Wednesday Wines – Episode 91 – A Preview of Caroline Frey’s Portfolio of New Releases

Episode 91 – A Preview of Caroline Frey’s Portfolio of New Releases

Valais, Paul Jaboulet Aîné & Château Corton C

Valais

2019 Les Grains Blanc de mon Jardin Secret, Valais, Switzerland

This is a tremendously complex Chasselas with meadow-flower and wild honey notes on the nose and a controlled, sleek palate.  Overall, Les Grain Blanc is shaped like a white Burgundy, but it sits in a flavour zone all of its own.  There is no doubt that it will age well given its commanding acidity, but it looks superb already.  So, if you are lucky enough to track down a bottle, dive in for a unique experience.  18+/20 (Drink now – 2025)

Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Rhône

White

2019 Petite Arvine, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Vin de France

Powerful, muscular, raspy and dry, this is a bigger-framed wine than expected with a Roussanne-like perfume but a weightier and more exotic mid-palate.  It needs a little more time to reconcile the acid on the finish, but this is a fascinating interpretation of this little-known white grape.  17+/20 (Drink now – 2026)

2020 Crozes Hermitage Blanc, Mule Blanche, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

The nose is more direct and pure than expected with lush, stone fruit notes, and then the fruit closes down on the back of the palate as the acidity looms.  There is great potential here, and I anticipate it growing and softening over the next five to eight years.  17.5+/20 (Drink 2023 – 2030)

2020 Condrieu, Les Grands Amandines, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

This is another 2020 Jaboulet white that shows extraordinary definition and poise.  This is a straight-jacketed style with only 13% alcohol on board, and this means that it doesn’t show any of the risqué, confected fruit or high alcohol often associated with the ‘Pantomime Dame’-style Condrieus which crowd the market.  There is amazing tension and control here, making this a ravishing style of wine.  18+/20 (Drink now – 2028)

2020 Hermitage, le Chevalier de Sterimberg, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Sterimberg is brutally lean and power-packed in 2020, and this shape and style of Hermitage Blanc harks back to the very first time I tasted this label in the Eighties. Lean, powerful, sinewy and immensely age-worthy, this is a thrilling wine, and there is uncommon grace found here, too.  18.5+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2040)

2020 Hermitage, La Chapelle Blanc, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

With a little more depth and intensity than Sterimberg and a more closed nose and palate, I am sure this will be a long-lived wine that will reveal more and more flesh as time ticks by.  Once again, the grace versus power ratio is spot on, and the fruit is incredibly austere and linear.  I tasted all of these wines over three days, and they all opened up gradually, revealing more and more fruit to counter the statuesque acidity that forms the foundations on which they are built.  18.5+/20 (Drink 2025 – 2035)

Red

2019 Côtes du Rhône, Parallèle 45, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

It seems ludicrous to think that this is a large production wine because the palate’s quality, depth, and drive are akin to a hand-crafted, boutique creation.  Organically-grown, beautifully expressive and already drinking, this is a bargain-priced entry ticket to the Jaboulet empire of wines.  17/20 (Drink now – 2026)

2020 Côtes du Rhône, Parallèle 45, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Following on from the terrific 2019 vintage, this 2020 is even more expressive and fruit-driven and perhaps a little less earthy and structured.  An incredible burst of redcurrants and blueberries leads the way, making it a thoroughly joyous CdR.  17/20 (Drink now – 2025)

2020 Crozes Hermitage, Les Jalets, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Les Jalets is superb in 2020 with a peppery, red-fruited nose and a smooth, velvety palate.  One would normally expect this wine to require a good year or two to gather its thoughts, but it is already up and running with bright fruit notes and a more forward stance.  This is certainly one of the more precocious Les Jalets I can remember in recent years.  17.5/20 (Drink 2023 – 2028)

2020 Crozes Hermitage, Mule Noire, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Organically farmed and with deeper, earthier, and more black-fruited notes than Les Jalets this is a spicier wine and one with more complexity and a slightly more backward stance.  There is a touch of grip on the back palate warning the drinker to attack Les Jalets ahead of moving on to Mule Noire. 17.5/20 (Drink 2024 – 2030)

