Apr

5

2007 Rhone revisited

By mthomas

Having Brighton and Hove Albion season tickets for myself and youngest son, means we go down to Sussex every few weeks for a match. The Amex stadium is a wonderful ground set in the South Downs opposite Sussex University and Brighton, under inspirational Manager Gus Poyet, are playing lovely football. Having supported Albion through rough times, including the end of the Goldstone Ground, near extinction and wilderness years at Withdean Stadium it is great to see them winning matches in the Championship and still dreaming of Premiership football (although it is always good to be careful what you wish for as there is so much that is good about the Championship and a lot of downsides to playing in the top tier).

My mum, who lives outside Lewes, was one of many who opposed the planning application and although I was sympathetic to the arguments against it, my selfish desire for my team to have a decent ground won out over greener concerns. It really is a stunning venue and even visiting supporters rate it highly on fan sites. With beer from Harveys and Dark Star as well as pies by Piglet’s Pantry we are well catered for. There is lots of space around the stadium so no mad crushes getting in, great acoustics and comfy padded seats. No wonder we have loads of season ticket holders and are getting the highest attendance figures in the Championship (regularly 28,000 plus).

So how does a 2007 Southern Rhone fit in to this football soliloquy? Whenever we are down for a match we visit family and friends who always seem to have fantastic foraged food, game or homegrown veg. Recently I came back with some wild venison which stimulated a 2007 Rhone tasting as I was conscious I have a few that are probably peaking. It was a difficult but decent year, (especially when compared to Bordeaux) but is surrounded by the excellent 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 vintages which tend to overshadow it. Forget about the 08s…

Chateauneuf-du-pape, Domaine de la Roquette 2007

This is designed to be more approachable than it’s famous sibling Vieux Telegraphe (which was great in 2007 but still needs years to peak). This was the third bottle I have tried over the last 18 months and I was surprised how quickly it seems to be fading. Perfectly drinkable but lacking the subtlety and the complexity I had hoped it might develop. Dark fruit, alcohol and a bit of spice. I could buy something cheaper from more recent vintages that would knock spots off it. Maybe it is in an awkward, slightly closed, stage?

Domaine de l’Ameillaud Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne 2007

Cairanne is often pretty humble stuff but this showed some nice garrigue notes which worked with the venison. Made with a deft touch by Nick Thompson everything was nicely integrated and balanced. I am not sure I would leave this hanging around if I had any left. I’m sure it might last but it is hard to see it gaining anything and it is really enjoyable now.

Côtes du Rhône Villages Secret de Famille, Paul Jaboulet 2007

Jacques Desvernois sourced Syrah from Dauzaman in the Gard to make this for the Wine Society. Some Grenache was added (10%) and this has proved to be a wise decision as it definitely adds another dimension to it. More than capable of another couple of years but I wouldn’t go past 2015. Nice purple showing some age, sweet and spicy. A good affordable effort from classy stable.

Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2007

I love this wine in most vintages. The Mourvedre in the GSM blend is key. It often disappoints on opening but left to its own devices for an hour (or two), preferably in the open air, it starts to morph into something slightly animal. Crunchy when young this is well into its stride but shows no sign of fading. The brothers Brunier seem to take more risks, or exercise less control, with this wine than Roquette above. I am probably the one per cent that would rank this higher if I was forced to give scores.

Feb

6

Jaboulet Crozes Hermitage 2004

By mthomas

01012009001 I managed to bluetooth this pic from my new  phone. I am not a great photographer or a  technophile so am pleased the experiment worked  and will use this approach in future (and hopefully  refine my  photography). I would like to blog more  frequently  and guess the key to this will be  improving my use  of ICT so that I am more  adept. I  often don’t blog  on tastings and research papers because of time constraints. I am also keen that it does not become a blog about mundanities of my life or an ego trip along the line of some of blogs out there…

I opened a bottle of Jaboulet Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2004 to accompany a double rack of lamb (badly butchered by me from a lamb swapped with the farmer for a sack of scallops – long story). It was really aromatic and full of herbs (rosemary) and spices that worked really well with the meat. Some slightly woody and eucalyptus notes eased off as it opened up and the 100% Syrah fruitiness shone through. I think the 04s are really good at the moment and offer a lot of value. The Rhone has produced good wine in just about every year (apart from the catastrophic 2002) since the late 90s and you can do a lot worse than the 04s until the 01s and 05s are ready to drink. Even better, pick up some bargain 98s and 99s that have mellowed over the last decade.

“The Crozes Hermitage vineyard is the largest of all the northern Rhône Valley Appellations. It extends over 11 communes situated in the Drôme, on the left bank of the Rhône. The Domaine de Thalabert has belonged to the Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné since 1834. It is situated on the plain, and is the oldest in the Appellation”  For more about their wines and the Rhone have a look at their website which is well-organised and informative.