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MWG tasting with Jean-Paul Daumen

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Focused, well-spoken and charming Jean-Paul Daumen, the man in charge of the southern Rhône estate Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, was in town recently for a series of promotional events that included a tasting with the Mo’ Wine Group. And what a tasting it was: an overview of the estate’s red wines that featured a vertical of Châteauneuf-du-Papes the likes of which even Jean-Paul said he has rarely experienced. Many thanks to oenopole for making this happen.

Vieille Julienne was acquired by the Daumen family in 1905, who sold the grapes to négociants until 1960. After trying his hand at various vocations, including that of musician, Jean-Paul returned to the estate in 1990. Unaware of the budding organic and biodyanmic movements, he decided on his own to adopt a natural approach in the vineyard and a non-interventionist approach in the winery. The question “So, for you, a wine is made in the vineyard, not the cellar?” elicited a succinct “Absoluement.”

The estate comprises 10.5 ha of vines – 10 ha of black grapes and 0.5 ha of white – in the northern part of the Châteauneuf region. Most of the vines are old, upwards of 100 years in some cases. All the wines are made in essentially the same way: hand-picking and repeated sorting of grapes; partial destemming; temperature-controlled fermentation with indigenous yeasts; extended maceration; approximately 12 months’ aging in foudres and neutral barrels; no filtering or fining; sulphur added – and then minimally – only just before bottling.

Jean-Paul admits that the wines are, first and foremost, about fruit; that’s what nature and the terroir produce, he says. However, they are far from fruit bombs. Before the event, more than one MWG member expressed apprehension at the prospect of tasting through a baker’s dozen of big, heady wines. Would palates be obliterated as had happened only a week earlier? We needn’t have worried. While big, the wines weren’t bruising and their purity and balance ensured refreshment. They were also remarkably stylish and consistent across the vintages, as the following notes show.

Côtes du Rhône 2009, Daumen Père et Fils ($19.30, 11509857)
Grenache (80%) with Syrah, Mourvèdre and a little Cinsault. Unlike the label’s Lirac and Gigondas (neither of which has been imported to Quebec) but like the VDP de la principauté d’Orange (an old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon–Merlot blend available as a private import from oenopole), the grapes come from Daumen’s own vineyards. They are also co-planted, so this is a field blend.
Bright plum, spice, garrigue, sawed wood, slate. Very dry and finely structured. Dark fruit, spicy/tingly tannins and a peppery finish. So drinkable. Great QPR. 14% ABV. (Buy again? Definitely, assuming I can lay my hands on some.)

Côtes du Rhône 2010, Lieu-dit Clavin, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne ($25.90, 10919133)
80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre and Cinsault.
Deeper, darker nose with some musk added to the mix. More medium- than full-bodied. Silkier, brighter, less rustic than the Daumen. Kirschy finish and a lingering tannic rasp. A bit closed? 14.5% ABV. (Buy again? Yes.)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne ($70.75, 11171235)
All the estate’s Châteauneufs are Grenache-dominated blends that also include Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise and Cinsault.
Deep, exotic, heady. Asian spices, black pepper and a little red meat. Rich, powerful. Fine albeit powerful tannins. Hint of sweetness on the attack; hint of heat on the long finish. Opened and rounded as it breathed. 15.5% ABV. (Buy again? To cellar for a decade or two.)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2008, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Young, spicy, alluring. Black raspberry and sawed wood again. Silky texture. Tannins beginning to resolve. Pure raspberry fruit with spice and herb notes. Cedar/resin-edged finish. Lovely balance. Digeste. 15% ABV.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Vieille Julienne’s high-end Réservé bottling is produced only in good vintages. In the excellent 1997 vintage, however, Jean-Paul felt that the quality of the regular CDP was so high that any difference with the Réservé was minimal, so no Réservé was made. Instead, all the Réservé wine was blended with the regular CDP.
Outgoing nose: red and black fruit, subtle spice and meat. Earthy and woody but elegant. Great structure and balance. Will benefit from a few more years in the bottle, after which it will drink beautifully for at least a decade or two. 15.5% ABV.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne ($76.25, 10807975)
A year of transition away from a more fruit-driven to a more tertiary style.
Markedly different nose. Cherry and alcohol, more animale and sourer. Velvety texture. Fine, drying tannins. Delicious. 15.5% ABV. (Buy again? Almost sold out but yes.)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006, Réservé, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne ($457.75, 10807916)
From a bottle that had been open for several hours.
Complex, deep, perfumed. Fern fronds, minerals, candied cherry. Dazzling fruit and spice. Fluid, silky tannins. Illuminating acid. Endless finish. Wow. 16.5% ABV, though I would never have guessed it. (Buy again? If only…)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Dark as night. Spice, cedar, plum skin. Rich, dense, structured, tannic but not heavy. Complete. 15% ABV.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2004, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Plum, kirsch, spice. Less deep though still dense. Fresh and balanced with very pure fruit. More one-note than the others but quite delicious. 15% ABV.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2003, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Dark, dense with pencil lead added to the mix. Monolithic. Velvety texture. Very tannic. Big but balanced and still quite young. 15.5% ABV.

At this point, Jean-Paul expressed regret that he hadn’t brought a bottle of the regular CDP from 2002, a disastrous vintage in the Rhône. When asked about it, he proclaimed himself proud of the result and said it would have held its own alongside the bottles from more illustrious vintages.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Cedar, roast beef, mushroom, hint of sweat. Sill youthful. Pure and rich with a winey texture. Plump tannins. Long. Wonderfully drinkable. Impressive. 14.5% ABV.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
2001 was the last vintage of this cuvée, which is distinct from the Réservé. Mostly Grenache with small amounts of Mourvèdre and Syrah.
Spice, cedar, plum, shoe box and a faint lactic note. Round, smooth, fine. Beautiful tannic framework. Long, cedary finish. A delightful wine. 15.5% ABV.

Crémant du Jura 2008, Domaine Labet Père et fils ($20.80, NLA)
Perhaps due to the differing contexts, this was quite different from the bottle tasted in November. Yeasty/bready nose of pear and spice. Fine bead. Dry yet tasting a bit honeyed, the texture enlightened by the bubbles and acidity. Clean finish. Too rich and deep for its intended role of palate cleanser but delicious all the same.

Written by carswell

June 25, 2012 at 23:00

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with , ,

4 Responses

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  1. […] 2010, Daumen ($17.00, oenopole, 12 bottles/case) (For background on Jean-Paul Daumen, see the notes from the June 2012 MWG tasting he led.) A blend of organically farmed Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), […]

  2. […] cuvée from Daumen, a wine that I’d not heard about, including from Jean-Paul Daumen at the MWG tasting he led: Côtes-du-Rhône 2005, La Bosse, Domaine de la Vieille Juilienne ($196.00, 11905930). What’s […]

  3. […] have included a dollop of Cinsault) from vines averaging 60 years old. Although marketed under Jean-Paul Daumen’s négociant label, the grapes come from the estate’s own vineyards. Manually harvested, […]

  4. […] Principauté d’Orange 2012, Daumen ($17.90, 12244547) For background on the estate, see here. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Grenache (30%), Merlot (15%), Syrah (15%) and […]

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