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News

Caroline Frey: a committed vinous eco-warrior

I always pop into Château La Lagune when I am tasting Bordeaux for my annual En Primeur Report. It is a joy to taste the wine and also spend a few minutes chatting with the owner, winemaker Caroline Frey. This year I fired across an email to her asking if, while tasting her famous Bordeaux, I could have a look at the wines she makes from her other estates. I had no idea that my usual 15-minute meeting would turn into one of the most memorable two hours I have spent in my entire wine life.

Caroline is a committed and dynamic vinous eco-warrior. Her vineyards, which her father Jean Jacques Frey acquired, are ultra-holistically farmed with care, and attention taken in every corner and beyond to the local flora and fauna. She was recently awarded the insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite for her work in agriculture, viticulture and the environment, as well as the protection of indigenous and migrant species of birds. In her various properties she has all but finished her transition of these vineyards to organic viticulture. All her Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage vineyards at Paul Jaboulet Aîné, her mighty estate in the Northern Rhône, are farmed biodynamically. The changes have taken the taste of her many wines to a level never before experienced at these estates.

It’s all about the taste

In addition to looking at the 2017 La Lagune barrel sample, which shimmered with stunningly pure cabernet fruit, Caroline also showed me a suite of her devastating new Burgundies. Her 2015 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru was a model of noble exuberance balanced with devastating minerality and acidity – a running theme in every single wine in her portfolio. Four inaugural vintage 2015 reds showed amazing vitality – a village Volnay; a village Pommard; a Premier Cru called Aloxe-Corton, Les Petits Lolières; and a Grand Cru, Corton, Le Clos du Château Monopole, all paraded precision, lightness of touch and true pinot noir character, which has so often been besmirched and confused in recent years.

I moved on to the Jaboulet range and I was not prepared for the precision and tension which each and every wine showed in the glass. While this estate is, understandably and historically, world famous, the production of many of their wines is minuscule. Only a handful of barrels from each stellar plot are made annually, but they all shine with remarkable individuality and intent. I have written up my tasting in full detail on my website, but suffice to say that, having been privileged to taste both the legendary 1961 and 1978 vintages of the pinnacle Jaboulet wine, Hermitage La Chapelle, I can tell you that the 2016 release (only a 2,800-case production) is a perfect 20/20 in my notes and it is the finest expression of this vineyard I have ever seen.

So far so epic. As we finished our tasting, I asked Caroline what she does to relax, not expecting her to have any time left in the day. Perhaps I should have guessed the answer – she runs up and down mountains, marathon-style! Take a peek at her Instagram account, which shows Condé Nast Traveller-quality pics from the peaks of every conceivable mountaintop in the Alps. 

 

New ventures

In 2015 her Swiss mountain-running coach told her that he might know of a few small plots of vines that she might fancy in her favourite Valais region of Switzerland. She bought a tiny 2,000 sq m plot of vines in 2015, and I was excited to taste her first production wine from the 2016 vintage. Entitled, Les Grains Blancs de Mon Jardin Secret, this wine is a secret no longer.  Only a handful of people have ever tasted this wine, not least because she only made 500 bottles.

This vineyard and its sublime white wine represent her personal tension-decompression-vehicle. She works the land herself, she picks the grapes herself and makes the wine herself as a therapy to enable her to confront the world with her other stellar, world-famous brands. 

In 2017, she made just 50 litres of wine using her favourite grape variety, petite arvine, and while I have yet to taste this offering, the joy and electricity this personal project has given her is, clearly, what lights up her passion and energy for driving her other estates so hard in search of the purist expression of their hallowed vineyard sites.

 

How to buy

Search for Jaboulet online and you will find that her first-rung wine is available on the high street for under ten pounds. Then climb this ladder via the others to the pinnacle, which only the privileged can afford, and see that integrity, expression and clarity is available at every step. 

One final thought – is there anyone else in the world who makes elite Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhône wines, let alone Swiss wines, too?  The answer is, of course, no. It has taken a young lady, with the health of the planet at the forefront of her mind, to crack this impossible challenge.

 

 

For Domaines Jaboulet the 2008 Vintage has been THE MOST DEMANDING vintage ever: the weather conditions have compelled us to exercise exceptional precision in vine cultivation, but also great responsiveness.
As the early summer was not very sunny, the ripening of the grapes was held up significantly. In early September, torrential rainfalls disrupted the harvest. We then acted to deal with this highly unusual situation. In order to rescue the healthy, mature grapes, we carried out selective sorting of vineyards. So a large proportion of the harvest was sacrificed.


The harvest began on 10th September with the Croze Hermitage whites in the Sylvia plot. Rigorous sorting was undertaken so as to ensure that only the very best mature and healthy grapes made it into our winery. 
As we do each year, we ended this year’s harvest with the Domaine de Saint Pierre (Cornas) grapes, picked on 10th October at the same time as the Domaine de Roure (Crozes Hermitage).