2020 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Organically grown, this wine is a revelation with exquisite flavours reminiscent of a top-flight Gigondas, which has been to a Swiss finishing school!  The perfume is a delight with layers and layers of rose petals, violets and black fruit, and the palate is equally succulent and stylish.  This is a mesmerising wine, and it is bound to impress whether you open a bottle after one year or indeed after ten!   18+/20 (Drink 2023 – 2033)

2020 Crozes Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Yet another beautiful 2020, Thalabert is deep, dark and brooding in this vintage, and it has an almost Italianate liquorice and black-fruited theme underpinning its Syrah characters.  This makes it an indulgent treat, and the palate is more velvety and forward than any young Thalabert I have tasted.  In addition, it has the stuffing to age well, too.  What more could you ask for?  18+/20 (Drink 2023 – 2033)

2020 Crozes Hermitage, Domaine de Roure, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

If Thalabert is the friendly face of Cornas, then Domaine de Roure is backward, tannic, grainy, gamey and slightly more aggressive on the palate.  In 2020 Roure is itching for a fight and you must be prepared for a war of wills when you pour this wine into your glass.  My advice is to let this angry wine calm itself down because the fruit and energy are undoubtedly impressive.  17.5+/20 (Drink 2026 – 2030)

2020 Saint Joseph, La Croix des Vignes, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

In cooler vintages, La Croix des Vignes is a spicy, herbal, aromatherapeutic beauty, but in hot vintages, like 2020, the fruit is flattering, pumped-up and juicy, and so this is a rather sexy and atypical Saint Joseph.  Velvety, sweet-fruited, flattering and heady, this is as welcoming and forward as I have ever known for this cuvée.  17.5/20 (Drink 2023 – 2030)

2020 Cornas, Les Reynards, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

There is so much quality and expression of fruit here it is extraordinary.  This is a heroic Cornas, and the depth of plummy fruit and decadent spice is amazing. Not only that, the freshness on the finish is a miracle given the depth of fruit on the mid-palate.  This is a stunning wine and a must-buy for fans of this appellation and one of its most famous vineyards, Les Reynards.  18.5+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2032)

2020 Cornas, Domaine de Saint Pierre, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Domaine de Saint Pierre usually sports a midnight black hue and impenetrable fruit in its youth, but in 2020, there is a purple colour and a more red-fruited feel throughout.  Juicy and surprisingly fresh, this is a delicious, lip-smacking Cornas, and I cannot remember using either of these expressions about wine from this appellation before.   18/20 (Drink 2023 – 2030)

2020 Côte Rôtie, Les Pierelles, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

The warmer weather conditions in 2020 have augmented the pepper and spice in this wine more so than the fruit.  This means there is an unusual thicket of savouriness that sits in the top of this glass and you have to scratch your way through it to find the wine underneath.  When you do, it is delicious, and yet this battle recommences every time you take another sip!  This is hilarious fun and somewhat Sisyphean, but in an entirely pleasurable way.  There is some tannin here, but I think it is needed to balance the fruit and spice, and this is why I would rather you started to drink it earlier in its life than perhaps might be expected.  18/20 (Drink 2024 – 2032)

2020 Hermitage, La Maison Bleue, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

With epic balance and stunning poise, La Maison Bleue is a Burgundian-shaped Hermitage in 2020, making it all the more intriguing and memorable.  Like the others in this portfolio, the control here is remarkable, and the weight and length are astounding, too.  Iodine and menthol hints coupled with garrigue and sanguineous moments add drama and detail to the sleek black core, but this is not an over-ripe or over-enthusiastic wine but a measured and contemplative soul.  Delicious.  18.5+/20 (Drink 2025 – 2035)

2020 Hermitage, La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

While there are faint roasted coffee bean notes here, which hint at the warm summer, and exotic rose and musk characters that only ever emerge in concentrated vintages, this is a masterclass in restraint and self-awareness.  While this 2020 perhaps lacks the overall gravitas and high-rise tannins of the majestic 2019 vintage, this is a very seductive La Chapelle and one that will appeal to lovers of textural, velvety Syrahs.  I am certain that everyone who drinks this wine will fall for its charms.  19+/20 (Drink 2025 – 2040)

