The Resurgence of a Prodigious Estate
Paul Jaboulet Aîné, crown jewel of the Rhône Valley, is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the Rhône En Primeur campaign. Since taking over the estate as an oenologist in 2006, Caroline Frey’s meticulous care and attention to quality in the vineyard, aided by a steady shift to organics and biodynamics, has led the once-struggling estate to a tremendous return to form in recent years, spearheading a renaissance that has seen the return of world-class winemaking and critical acclaim to one of the great estates of the Rhone Valley. The Frey family’s revival of the estate has culminated in a trio of consecutive stellar vintages, 2018, 2019, and now 2020, a testament to its impressive comeback.
A Precocious Yet Beautiful Vintage
Rhône Valley specialists celebrate the 2020 vintage for its great harmony and balance. Not since the outstanding 2016 has there been such universal praise for a vintage. Producers compare 2020 to 2006, 2010, 2016 and even 1990 – all memorable, age-worthy vintages with great character. Similar to 2016, 2020 was an “easy” growing season throughout the valley. Good rainfall at the beginning of the year set up the vines nicely for a hot, dry summer, with no mildew or rot in the vineyards. Cool night-time temperatures extended the ripening season, retaining plenty of acidity and freshness in the grapes, while ambient weather throughout harvest allowed producers to pick the grapes at optimum ripeness.
“These are wines that will provide huge amounts of pleasure, straight out of the gate. It is that rare thing – an excellent vintage for early drinking.” – Matt Walls, Decanter
Thanks to the richness of a sun-drenched vintage, 2020 produced wines of poise and elegance that developed very exquisite profiles, showing plenty of finesse and vibrancy. Decanter’s Matt Walls characterises the 2020s as “fresh, vibrant and deliciously drinkable.” The Northern Rhone reds are reliably fresh, balanced and approachable – a return to classicism after a series of powerful years, while the Southern Rhone reds are fresh, juicy and supple with lower alcohol than recent years. The whites are excellent all around with distinct profiles.
“Lovers of white Rhône will be thrilled – the 2020s have a rare fluidity and brightness. This is the freshest vintage for white wines since 2014.” – Matt Walls, Decanter