost salty, edge that made me think of pork, even bacon.

It took me quite a while to get on to actually tasting this wine. I sometimes find smelling a wine brings greater joy than drinking it. Now I haven't tasted an aged Cote-Rotie like this before. I think I've maybe only ever had one previously and it wouldn't have been old nor expensive. I didn't really know what to expect, but my first thought was, "that is nothing like an Ozzy Shiraz!". At first, it was sweet with refreshing, medium acidity. The tannins present were soft, smooth and mellow, not at all gripping. Another sign of age I guess. The lighter red fruits I got on the nose came though on the mid palate, alongside a light spice/pepper. This wine was seriously easy to drink. I rolled it around a fair amount before swallowing. The finish was not the longest I've experiencd, but was plenty long enough. Again the wine was so refreshing and made me want to drink more. There was, perhaps, only one issue, which was a slight hint of what I think was VA (the taste of vinegar). It didn't detract from the experience and was probably just another sign of old age.

To quote Hannibal Smith: "I love it when a plan comes together". My speculative punt on this old wine had indeed provided a lovely Christmas treat. This was a really complex old-timer, which is starting to show it's age and may not have long left. However, it was such a well made wine that all the usual descriptors have to be applied. It was well structured and balanced, with acidity, tannin, fruit and age all beautifully integrated together. I may very well be naive to give this wine high praise, after all I haven't tried many wines of 'real quality', but I don't really care. I'm very glad I have another one in the cellar, I don't think it will take me long to find an excuse to drink it!

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