Enterprising young winemaker Caroline Frey of Château La Lagune and Jaboulet is reviving the tradition of blending Bordeaux with Rhône via a new release.
Evidence is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from La Lagune and Shiraz from Domaine de Thalabert in Crozes-Hermitage.
Claret was often blended with Syrah from the Rhône in the 19th century in order to boost its colour and body before the practice was banned under AOC legislation.
“Blending Bordeaux with Syrah from the Rhône was done slightly secretly in the past. Not everyone in Bordeaux is comfortable speaking about the practice, which is not very well known, but it works really well,” Frey told the drinks business.
She came up with the idea for Evidence in 2006 after weekly journeys between La Lagune in Haut-Médoc and Jaboulet in the northern Rhône.
Having created a high-end blend – Duo – of La Lagune’s grand vin and Jaboulet’s jewel in the crown, La Chapelle, of which only one barrel is made each year and bottled in magnums and Jeroboams destined for auction houses, Frey decided she wanted to bring the wine to the masses via a more affordable blend.
“The idea with Evidence was to be able to give the same kind of wine to a larger audience, so I used Cabernet destined for La Lagune’s second wine, Le Moulin de Lagune and Syrah from vineyards we own in Crozes-Hermitage,” Frey told db.
Some 10,000 bottles of the inaugural 2010 vintage of Evidence Par Caroline have been made, which is priced at £30 a bottle and is labelled as a Vin de France.
The Cabernet and Syrah are made in their respective regions and aged for a year in barrel before the Cabernet travels to the Rhône, where it is blended with the Syrah and aged for 18 months in French oak before bottling.
“From one day to another the wine can be really different, sometimes the Cabernet is more dominant and sometimes the Syrah.
“There’s a nice harmony in the blend, the two compliment each other nicely. I’ve had sommeliers say it would be hard to guess the blend as it’s so well integrated.
“The Syrah brings the power and the Cabernet the length. When you blend, it’s not 1+1 makes 2, you get something different each time,” said Frey, who believes the wine will age comfortably for at least a decade.
Evidence is blended in the Rhône rather than Bordeaux as Frey admits that the practice wouldn’t be allowed to take place at La Lagune.
“Of course it would be better to be able to put AOC on the label, but for this kind of wine there’s a nice story behind it so people aren’t paying attention to appellation,” Frey said.
Evidence will be made each year, with production due to stay at the 10,000-bottle mark. The wine will be sold in the UK in the on and off-trade through Bibendum.