In the late 1990s, as the quality of one of the northern Rhone's most well-known negociant firms, Paul Jaboulet-Aine, was beginning to decline, the quality of Delas Freres was soaring, and they are now one of the three top negociant firms in the Rhone Valley. Delas Freres has been the property of Champagne Deutz since 1996, and belongs to the same owners as Champagne Louis Roederer. The owners as well as the Directeur Technique, the brilliant Jacques Grange, and winemaker Jean-Francois Farinet deserve credit for the rise in quality at this operation. The Delas Freres wines continue to go from strength to strength, and while I believe the Jaboulet wines will return to form under the new ownership, Delas Freres is already there. The current portfolio includes strong 2006s and very good 2007s. As long-time readers know, there is a hierarchy to the Delas wines from Crozes-Hermitage, St.-Joseph, Hermitage, and Cote Rotie. The finest values come from Crozes-Hermitage (especially their lower level cuvees, Les Launes and Domaine des Grands Chemins), and from St.-Joseph (Les Challeys). The quality jumps dramatically with the Crozes-Hermitage Le Clos, St.-Joseph Francois de Tournon, and the luxury cuvee, the St.-Joseph Ste.-Epine. In top vintages, there are two offerings from Cote Rotie, the single vineyard La Landonne and the Seigneur de Maugiron. Both cuvees were produced in 2006, but only the Seigneur de Maugiron was made in 2007 (because of the hail storm that destroyed a large percentage of the crop in Cote Rotie). Delas Freres owns 25 acres in Hermitage, from which they produce two cuvees, with Les Bessards only made in the top vintages. "
Delas Hermitage Les Bessards 2006
Syrah/Shiraz from Hermitage, Rhone, France
This unique cuvée illustrates the enormous potential of this incomparable vineyard. The wine has a deep red color. The nose is aromatic with scents of berries, currants and violets. Les Bessards is rich in the mouth with bold, yet silky tannins and concentrated black cherry/plum fruit. It's an exceptional wine with a firm structure that will benefit from long cellaring.
The Wine Advocate - "The limited production blockbuster 2006 Hermitage Les Bessards is exquisite. Opaque inky/purple-colored with a stunning perfume of white chocolate, creme de cassis, incense, and camphor, this 2006 possesses fabulous fruit, full-bodied power, awesome concentration, and sweet, noble tannins. A classic in the making, it will be drinkable in 8-10 years, and should keep for half a century.
Wine Spectator - "Plush and smoky, with bacon, braised fig, tobacco and loam notes wrapped around a core of crushed black currant fruit. Shows some muscle on the finish, with sanguine and coffee notes weaving in and out. Drink now through 2018. 157 cases imported. "
International Wine Cellar - "Inky purple. Intensely perfumed nose displays a seductive bouquet of candied red and dark berries, kirsch, violet and minerals, plus a strong jolt of smoked meat. Spherical dark fruit flavors stain the palate, showing no rough edges and a slow-mounting floral pastille quality. Fresh, nervy and precise, with excellent finishing lift and precision. Manages to be powerful and graceful at the same time."
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Delas Freres Winery
Founded over 160 years ago, Delas Frères was acquired by Champagne Deutz in 1977.
Delas Frères cultivates vineyards on the steep granite slopes of the northern Rhône, in some of the region's most prestigious appellations. Additional grapes are supplied through long-term agreements with southern Rhone growers dedicated to providing only top quality grapes.
Crafted by winemaker Jacques Grange to epitomize finesse and elegance, recent Delas Frères vintages from the vineyards of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Côte Rôtie, Condrieu, Côtes-du-Rhône and Côtes-du-Ventoux have won renewed praise for their intensity of flavor and excellent value. View all Delas Freres Wines
About HermitageView a map of Hermitage wineries (EHR-me-tahj) and Crozés-Hermitage (krohz EHR-me-tahj)
Notable FactsSyrah is the only varietal permitted in the red wines, while whites are typically blends of both Marsanne and Roussanne. All three varieties grow on the Hermitage hill. The red wines of Hermitage are powerful, age-worthy wines, often commanding prices similar to those of top Bordeaux. They are big in fruit and tight in tannins, but with a few years of age (from three years to three decades) they are beautifully complex, perfumed and sensuous. Their whites are somewhat mineral-driven, and depending on the blend, may have an almost oily texture (in a good way!).
Like the island of Manhattan, once all the land of Hermitage is gone, the land is gone – hard to create sprawl from an already established hill. So winemakers planted in the vineyards surrounding Hermitage, in the much larger and flatter appellation of Crozés-Hermitage. The area produces wines of the same make-up of Hermitage – reds from Syrah, whites from Marsanne and Roussanne. Red wines are allowed up to 15% of the white varieties. Some of the reds are full of fruit flavor and ready to drink now, while others are trying to follow Hermitage, by making wines with lots of power and longevity. The whites are few, but enjoyable with good fruit and the same texture of those from Hermitage.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.