Four wines

1999 Jasmin, Côte-Rôtie:
Make no mistake – this is terrific syrah; but, at the moment, there is little terroir here and not a lot of aromatic complexity; with air, it does open and gains nuance to the point that I think this is just a short while away from being at one of its drinking stages. I sense this is moving away from the feminine character of its first ten years of life, to a more masculine incarnation now and in the future. If you drink it now, decant.

2008 Giacosa, Roero Arneis:
The aromatics need some time open to come into full flower; apple, resin and mineral in the mouth with a softening that happens with airing but not to the point of losing the bright acidity this wine carries from start to finish. Maybe needs a year in the cellar; and when is the last time one could say that about an arneis?

2007 Ridge, Carignane Buchignani Ranch:
As is usual with Ridge, the label has a lengthy description of the élevage which includes the following: “It aged for twelve months in air-dried American oak (10% new, 20% one and two years old, 70% three and four years old.”
If that is true, this is “under-fruited.” All I could smell or taste was wood; overwhelming wood. I detected some nice textures at mid-palate and a hint of fruit, but even that dried out on the finish.
While I enjoy the label recitations, this barrel program didn’t work. Not in the least bit, enjoyable.

1997 Jaboulet, Hermitage La Chapelle:
A nose of game, cheese, fresh meat and truffles, some black and red fruit, and a sauvage element – all together, very enticing; lives up to the nose in the mouth with a worsted texture, flavors that expand upon the elements of the nose, almost hidden tannin and a balanced, long and detailed finish. Showing very well right now and all that Hermitage should be. IMO, the last vintage this house got it right.
(Aside: on release I bought several cases of this wine and have drunk through most of the 750’s over the years. I still have the magnums left, but I have yet to have a single bottle that did not impress; whether as a young, strapping illustration of syrah or now, as fine example of aged Hermitage. I have heard others say different but, not having a single disappointment, I feel myself very lucky.)

Best, Jim


As usual, great notes. Can you expand on your statement about the 1997 Jaboulet being the last vintage they got right and why it changed? Never had this before but I do have a couple of 2005s sleeping in the cellar.


Although I have not tasted the 2005, since 1997 I have found the La Chapelle to be less distinctively Hermitage and more oaky.
Perhaps, given sufficient time in the cellar, those things will change. I am basing my assessments on previous vintages (pre-1997) and suspect that the winemaking changed in 1998.
But I have not visited and have no independent knowledge of the practices at Jaboulet, so all of this is just impression.
Best, Jim