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TEW Welcomes Domaine de la Vieille Julienne!

From southern Rhone, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne is no stranger to many a vintner’s coveted success. In 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2006, Robert Parker awarded 100 points to Jean-Paul Daumen’s Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve.  But in 2007 when Jean-Paul tasted the Reserve, he was not impressed.  He decided against bottling it because in his mind, the wine wasn’t much different from that of the other parcels.  This decision to temper momentum for the sake of integrity mirrors the presence of Jean-Paul’s wines in New York. Absent from our local market for a few years, Jean-Paul has been waiting patiently for the right relationship, and so we are delighted to announce his decision to join us!

Working with 10ha in the northern part of the appellation Chateauneuf du Pape, and with 5ha in Cotes du Rhone, Jean-Paul took over the family vineyards in 1990. In 1905, his ancestors purchased the property and sold solely to negociants, while bottling for family and friends. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that his father started bottling with greater intent, thereby providing Jean-Paul with the foundational knowledge that it took for him to develop his award winning wines.

Jean-Paul Daumen
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When Jean-Paul took over the estate in 1990, he began working towards organic certification while practicing biodynamics in the vineyard. Inspired by the expression of terroir, Jean-Paul knows that wines taste best when naturally produced.  Favoring wild yeasts and neutral woods, Daumen is a man of manual labor, who hand harvests his 100+ year old vines, punches down caps, and controls temperatures not with the aid of a computer system, but by checking the temperatures of tanks by hand, and regulating with “drapes”–the aluminum piping that carries hot or cold water to heat or cool the tanks.

Jean-Paul is a man who “does things his way and only his way,” says Patrick, our brand manager, who just returned from France.  Adhering not to syndicate mandates, Daumen eschews the two syndicate bottle designs for Chateauneuf du Pape–the embossed papal cap and the keys and crest.  “A very quiet man,” says Patrick of Jean-Paul, “who is very well respected… humble and very smart.”

From thick gnarled old vines of Grenache, Jean-Paul creates rich, concentrated wines. A man who doesn’t push to sell his wares for the sake of selling, Daumen will soon be shipping his 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve, which Patrick said is drinking great.  “It struck me the most,” he said, “the tannins have softened, there’s a silky texture and aromatically, it’s starting to show earthy, mushroom, and leather” notes.  And while the ’06 is ready to drink, the ’05 is youthful and worthy of aging.

“Chateauneuf du Pape is my favorite wine region in France,” said Patrick.  “I’m excited to add one like this, that’s been off the radar for a few years.  We’re very lucky to have him.”

 In addition to the Chateauneuf du Pape and the Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve, Jean-Paul also makes Cotes du Rhone, rouge and blanc.  Here, the terroir and the age of the vines are what matter most, and so from his site specific old vines on lieu-dit Clavin, Daumen produces single vineyard high quality Cotes du Rhone wines.  In 2008, Decanter’s “Wines of the Year” issue gave five stars to the 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape, to compliment the high scores that it consistently received in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Deep ruby violet in color, the 2009 Cotes du Rhone shows finely integrated notes of black plum fruit with bright acidity, walnut skins, a hint of coffee, and leather tannins.  And while there is some inventory that’s currently on hand, there will be more bottles in stock in the fall, along with a significant shipment of the older vintage Chateauneuf du Pape wines, arriving just in time for the holidays this year.

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