Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone 2003
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”.
Typically thought of as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the term Côtes du Rhone actually doesn’t merely apply to the flatter outskirts of the major southern Rhône appellations, it also includes the fringes of well-respected northern Rhône appellations. White can be produced under the appellation name, but very little is actually made.
The region offers some of the best values in France and even some first-rate and age-worthy reds. Red varieties include most of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape varieties like Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Counoise, as well as Carignan. White grapes grown include Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, among others.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
Tasting Notes for Rhône Blends
A Rhône blend is a dry, red wine and will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Perfect Food Pairings for Rhône Blends
Rhône Blends work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Sommelier Secrets for Rhône Blends
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.