Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Pressed flowers, black cherries and dark chocolate all appear on the nose of the 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes. Tasted from magnum, this is an impressively full-bodied, rich, velvety wine, with a long, mouthwatering finish and no trace of the reported 16+% alcohol. It should drink well through at least the end of this decade. Best after 2015
Domaine de la Janasse has quickly become one of the Superstar estates of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Led by the dynamic Christophe Sabon, the estate combines the best of both traditional and modern techniques to craft a collection of truly riveting wines from “simple” value-priced VDP’s to benchmark Chateauneufs.
The estate was founded in 1976 by Aimé Sabon, Christophe’s father, who still oversees the vineyards and farms organically. The property consists of 40 Hectares, spread over as many as 70 different parcels throughout the appellation.
While Aime works in the vineyards, his son, Christophe Sabon, is in charge of wine production. Christophe is a self-proclaimed “great defender of Grenache,” which still represents 75% of their vines. He manages the common rusticity of Grenache-based wines through meticulous work in the vineyards and cellar. The result is a wide range of lavishly ripe, extracted Chateauneuf-du-Papes and Cotes-du-Rhônes that are complex and yet balanced with acidity -- often in contradiction to an appellation better known for sheer exuberance and power. As Robert Parker points out: “The young and talented Christophe Sabon continues to display the sure-handed touch of a veteran winemaker”.
Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics reminiscent of black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhône River Valley. Large pebbles resembling river rocks, called "galets" in French, dominate most of the terrain. The stones hold heat and reflect it back up to the low-lying gobelet-trained vines. Though the galets are typical, they are not prominent in every vineyard. Chateau Rayas is the most obvious deviation with very sandy soil.
According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.
Only about 6-7% of wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape is white wine. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance.
The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. The lore says that after moving in 1309, Pope Clément V (after whom Chateau Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan is named) ordered that vines were planted. But it was actually his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as "the pope's new castle," didn’t really stick until the 19th century.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.