LVT 2017 r 2018 wh After a little over ten years, the picture is becoming clearer here. The Frey family are concentrating their investment and efforts on their vineyards. In 2009 the 45-hectare Domaine de Thalabert at Crozes-Hermitage became officially organic, while in 2016 their vineyards at Saint-Joseph (7.5 ha), Cornas (6.1 ha), Côte-Rôtie (2.7 ha) and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (12 ha) followed suit. There is no doubt that the vineyards are better looked after now than they were in the dying embers of the Jaboulet family's tenure.
Winemaking is less Bordeaux-centric now as well. There is a better appeciation of the jewel in the 22.5 hectare Hermitage crown, namely of the merits of Le Méal, so the 2012 vintage of La Chapelle red was more markedly southern (as in Rhône), rather than western (as in Bordeaux): a full and ripe, rumbustious wine. The northern whites, it has to be said, remain disappointing. I find the crop is harvested too early to achieve a proper glycerol foundation. The reds are a mixed bag, although encouragement came in 2017 with a **** Crozes-Hermitage Thalabert red and a **** Hermitage Maison Bleue (the new name for La Petite Chapelle): vineyard work is paying off.
Founded in 1834, this was the Benchmark House when I started in the Rhône in 1973. The 1980s saw respectable wines, but the mantle slipped markedly in the 1990s. The culmination of two sides of the family holding different objectives in life was the sale in late 2005/early 2006 to Jean-Jacques Frey, a Swiss financier. Monsieur Frey already owns Château La Lagune in the Médoc - it had been a trailblazer in the 1970s but needed investment - which it has received in abundance. Monsieur Frey also owns the vineyards of Champagne Ayala and has a share in Champagne Billecart-Salmon. His daughter Caroline is a trained oenologue and has been making the wine at La Lagune. She supervises the winemaking there. The late Denis Dubordieu, the champion of white Bordeaux, was the original overall advisor.
The southern Rhônes from Ventoux and usually Vacqueyras have held up their quality, while in 2007 the new owners bought the Domaine de Terre Ferme in the south-east of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, and a lot of time and money has been spent re-invigorating its 12 hectares of vineyards; some of these were sold off in the late 2010s after a law suit went against the family business in another sphere - cause-effect not established. In the northern Rhône it is best to consider each wine on its own merits. I am currently refused entry to taste chez Jaboulet since the father (whom I have never met) is displeased with me, but that situation may be easing.
The latest big scale project for Caroline is the seven hectares at Aloxe Corton, 23 plots, 11 appellations, bought in 2015. She spends quite a lot of time in her small Swiss vineyard.
Caroline Frey Les Jalets RN7 BP 46 26600 Tain l’Hermitage
Tel: +33 (0) 475 84 68 93
Countries exported to:1) USA 2) GB 3) Canada
Percentage Exported: 60%
British Importers: Bibendum 113 Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR +44(0)207 449 4120 www.bibendum-wine.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org [previously Liberty Wines London] Gleeson Wines & Spirits Ltd Keeper Rd Crumlin Dublin12 +353162 69787
USA Importers: Frederick Wildman & Sons Ltd 307 East 53rd Street New York NY 10022 +1212 355 0700 www.frederickwildman.com