In addition to sorting in the vineyard, at the winery a team of 25 people were arranged around 4 sorting tables. Then, after stemming, two vibrating tables allowed us to eliminate the remaining stalks and pinkish grapes.
The demanding work in the vineyards and the managerial precision required of the wine-making process for this complicated vintage has produced low yields. However, the gustatory goal has been achieved: concentrated and highly-coloured wines with fine, persistent tannins. The density of the vintage resides in its rich, meaty character. Ultimately very non-acidic, these are balanced wines that are surely destined to resemble those of the 2001 vintage.
 

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History

For nearly two hundred years, the hillsides of Hermitage have jealously guarded the secret of a meeting that was to be the start of an extraordinary story… In 1834, Antoine Jaboulet (1807 - 1864) started working the land in this region thereby linking his destiny with that of this fertile terroir. By dint of hard work and passion, his vines were to provide him with a wine of exceptional quality, to be perpetuated by his sons, Paul and Henri. It was Paul who then gave his name to the business. Since then, the generations have continued to succeed one another. The Frey family, longstanding winemakers in Champagne and owners of Château La Lagune in Bordeaux, acquired Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné in January 2006, thus adding to its portfolio of prestigious names. Frédéric Jaboulet shares the Frey family’s passion for excellence. La Chapelle, which is situated on the hillside of l’Hermitage, looks out over the Rhône Valley. During the 13th century, the Chevalier de Stérimberg made it his home on his return from the crusades. Later still, it became the source of the family’s flagship wine, l’Hermitage La Chapelle. The 1961 vintage would be classed among the Twelve mythical bottles of the 20th century, and a small number of bottles and magnums are still kept by Jaboulet and in a few cellars elsewhere in the world…

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Vineyards

For nearly two centuries, Jaboulet has been producing wines that represent generations of hard work and a passion for excellence. In order to perpetuate these values, Jaboulet adheres to an unswerving commitment to improving vineyards, through strategic acquisitions and work in the cellars, while respecting the environment at the same time. A great wine is born from the vine The company’s hundred or so hectares of vineyards are tended with the greatest possible care. In the northern estates of the Côtes du Rhône, the wide diversity of terroirs and the influence of micro-climates favours the production of Syrah. This is the principle variety, and the sole red grape, grown by Paul Jaboulet Aîné, while Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier are used for the white wines. This provides the wines of each appellation with a well-defined personality.

 

Paul Jaboulet Aîné favours traditional vineyard husbandry. Yields are restricted to between 25 and 35 hectolitres per hectare from vines that are on average 40 years old, with the most illustrious being nearly 80 years old. Canopy management, crop thinning, pruning and harvesting are all carried out by hand. Ancestral methods such as the use of hand winches and stake training of vines are still used, all of which requires a skilled, experienced workforce. When they have reached optimal maturity, the grapes are hand-harvested into 20kg crates to keep them in as good condition as possible. The company is currently undergoing sustainable agriculture qualification, which restricts the use of herbicides in the soil, favours organic fertilisers to encourage the development of micro-organisms, and allows the vines to thrust their roots deep into the ground. The vines consequently benefit from the natural and varied nourishment of the soil.

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Winemaking

This background means that the Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné winemaking team must work tirelessly, using the ancestral methods of the past to move into the future. Respecting the fruit in order to achieve perfection The quality of the grapes is of the utmost importance for creating great wines. They are hand-harvested when they have reached optimum maturity. The hand-picking is carried out scrupulously, and the grapes are placed into ventilated 20kg crates. The lengthy vinification process then reveals the wine’s character. The team, comprising in-house oenologists, in close collaboration with Caroline Frey and Denis Dubourdieu, taste and analyse the juice throughout this time, so as to ensure that exceptional wines are produced.

 

The company’s savoir-faire is combined with both tradition and modernity. When the red grapes arrive at the winery, they are sorted by hand, destemmed and crushed. Pre-fermentation maceration takes place in vat to encourage the development of the wine’s fruit aromas. Alcoholic fermentation then converts the sugar into alcohol and extracts the tannins and colour, so as to obtain a balanced structure in the mouth and a deep red colour. Malolactic fermentation then refines the aromas and structures. The wines are then blended, which is a decisive stage in creating great wines, and matured in 225-litre casks for between 12 and 24 months, depending on the vintage, in the renowned VINEUM caves. The white grapes are cold-pressed to ensure freshness, which will guarantee that the wines develop well over time. During malolactic fermentation, the lees are stirred by hand so as to obtain complex aromas. The wines then age in barrel until the beginning of summer. After bottling, the wine may also remain in our cellars for several more years before release.

