Truly sensational notes of tangerines, quince, white flowers, smoke, and crushed stone emerge from the glass, and it’s full-bodied, with a Grand Cru Burgundy-like sense of minerality, perfect balance, and a great finish.
Domaine de la Janasse is located in Courthezon, in France’s Southern Rhone Valley, and it is one of the region’s new stars. Although the Sabon family has been growing grapes in the valley for several generations, it wasn’t until 1973 that Aime Sabon built his own cave and began making wine under the name Domaine de la Janasse. The domaine’s wines became truly noteworthy in the 1990s, after Aime’s son Christophe graduated from oenology college in Beaune and returned to the domaine bringing new ideas about wine production and viticulture. Sine then the Domaine de la Janasse label has become synonymous with excellence and the domain’s outstanding Chateauneuf-du-Papes are particularly hard to acquire because of relatively limited production and great demand. The domaine owns 136 acres of vineyards divided into 15 parcels, and also makes Cotes du Rhone and white wines, all of which are praised by reviewers.
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.