Jaboulet: We need to make Hermitage sexy again

Winemaker Nicolas Jaboulet of Maison Nicolas Perrin is calling for producers in Hermitage to work together to make the Rhône appellation “sexy” again.

Nicolas Jaboulet (right) with Marc Perrin

Nicolas Jaboulet (right) with Marc Perrin

Speaking to the drinks business at the UK launch of the 2014 vintage of Domaine les Alexandrins, a joint venture between Jaboulet, Marc Perrin and Nicolas Sorrel, Jaboulet said:

“Estates in Hermitage have focused more on their own brands than flagging up the appellation, whereas Côtie-Rotie producers have focused on Côtie-Rotie. I think producers in Hermitage need to work on that and do more to highlight the appellation and make it sexy again like Côtie-Rotie.

“Younger consumers are getting into the wines from Côtie-Rotie. It’s the Burgundy of Rhône – the wines are so elegant and charming, it makes them easy to enjoy.

Dom Les Alexandrins Crozes 2014

During the tasting of wines from both Maison Nicolas Perrin and Domaine les Alexandrins, Jaboulet revealed that he make his wines with food in mind and wants them to be approachable from a young age.

Starting with a tasting of two whites – a Crozes-Hermitage and a Condrieu, Jaboulet lamented the fact that white Rhône largely remains under the radar.

“People don’t traditionally go to the Rhône for white wines – they’ll head to Alsace or Burgundy. White Rhône is still for the connoisseurs at the moment.

“White wine didn’t used to be a priority in the region but the whites coming out of the Northern Rhône has improved a lot recently. It used to be used in red blends to increase the volume but producers are treating it with more care and attention.

“I’d love for white Rhône to be better known but the reality is we only make tiny amounts of it and a lot of Marsanne and Roussanne vines have been grubbed up and replaced with Syrah

“Winemakers are seeking more freshness from their whites in the Rhône and are lessening the time they spend in barrel,” he said.

Recounting of Condrieu’s prestigious past, Jaboulet said: “Louis XIV served Condrieu at Versailles, so the wine has a long history but production collapsed in the 20th century and by the ‘70s it was only served as a cheap bistro wine in Lyon.

“By the ‘80s there was only around 30 hectares of Viognier left in the Rhône, and little else anywhere else in the world. The likes of Guigal have helped give the wine a second life and Condrieu is back on the scene again and growing in popularity.

“Land owners were practically giving away parcels of Viognier in the ‘80s and now a hectare costs a fortune. Condrieu offers the enticing combination of exotic fruit, freshness and the tension that comes from the granite soils. It pairs wonderfully with Asian cuisine.”

Jaboulet believes the best opportunities for development in the Rhône are in Crozes-Hermitage, which is gaining recognition among consumers.

Stemming from a shared winemaking philosophy, the partnership between Jaboulet, Perrin and Sorrel began in 2014, though Domaine les Alexandrins has existed since 2009.

Making wine from 12 hectares in Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph, the trio would like to expand the project to 30-50 hectares and are on the lookout for land in the Côte-Rôtie and Cornas.

“We’d like to make wine from one of the Rhône’s most prestigious appellations to shine a light on the brand. The problem isn’t necessarily the price of land but that fact that by the time you’ve heard about it the land has already been sold,” Jaboulet said.

The wines of Domaine les Alexandrins are represented in the UK by Liberty Wines.

One Response to “Jaboulet: We need to make Hermitage sexy again”

  1. keep me up dated on your wines developement

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