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Inside information

The jewel in the Jaboulet collection has always been the legendary ‘La Chapelle’ Hermitage, a great red wine made purely from Syrah, which owes its name to the famous little Saint Christophe chapel, which overlooks the Hermitage vineyards. ‘La Chapelle’, which has been solely owned by Paul Jaboulet Aîné since 1919, is made by blending grapes from the best terroirs in the appellation (Méal, les Bessards, les Rocoules etc.). ‘La Chapelle’ Hermitage 1961 has been ranked among the twelve greatest wines of the 20th century and it racked up the third highest price ever recorded worldwide for a 12-bottle lot sold by Christie’s.

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14 different wines with 131 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Large 1971-vintage tasting with all the best wines.

8m 10d ago

 Richard Hemming MW, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  31 wines 

Penfolds G5, Released on 1 November, final one of the 'g' trio. 2,200 bottles made. 2018 and 2016 (blended out of barrel), plus 2014, 2012 and 2010 (blended out of bottle). 70% Barossa. 97% Shiraz, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Finished in used oak.
Opened ten hours earlier. Intoxicating oak scent – drenched with coconut and vanilla. Lusciously fruited, of course, with a few degrees more subtlety than the Grange 2017. Brambles from start to finish, with not a thorn in sight. It is a marvel of blending, without any peppery character, but all the richness and history of Barossa Shiraz. Finishes with black liquorice.

8m 13d ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Inspired by James Bond – No Time to Die, we included Château Angelus 2003 (96p) in our Tour de France dinner. What a crowd pleaser. Rich and intense. In wonderful condition now but left no  doubt that this wine will evolve beautifully another 5-10 years. The aristocratic La Mission Haut-Brion 1998 (97p) shone on a par with Angelus, with its classic charming style. The joker of the eve, Stag's Leap Artemis 2014 (92p) served with aged hard cheeses was a true charmer with its dense finesse.

10m 19d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  29 wines 

1982 is an iconic vintage for Bordeaux, and for many wine lovers, it’s a reference point as a modern, ripe year that was delicious from the onset. The top wines are still holding up well and show no signs of fading. However, some of the lesser wines are starting to show its age. This ripe vintage has given us a wide drinking window, regardless of the specific appellation and terroir. For those that still have some top 1982 Bordeaux in your cellar, there is no rush to pull the cork. A long life ahead awaits these beauties.

10m 29d ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  19 wines 

2018 Penfolds BIN 98 Quantum Cabernet Sauvignon/ Ruby. Cassis, vanilla, spices, rich, deep, some floral high notes, deep and rich nose, intense. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dark fruits, anise, blackberries and spices, rich, intense and layered, quite a bit of wood, dense and long. 96

1y 2m ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Château Mouton Rothschild 2016 / Gorgeous, subtle, layered Mouton with delicate and detailed flavors that linger on the palate for a long time. The density of the tannins combine with wonderful freshness and layers of flavors that range from dark berries, savory spices to cedar and earth. A glorious Mouton that has stature and concentration without any heaviness. The blend is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The latter two varieties were co-fermented.


99 points

1y 5m ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  12 wines 

Henschke 1992 Hill of Grace  aus perfekter Lagerung war absolut großartig und erinnerte blind etwas an Heitz Martha´s Vineyard. Noch so jung und frisch mit großartiger, süßer, dunkler Frucht, sehr ätherisch mit reichlich Minze und Eukalyptus, exzellente Struktur mit guter Säure und toller Länge, aber auch weich und in perfekter Balance, in der alle Elemente zusammenpassten – WT99.

1y 5m ago

 Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  24 wines 

Gaja Sori Tildin 2017 / Coming from a warmer, south-facing site, the 2016 Barbaresco Sori Tildin is a more concentrated, vibrant wine compared to the straight Barbaresco and has vivid notes of bright cherry fruits, rose petals, road tar, violets and even a hint of orange blossom. Incredible on the palate, with medium to full body, an incredible, seamless texture, ultra-fine tannins, and a monster finish. The tannins here are unquestionably on another level and are perfectly ripe, and this just about off-the-charts 2016 has a Grand Cru Red Burgundy-like texture, elegance, and stature. This bottle didn't hit prime time until the second day, so either give bottles a healthy decant or, even better, 5-7 years in a cold cellar.

1y 7m ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  185 wines 

BWW2021 competition finals were filled with superb lineup of the world's greatest wines and superb finds from various price categories. The finals that were run in various blind tasting sessions, revealed many surprises. Most commonly, the fact that all the wines were so enjoyable already at this young stage, although many of them will deliver so much more after ageing of 10-15 years. Congratulations for all the winners!

1y 8m ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Paul Jaboulet & Âiné . In a tasting of  22 wines 

1964 Chateau Latour;Dark ruby, brick rim. B/C level fill, soaked cork. Liquorice, sweet tobacco, hay, some blackcurrants, gorgeous nose, some ripe tannins still, fresh acidity, quite intence, extremelly complex, almost at such a degree, that you can't decipher it all, perfect structure, truly impressive, and exceptionaly long finish. 96

1y 8m ago

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