One must never forget that at its base the wine industry is about fruit farming. Quality starts in the vineyard and the vine is a Mediterranean plant, by nature: a creeper. It’s mostly very accommodating, not needing much in the way of soil. Water is needed, more or less depending on grape varieties, and, from time to time a little bit of organic material. Ultimately, we are of course dependent on nature and it is up to us to adapt to its caprices. And good growers are becoming very good at adapting to what nature gives.
Richard and Pascal Jaume supply The Society’s Côtes-du-Rhône and as I write, I am soon to go out to see them in order to blend the 2019 edition of this excellent wine. They are masters at adapting. In 2017, it was drought and in 2018, it was a very wet and hot spring. In 2019, it will have been heat. But on each occasion, the challenges were met and they triumphed. I have already tasted the 2019s as very young wines in full fermentation and the signs are excellent. They are part of our Rhône story. I ought to mention Claude, their father, who still drives a tractor and offers his sixty years of wisdom to his sons. And then there is Nicole, the mother, who keeps the men in their places and keeps them (and myself!) fed.
Rhône vintages come in two kinds. Some like 2014 and 2012 are immediately accessible. Which isn’t to say that they don’t keep but they give pleasure from day one. Others though really do need time. 2013 was such a vintage. It was very late. So late, well into October, that one wondered if the grapes would ever ripen. But ripen they did and left us with some fine, somewhat austere wines that definitely needed time. Judging by Jaboulet’s Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, the time to enjoy them has arrived.
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