Paul Jaboulet Aine is perhaps the world’s best-known maker of Rhone Valley wines. Founded in 1834 by Antoine Jaboulet, the estate was family owned and operated until 2006, when it was purchased by the Swiss financier Jacques Frey, who also owns chateaux in Bordeaux and Champagne. Today the 282-acre estate is based in the appellation of Hermitage and makes a long list of wines, starting with its flagship Hermitage La Chapelle, made of Syrah from 40-60 year-old vines. Jaboulet also makes red and white Crozes Hermitage, Chateauneuf du Pape, white Condrieu and Cornas. Besides Syrah, the estate has vineyards of Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the appellation, is a large area of nearly 8,000 vineyard acres centered around the picturesque town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Located in southeastern France just north of the Avignon hills, the name of the appellation means “new castle of the pope” and it is a reference to the 14th century, when the Popes of Avignon built summer homes in the Southern Rhone Valley. Today the appellation is one of the most renowned in France and its terroir is known for layers of small pebbles, called “galets.” The stones in the soil are thought to help store heat and keep the soil warm, which helps ripen the grapes. The stones also help keep the soil from drying out in hot summer months. In 1923 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a leader in establishing the idea that AOC wines in France should be made only with specified grapes, and the appellation allowed 13 grape varieties to be used. Since then the rules have been slightly modified to include several more allowable grapes. Red and white wines are produced, though in practice about 97% of all Châteauneuf –du-Papes are reds made with a blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvedre, Muscardine, Syrah and Vaccarese. The red wines of this appellation are prized for being big, rich, spicy and full-bodied. White wines of the appellation are made with Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picpoul and Picardin. Whites are floral, fruity and relatively full-bodied.