Family domaines in France are built to support future generations and provide the children with vineyards to bring into their own. I have watched my brother grow his own label for a few years now and it is truly remarkable seeing the evolution and twists he has brought to the family traditions. Yet the Jamet brothers did not simply take a few parcels each, they split Domaine Jamet squarely in half. Since 2012, they have built a wall up the middle of the once shared driveway, as Jean-Luc's winery sits almost directly next to his brothers.
As the chief viticulturist in the family, Jean-Luc understands that a great wine starts at the roots. He has spent his years understanding and working with the terroir to bring out nuances in his wines that can not be replicated in the vinification. As with many others, I was shocked about the split of Domaine Jamet, but as Jean-Luc has come into his own it is clear that he, along with his children, are making waves in the Rhone Valley and don't have plans on slowing down.
With the family vineyard in Cote-Rotie, Jean-Luc Jamet has become a famed vigneron of the region, with his plantings on famous hillsides of Lancement, La Landonne, Chavaroche, and Les Moutonnes. Planted on steep slopes, the vines of the Côte-Rôtie cru were taken from the right bank of the Rhone river and now sit upon gradients of over 60°. Only a few dozen rows wide, the vineyards are very narrow and grow on terraces all managed by hand and not machine. All Syrah vines, the production of red wine as a single varietal is the key to this appellation and what is ruled by the AOC established in 1940, although a nice blend with Viognier alters the wine in an incredible fashion when done well.
Only a few kilometres from Lyon, Côte-Rôtie is the northernmost appellation of the Rhône Valley. With all vineyards managed by the Centurie de Probus (Probus's Centurions), a collective union of Côte-Rôtie winegrowers who dedicate their work to promoting their wines and appellation as a whole. This is emblematic of the Roman emperor who loved Côte-Rôtie, and succeeded in bringing together a number of Gallic tribes around a common desire: the passion for Côte-Rôtie and the development of the vineyards.
Côtes du Rhône
With the remaining 3.5 hectares of plantings sitting within the Côtes du Rhône appellations, Jamet has captured the terroir perfectly in both his white and red wines. Spread across 171 communes, the Côtes du Rhône AOC contains a variety of rich terroirs with altering sunlight hours to bring out the best of the climate and present the Rhône Valley in all its variations. With the goal to always make the best wine they can, with rich and generous flavours, the winemakers of Rhone are difficult to compare.
With extensive historical studies resolving that the Cotes du Rhone was one of the world's first wine growing regions, it has had centuries to hone the skills of the winemakers and connect with the terroir unlike any other region. In 1737, a royal decree was put in place to ensure all barrels sold or transported from the region must be branded with the letters “C.D.R”, thus giving a label to these Côtes du Rhône wines. Then formalised in 1937, the AOC Côtes du Rhône was established.
With aging potential upward of 30 years, these Syrahs are wines no connoisseur would want to miss. Thrillingly delicate wines, with a perfect medium-bodied expression of Syrah, they are built upon freshness and detail – a style I find to be vibrant and flawless.