Paul Jaboulet Ainé Crozes-Hermitage Mule Noire 2020
Great introduction to the Northern Rhone, this Crozes-Hermitage coming from ‘galets’ riverbed displays enticing aromas, soft yet rich and a touch full of finesse.
Paul Jaboulet Ainé
NEW, Organic & Biodynamic, Winter Warmers, Women in Wine
|Critics Top Rating
The Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné was created in 1834 through the magical conjunction of a fertile land on a hillside by the Rhone and a family with a passion for winemaking.
Famed through the Hermitage La Chapelle, over the years the Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné took ownership of the finest appellations of the northern Rhone Valley, applying organic and biodynamic principles since taken over by the Frey family, ensuring a legacy in both vineyards and incredible wines.
The Crozes Hermitage ‘Les Jalets‘ comes from vineyards located in the terraces of Les Chassis. Its names come from the old French word for ‘Galets’, referring the to the pebbles left by Alpine Glaciers.
Soil – A stony soil made of glacial origin, with deep soils made from pebbles and clay.
Grape Variety – 100% Syrah
Age of vines – 25 years
Vinification – The grapes are hand picked, carefully sorted and then meticulously vinified using traditional methods. The maceration lasts 3 weeks with daily pump-overs.
Aging – for 50% in French oak vats, 25% in French oak barrels and 25% in Stainless steel for 12 months.
Beautiful ruby color with shades or purple. The nose opens up with notes of small red fruits, redcurrant, and floral notes of violet with a touch of licorice. The wine is generous and gourmand on the palate. We find notes of red fruit with a nice freshness and a finish full of finesse.
Matching food and wine: Saucisson brioché, Bavette with shallots, Entrecote with green pepper
Enjoy within 5 to 10 years
James Suckling – 92 points
Full wild-blackberry aromas, plus some meaty character welcome you to the Rhone kingdom of syrah. Thanks to the open fruit, moderate tannin structure and creamy texture on the mid-palate, this is already a very appealing Crozes-Hermitage. Only at the finish are the tannins a bit more obvious, but the mineral freshness there is more forthright. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.
Wine Advocate – 89-91 points
Jaboulet’s négociant Crozes, the 2019 Crozes Hermitage les Jalets isn’t quite as dark as the Domaine de Thalabert bottling, but it’s still plenty purple. Scents of violets, licorice and cracked pepper accent blueberry and cassis fruit, while the palate is medium to full-bodied, silky and supple, ending with a gentle rush of soft tannins. Especially given the hail damage inflicted on the appellation in June, it’s a noteworthy effort.
When I spoke with her via Zoom in mid-December, Caroline Frey was candid in discussing her COVID-19 experience. “I was thinking, ‘I’m young. I do a lot of sports,’” she said, assuming that even if she caught it, she wouldn’t be hugely affected. But when she contracted the virus, she lost her sense of smell, and she said it was just starting to come back as we tasted through the 2018s and 2019s from Paul Jaboulet Aîné. According to Frey, in 2018, the vineyards received plenty of rain from March through June, followed by dry, windy conditions, which kept the vines healthy. Harvest began on August 27th and extended through September 25th. “There’s something powerful and pure in 2018,” she said. “It’s a mix of ’15 (power) and ’16 (purity).” Referencing the 2018 Domaine de Thalabert, Frey said, “We have the power and density but not like ’03. The wine is still bringing freshness and balance.” The 2019 season was characterized by a cool spring and a slow start to the growing season, but that was followed by intense heat, including 10 days of temperatures that exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). A major hailstorm struck Crozes-Hermitage in mid-June, leading to extensive crop losses (up to 60%, according to Frey), followed by another, smaller hail event in July that affected parts of Hermitage and Saint-Joseph. Despite those storms, parts of the vineyards still experienced hydric stress, so picking didn’t begin until September 11 and concluded on September 27. “We had smaller berries and thicker skins than in 2018,” she said. “We did a very soft extraction—more like an infusion. When we have these levels of richness, we imagine the finish may be unbalanced, but that’s not the case. We have length and freshness.” Both of these vintages are hugely successful at Jaboulet, no doubt because of the team’s ability to deal with the hot, dry conditions. As Frey said, “The biggest challenge is to have the ripeness from the vines and not just the sun.” All of the wines—including the substantial volumes of the Côtes du Rhône Parallele 45—have now been certified organic (produced from organically grown grapes as defined by U.S. terms, as sulfur is added), with the estate wines being grown biodynamically since 2015. Because they are made in the same facility as some non-biodynamically grown wines, they’re not certified for the time being.
Decanter – 90 points
A well made Crozes Hermitage, with good depth of spicy blackberry fruit on the nose and in the mouth. There’s a delicious smoky bacon savouriness to the palate, with supple, well-balanced tannins, nice freshness and a pinch of dried herbs on the long finish. Drinking Window 2021 – 2026