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Cellar Tasting Daumen and Vieille Julienne

T. Edward Wines, Organic Wine Importer, Domaine de la Vieliie Julienne, Jean-Paul Daumen, Karen Ulrich for T. Edward Wines

On Tuesday, we waxed-poetic about the amazing Jean-Paul Daumen of Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, but what we didn’t mention is his second line of wines, Daumen.  Aiming to capture the passion of his younger vine-growing peers, Jean-Paul decided to work with a select few organic growers, including two who used to be employed with the Domaine, whose fruit might best represent the philosophy behind the wines at Vieille Julienne.  Released in 2010, Daumen is a winemaking project that gives a home to Jean-Paul’s declassified fruit while allowing him to maintain working relationships with growers in different appellations.  “I like the wines to be in the style of Vieille Julienne,” Jean-Paul said of Daumen, who “guides the winemaking process, with the least intervention possible,” to make “modest wines [that are] straight from the heart”.

“The new negociant label, Daumen, which Jean-Paul started in 2010 is incredibly exciting,” said Patrick Burke, our French Portfolio Director.  “The wines are all made at La Vieille Julienne.  Jean-Paul even has all the source vineyards farmed exactly to his specifications so, really, you’re getting the quality of a thoroughbred for the price of a pony.  Bordeaux collectors that don’t have the deepest pockets go crazy for all the second wines from First Growths.  With Daumen, you really are getting La Vieille Julienne’s second wines for a song.”

With wines that span the gamut from the Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve 2010 (99 points–Robert Parker), to Daumen Lirac 2010 (which scored 91), Jean-Paul employs the same techniques in the cellar with no regard to financial gain.  “This summer I asked Jean-Paul if he would look in his cellar and tell me if he would be willing to sell me an old vintage or two,” said Burke. “I love being able to offer older vintages during the holidays, and I had no reason to suspect that he would make an unbelievably generous offer of library Vieille Julienne going back to 2003.  He offered me a little bit of everything he made in Chateauneuf, including Reservé, every vintage going back to 2003!  I quickly put out an offer sheet before he changed his mind, and not surprisingly everything sold out in a week.”

While visiting with Jean-Paul we had the great opportunity to taste with him in the cellar. Beginning with the wines of Daumen and working our way onto the Vieille Julienne Reserve, we hung on his words like tendrils and soared over the scape of his vineyards, which are eloquently illustrated by Jean-Paul in the video of his vineyards below.

Beginning in the cellar with Daumen Vaucluse Principaute d’Orange Rouge 2010, Jean-Paul explained that half of this fruit (30% Grenache and 15% Syrah) comes from lieu-dit Clavin, while the (35%) Cabernet Sauvignon and (15%) Merlot come from Orange.  And because his grandfather added fruit trees to the property, the Syrah and Grenache are classified VdP.  Demeter certified, the fruit is cement fermented and aged for 1-year on 5,000L old oak foudres.  Floral with notes of orange blossoms on the nose and palate, accompanied by a mid-palate spice and dried herb notes of rosemary and thyme, the acidity is lovely and the tannins grip leathery on the finish.

From four different Cotes du Rhone parcels including La Berthaude, Maucoil and Bois Lauzon, the Daumen Cotes du Rhone 2010 is a blend of 60% Grenache and 20% Syrah with the remaining a blend of Cinsault, Mourvedre and old-vine Carignan.  Slightly smokey with bright fruit and acidity, the Daumen CdR is also Demeter certified and cement vinified with a touch of cooling herbs on the finish.

T. Edward Wines, Daumen, organic wine importer, Karen Ulrich for T. Edward Wines

Given 91 Parker points, the Daumen Lirac 2010 is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 10% 80-year-old Carignan.  “I found a parcel north facing with sand,” said Jean-Paul.  “Most important is the location, more than the varietal.”  With aromas of purple flowers, dark fruit, anise, cocoa and a lingering light pepper spice, the Lirac shows bright acidity mid-palate and gentle tannins.  “…the 2010 Lirac is one of the finest Liracs I have ever tasted,” wrote Parker.

A blend of 65% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, 10% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault, the Chateauneuf du Pape 2008 “resembles a Pinot Noir,” said Jean-Paul, “because it was a year of high acidity.  2008 was very special,” he added, and indeed the tannins are silky and the acidity is bright with a touch of dried herbs and anise.   Of the 2009, which is more ripe and concentrated with chewy tannins, Parker wrote: “The 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape from the domaine has turned out much better than I predicted last year.  A blend of 70% Grenache and the rest Syrah, Counoise, Mourvedre and Cinsault from the very northern sectors of CdP, on terraces just north of Chateau Cabrieres and Domaine Mas de Boislauzon, this deep purple wine has a gorgeous nose of fresh blueberries and kirsch, with almost meaty chewy richness, loads of glycerin, full body, stunning concentration and purity.” (94 points)

“In the Rhone there isn’t a tradition for parcels,” said Jean-Paul. “My inspiration came from Burgundy.”  With a grandfather who traded with a friend from Burgundy, Jean-Paul said, “They’d have barrels of Pinot Noir in the cellar, and my grandfather said that 30 years ago Pinot Noir and Grenache were similar.”  Made with fruit from two lieu-dits in the northern sector of CdP, “les Trois Sources” 2010 is a blend of 70% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre, Counoise, Cinsault and more planted to sandy soils.  With some parcels of Grenache over 100 years old, and 40% of the remaining vineyards 80-90 years old, “les Trois Sources” 2010 offers dark fruit, licorice and floral aromas with a silky mouthfeel and leathery tannins on the finish. (Parker, 96 points)

T. Edward Wines, organic wine importer, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne

With only 6,000 bottles produced, the Chateauneuf du Pape “les Hauts Lieux” 2010 is a treasure from limestone soils.  A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 5% Counoise and 5% Cinsault that was fermented in cement and aged in foudres and 1-3 year old barrels, “les Hauts Lieux” 2010 shows dark fruit, rose petals, licorice and slightly meaty notes.  The acidity is bright mid-palate and the finish spiced with black pepper.  “The stunning purity, full-bodied mouthfeel and voluptuous long finish make for a potentially legendary Chateauneuf du Pape,” writes Parker. (93+ points)

“Sadly, this profound Chateauneuf du Pape is nearly impossible to find,” wrote Parker of the Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve 2010.  Famously, in 2007 when everyone else made a reserve vintage, Jean-Paul didn’t feel that his Reserve was good enough and so he blended it into his Chateauneuf du Pape. Three years later, this wine hit 99 points with Parker.  With only 500 cases made, from yields that are under 20hl/ha, the Reserve 2010 is dark berried in fruit with purple flowers and bright acidity.  “…the vines utilized for the Reserve were planted in 1904,” writes Parker.  “There is a sappy precision to its formidably endowed, massive mouthfeel…It should evolve easily for 20-25 years.

Click here for Part I, Philosophizing the Vines at Domaine de la Vieille Julienne

For more on selections by Jean-Paul Daumen, read here…

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