Tasting Note 2010 Domaine Jamet, Syrah

A Sensational Substitute for Jamet’s $125 Cote Rotie

Domaine Jamet, is one of the old-guard, traditional Cote Rotie producers. Following in the footsteps of their father Joseph Jamet who retired in 1991, his two sons Jean-Paul and Jean-Luc have stayed very traditional to their approach to winemaking.  Their regimen is typically consists of de-stemming a portion of the grapes, while leaving a significant portion as whole clusters. The stems give spice and tannins to the wine, as it ferments in stainless tanks. After fermentation, the must is pressed, and barreled down to older, neutral oak barrels. While the brothers have worked together as co-managers  for over 20 years, it seems they have parted ways in 2013.  Jean Paul will continue to produce the wines at Domaine Jamet, while his brother will begin making wine with the family’s parcel in the Cote Rotie Lancement lieu-dit (named vineyard).  I guess, after 50 years of sharing bedrooms, toys, bikes, girlfriends, tractors, it’s just gotten to the point that they’ve just had enough of one another.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Like many Cote Rotie producers, Jamet has to look farther afield for high-quality grapes to augment their small production from Cote-Rotie. Collines Rhodaniennes is a large IGP area (the EU term for Vin de Pay), to the east of the Northern Rhone appellations of Cornas and St. Peray. Of the red grapes planted there, Syrah is the main player, just as in the Northern Rhone, but also Gamay is grown in healthy amounts – though not by Jamet. Like the Northern Rhone, the cool air rolls down off the alps, creating continental climate that so distinctly influences the Northern Rhone with its long growing season, and  just-riped Syrah grown there. 

2010 Domaine Jamet, Syrah, Collines Rhodaniennes

235565This is strikingly Cote-Rotie-like, with its beautiful floral aromas of iris, geraniums and lavender, as well as smoked beef, soy, grilled baguette, a touch of plum and black cherry wrapped up with creamy notes. In the mouth the wine is lean, a little more so than a top-flight Cote-Rotie, but its flavors are spot-on.  Not to mention, its low 12.5 percent alcohol give it that authentic Cote-Rotie cool-fruit character. It is a lean Syrah, but it’s not too sharp. Creamy notes and the well-integrated flavors of cured meats and subtle cherry-blueberry fruit broaden-up the palate, saving the back-end of the wine with a nice level of richness.  The wine culminates with a soft finish allowing the florals to float across the palate where they alcoholize and give the wine a very pretty lift. This 100 percent Syrah is aged in very neutral oak barrels, 6-10 years allowing the resulting wine to stay very pure and beautifully aromatic, with excellent balance.

The Bottom Line: 91 points for the cognoscenti. This is a very impressive wine, but certainly not for everybody. If you love Cote Rotie, or any aromatic red this is a beautiful choice. For people who understand this kind of wine. Considering Jamet’s Cote Rotie’s cost roughly $125 a bottle, this is a great insight into the Jamet-syle, and is worth the $29 price tag.

Jamet has a significantly large 17 hectare plot in Collines Rhodaniennes, (according to importer Robert Kacher’s website), so presumably there should be a fair amount in the marketplace. Winesearcher.com doesn’t reveal this to be the case however. Finding it may entail a search, or a request from a knowledgeable wine merchant to obtain it, but for Cote Rotie enthusiast, this would be well-worth the trouble. Some 2011 has already hit at least one retail shelf on the East Coast (and should be delicious), though latent bottles of the 2010 still should be out there somewhere.


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Diary of a Winebuyer

About Me: Thirty years ago, I graduated with a degree in political science from the College of Letters and Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Having grown up at the height of the Cold War, I still have vivid remembrances of being instructed to hide under our elementary school desk, covering our heads. The young, white, female teacher, training us without explanation, to face away from the windows. I suppose it is not all that surprising that I had a particular interest in the realpolitik of international relations. My fascination grew with the discovery that certain conditions almost uniformly exist where all revolutions ferment. Did this mean that the revolutions which had occurred in the first half century were revolutions which had been usurped by Marxists who were in the right place at the right time? Probably. A favorite professor was A. J. Gregor. This was a man who, while rakishly wearing a Gestapo-styled black leather motorcycle jacket, exuded expertise on fascism (which he looked the part) and Marxism. Improbably, he did it with a significant swagger. Then in my last semester, I had the blind luck to take a class on Asian Marxist revolution, and the professor, who just happened to be visiting that year while he worked on some unnamed project, was Chalmers Johnson. In retrospect, I should have known his name, as he was a luminary in the political science community but at that time, I did not. It was a remarkable opportunity to experience the ivory tower, but I seem to remember being anxious to get on with life. After college, I drifted through a few of jobs that were of interest to me. One of my former high school teachers said to me. "If I were in your shoes, I'd get a job as a flight attendant." So in order to be young while I could still afford to, I accepted a job serving chicken or beef at Pan American. With that airline losing money faster than it could sell its routes, I got a job doing cellar work at David Bruce Winery. This was the beginning of my wine career. All during this period, I wrote a still unpublished novel about homegrown terrorists the U.C. Berkeley campus, attempting to use some of what I learned in school, weaving in the Vietnamese political and military strategies of Dau Tranh as professor Johnson had lectured years before. Since the early 1990's, I have been involved in the wine industry, selling fine wine in both the retail and wholesale arenas. I have approached learning about wine, by always challenging myself to question how I know what I think I know? And in an effort to try to find answers I've turned, with varying degrees of success to wine books. Overall, I've not been happy with the quality of most wine writing, finding the authors either to lack any deep knowledge, or unable to move much past what I consider to be superficial information. I recognize that wine writers have to monetize their work, but I believe this has dramatically held back our knowledge and understanding of wine. I have set out to add to our industry's base of knowledge where I can. My first series, 'The Terroir of Burgundy' (which I should probably re-edit and complete some kind of conclusion, but I got involved in this project), can be viewed here. I currently work as a sales and marketing manager for a Burgundy and Bordeaux importer based in Atherton, California.

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