Mon 22 Apr 2013

Upgrading The Society’s Exhibition Crozes-Hermitage

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Today was my first taste of the new Exhibition Crozes-Hermitage since it arrived in Stevenage and I have to say that I was quietly very impressed.

The Society's Exhibition Crozes HermitageIt replaced a perfectly good wine which we had been buying for years from the excellent Tain Coop. It was good and yet, and yet…

The trouble about the Exhibition range is that the wines chosen for it have to be better than just good and rightly or wrongly I felt that what we had done up til now was good but maybe not the benchmark that the Exhibition label demands. And so I kept on looking.

The ‘Eureka’ moment came inthe autumn during a meeting with Nicolas Jaboulet at his new office in Valence. Nicolas is the son of Michel Jaboulet who was last in charge of the family firm before the sale to Jean-Jacques Frey. Nicolas entered the firm and was quickly given responsibility of the UK market and with it The Wine Society account. Things didn’t go as planned. The Jaboulet family had invested big sums on new cellars and vineyard and there was not enough cash in the bank when two members of the family decided to walk.

All that is history now. For Nicolas there was a time for reflection, an unwelcome bout of illness and, since the 2007 vintage, a completely new direction, when he decided to go it alone and start his own négoce company. This wasn’t easy at first but luck was on his side. For a start he got technical and financial support from the Perrin family of Beaucastel. A joint venture was created adopting the compromise name of Nicolas Perrin. But also, Nicolas as a member of one of the most respected families in the Rhône Valley, suddenly found he had loads of friends and loads of people happy to sell him wine.

Nicolas Jaboulet

Nicolas Jaboulet

Back to my meeting in Valence. I tasted all the 2011s which were lovely but the Crozes was absolutely stunning. 2011 as a vintage could be good but not always, and over the weeks that I had been in the Rhône from September to November, I had tasted lots of indifferent Crozes. But Nicolas’ wine was exceptional. It comes from lots of growers, including all the top names. This wine I thought would be perfect for the Exhibition label and so we began talking. And then another bit of luck as an American customer pulled out. This was my opportunity to get my hands on something really quite special and fully worthy of the Exhibition label.

How does the new wine differ? Already just the aroma is different as Nicolas’ wine has more intensity, brightness and purity. The taste matches the smell: greater intensity and finesse and much better length.

Crozes- Hermitage is the most important appellation in the northern Rhône, accounting for well over half the production. A good Crozes is an essential requirement in any merchant’s armoury and I think this fits the bill to perfection. I would love to hear your views.

The new Exhibition Crozes-Hermitage is available now, priced at £12.50 per bottle.

Marcel Orford-Williams
Society Buyer for Rhône

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