Château Corton C, Burgundy

White

2019 Meursault, Narvaux, Château Corton C

This is a perfect example of the famous Narvaux vineyard balancing the lushness of fruit with the crispness of acidity, and it is certainly the finest Narvaux I can remember.  It is all too easy to drink, and I feel this is a forward style and a Chardonnay that will show at its best in its youth.  There is nothing like tension and energy to heighten the enjoyment of perfectly ripe fruit.  18/20 (Drink now – 2026)

2019 Corton Charlemagne (Le Corton), Grand Cru, Château Corton C

This is a remarkably forward Corton Charlemagne, and, like the Meursault above, it manages the trick of feeling ripe, smooth and alluring while at the same time bringing drama and trademark minerality to the finish.  I am used to tasting either pinched and raw Cortons or great big fleshy, oaky styles and neither of these versions floats my boat.  This wine is pinpoint perfect with its heavenly bouquet, silky palate and nervy acid line.  It will drink beautifully young and also hold well in the medium term, too.  18.5/20 (Drink 2023 – 2032)

Red

2019 Volnay, Château Corton C

This is a textbook Volnay with clean, refreshing, open fruit, and it is clear from the lifted, aromatically perfect nose that this is an accurate and engaging wine.  There is a nice counterpoint between the cherry-themed fruit’s wildness and the composure on the finish.  Forward and kindly, this is a delightful village Volnay.  17.5/20 (Drink 2023 – 2028)

2019 Savigny-lès-Beaune, Clos des Guettotes, Monopole, Château Corton C

There is a beguiling depth of fruit here which seems a little more profound and deeper-set than those flavours found in the bright and shiny Volnay.  While not bogged down with excess weight or tannin, there is a certain gravitas here making this a very attractive Savigny.  In need of a year or two to shed its light cloak of tannin, this is a cunning buy for your cellar and a wine that performs well above its station.  18+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2030)

2019 Auxey-Duresses, 1er Cru Le Val, Château Corton C

This is a tremendous Auxey-Duresses, and I cannot remember tasting a finer red wine from this village.  While it is fruit-driven and floral with freshness, lift and silkiness, it is also underpinned with genuine Auxey minerality.  While many wines from this appellation possess a slightly rustic or muscular air, this is as polished and suave as it gets, and I love it.  18+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2032)

2019 Monthélie, 1er Cru Les Champs Fulliot, Château Corton C

Light, clean and refreshing, this is a fragrant, gentle wine with a magical touch.  The colour is pale crimson, and the rose petal and raspberry tones are enchanting.  Drinking now, this is a fascinating, feather-light Pinot that shows a side to this noble grape variety that we rarely see these days.  17.5/20  (Drink now – 2028)

2019 Pommard, Château Corton C

I adore this wine, and it sums up all of the mystery and allure of Pommard in just one sip.  Enticing, moreish, layered, and a touch exotic, this is a thrilling counterpoint to the Volnay. I would love to serve these two side-by-side to show the precise differences between these two neighbouring villages.  This is such a pleasurable wine!  18+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2030)

2019 Aloxe-Corton, 1er Cru Les Petites Lolières, Château Corton C

There is definitely a more rustic feel to this Aloxe, and it sits a little outside the rest of the portfolio with a farmyardy edge.  While this is not quite pure enough for my palate, I would like to see it again in a couple of years to see if these characteristics have faded away.  16?/20 (Drink 2023 – 2030)

2019 Aloxe-Corton, 1er Cru Les Paulands, Château Corton C

This is a spicy and angular wine with a floral nose and a rather coarse palate.  Like the other Aloxe, I feel that this is not quite singing with enough purity and freshness and so my score and the addition of a ‘?’ reflects this.  16?/20 (Drink 2023 – 2030)

2019 Aloxe-Corton, Château Corton C

The third Aloxe in the range is the brightest and purest of the trio, yet it lacks depth and length.  While this is a simpler and shorter wine than expected, it is certainly nicely fruited and accurate.  17/20 (Drink now – 2028)

2019 Corton, Le Clos du Château, Monopole, Grand Cru, Château Corton C

Rich, full and beautifully assembled, this wine has considerable depth and mid-palate succulence and yet with this scale of flavour, there is no unwanted oak or tannin.  Indulgent and layered, this is a heady wine and one with real flair and ambition.  It is the antithesis of old-style Corton, and it marks the beginning of a new and exciting era for this perfectly-sited monopole. 18+/20 (Drink 2023 – 2032)

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