La Nerthe can trace its history back to 1561 making it one of the oldest estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The 90 hectares (225 acres) of Château La Nerthe are certified as “Organic growing” from 1998 by Ecocert – the French organisation of organic certification.
In recent times, the purchase of the estate by the Ricard family in 1985 has allowed the true potential of this fine property to be realised. Since 2008 wine maker Christian Voeux has been in charge of production with the emphasis on modern, approachable Châteauneuf.
The grape varieties used at La Nerthe are: Grenache 53 %, Syrah 27 %, Mourvèdre 15 % and Cinsault 5 %, from vines with an average age of 40 years.
Traditional fermentation in cement tanks is followed by 12 months ageing in a mixture of oak barriques and much larger foudre.
Garnet red in appearance, the nose is red and black fruits with spice and leather – a really “warm” nose.
The palate is all spicy dark fruits with pepper and fine tannins.
The Sabon estate has 16 hectares of vineyards in some of the best sites of Châteauneuf – Les Cabrières, La Crau, Courthezon and Nalys, all with the “galets roulés” stones so typical of the area. The vines have a minimum age of 50 years, with 90-year-old vines being used for the Cuvée Prestige.
The wine making is today handled by Didier Negron, the son-in- law of the late Jean Jacques Sabon. The vineyards are managed by Jean Jacque’s brother Denis and his son Julien.
The fermentation takes place in small cement vats and small stainless steel cuves, with pumping over and a cuvaison which lasts for 20 days at a temperature of between 30° and 34°.
The wine is matured for between 16 and 18 months in foudres (4,000 litre) and used barriques, and receives neither fining nor filtration.
Grenache is the predominant grape blended with a range of other red grapes typical of the appelation – Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Terret, Counoise, Vaccarese and Muscardin.
Deep and brooding, this very complex wine has aromas and flavours of ripe red and black fruit, spices (cloves and pepper), mushrooms, and with age, truffles and old leather.
Michel Maret has now been joined by his two daughters, Véronique, helping with the wine making, and Caroline, running the office with Madame Maret.
Domaine de la Charbonnière has 12 hectares of prime vineyard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 4.5 in Vacqueyras – this is a serious, established, top quality Domaine.
The Cuvée Hautes Brusquières is made up of 40% Syrah and 60% Grenache, all from the Brusquière plateau, from vines aged between 30 – 50 years old.
The two varieties are vinified separately with the fermentation lasting up to 5 weeks in temperature controlled vats. The cap is punched down every other day and the wine is pumped over every day to maximise extraction and elegance in the finished wine.
Ageing is in large oak vats for up to 18 months.
The wine has a good deep red colour, with a nose full of ripe black and blue fruits and notes of spice, pepper and leather. The palate is full and powerful with gentle tannins, and ripe, zippy, pepper and fruit flavours.
Yves Cuilleron took over the reins as the 4th generation vigneron of this top domaine in 1987. He is based in Chavanay, just south of Condrieu, and has built up a formidable reputation in recent years. He now owns and leases over 75 hectares, 8 of which are in Côte-Rôtie.
The steeply terraced nature of the vineyards is such that all work must be done manually. This is very labour intensive but reflects the Domaine’s policy of ensuring that the vines produce the finest fruit possible.
Careful control of the vines vegetative cycle is exercised to maintain quality; a “green” harvest takes place in August to provide the vines with maximum aeration and reduce the risk of disease. Great respect is paid to the soil balance – no insecticides are used and only organic fertilizer, applied sparingly, is used.
For decades, the estate has focused on traditional and simple winemaking. A manual harvest, a careful sorting of the grapes, an alcoholic fermentation made solely from natural yeasts and ageing in wood are the main ingredients of the Cuilleron method.
Yves Cuilleron‘s approach to winemaking is “Make it as simple as possible”. For his reds he ferments in open vats for 3 weeks with pigeage (punching down the “cap”) and regular pumping over followed by ageing in a mix of new and old wood for 18 months.
This wine is from 4 ha of vineyards facing South / South-East, located in the north of the appellation. “Madinière” comes from the name of the stream located at the bottom of the hill.
100% Syrah. Dark in the glass, the nose is full of spice and pepper with soft wood tannins in the background. The palate is round and fleshy with soft tannins and fresh acidity giving the wines length and elegance.
“La Chapelle” is named after the little chapel of Saint-Christophe that sits high up on the hill above Tain overlooking the terraced vineyards of the l’Hermitage. Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné has been the sole owner of this site since 1919.
100% Syrah from old vines (40-60 years). The yields are very low (10 – 15 hectolitres / hectare). The grapes are brought down from the slopes of l’Hermitage on small sledges, after which they were sorted by hand and vinified traditionally in Jaboulet’s winery.
The wine was aged in wood for 15 months.
1994 was a mixed year – a wet and cold spring was followed by a hot summer. August was spotted with showers right up to the harvest. The rain spoilt what might have been a great vintage, but the grapes had a hard, thick skin, thanks to the hot summer, which allowed Jaboulet to make some fine wines.
Dark ruby in appearance with a touch of brown on the rim. The nose is full of red fruit, cherry and spice aromas with a hint of earthiness and leather. The palate is opulent with red fruits, spice and earth supported by firm tannins and fresh acidity. The finish is long with a hint of sweetness.
A rare chance to taste this fine old classic.
Copyright 2014 | Richard Granger Fine Wine Merchants