I can’t really say who I was with or repeat much of what happened at this lunch but I can write up the wines. This is not to be sinister or suspicious but to follow the rules of a lunch I was a “speaking guest” at.
I seem to be writing almost half the posts at the moment about wines from the Rhone and I am enjoying it. We started with the ever glorious Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV in magnum, I’ve had this a lot recently and it is in a great place, good balance, a little biscuity-character to it. I really hope I remember to lay a few down.We were then onto the first of four Hermitages. Two whites to start – Hermitage Blanc Tardieu-Laurent 2011 and Hermitage Blanc from J-L Chave 2004 – these were a great contrast but within the bounds of a certain form. The Tardieu-Laurent has a zippy freshness from the primary fruit but a little deftly oaked richness from the ageing, it’s a wine that will start to age soon and the apricot will have more hazelnut to accompany it. The Chave by contrast is a much more secondary, nutty, savoury flavour profile, weightier and more serious now.
We then had two Hermitage La Chapelle’s from Jaboulet 1990 & 1997, the 1990 I have had recently on this occassion and it showed well again, maybe not quite the precision but a very very great wine. The 1997 though was a very good surprise, true to Syrah but with a nice mid-weight. A sort of lunchtime Hermitage, if that wasn’t as obnoxious as it sounds.
Then it was time to embrace the Southern Rhone with Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Clos des Papes 1998 & 2001. These are two very good vintages for the Southern Rhone, the blends in these two are a little different with 1998 being 65% Grenache, 20% Mouvedre, 10% Syrah and 5% counoise where the 2001 is 72% Grenache, 20% Mouvedre and 8% Syrah. The 1998 was good, a little earthy but showing good animal character and good fruit but the 2001 was genuinely exciting, more lifted with dark red fruits and a lovely balance between savoury and sweet fruit…a wine to look out for!
The last planned wine was Condrieu “Luminescence” 2015 from E.Guigal this is an intensely sweet, 100% Viognier, wine only made when they have exceptional conditions (other vintages I think are limited to 1999 & 2003). In 2015 only 2300half bottles were made! It has a real primary sweetness and is great with the cheeses we shared it with, gold, honeyed fruits and a lot of energy.
We did have one other wine and it was lovely, coming from a producer I really like, Alain Graillot, the wine was Crozes-Hermitage “La Guiraude” 2012 there is a lovely savoury earthy, graphite and wet stones aroma and then a smoothly persistent palate…he’s a sort of affordable cult producer and should be!
A really enjoyable long lunch, Rhone doing what it does so well. A beer followed, it probably shouldn’t have…