Aime Sabon established this estate in 1973 when he took over from his father who had spent a lot of time and effort improving fruit quality but always sold the fruit to the local co-operative. The operation of the estate is now in the hands of Aime’s children, Christophe and Isabelle.
Grapes are 50-80% destemmed. The Grenache gets a short 3-day cold soak then undergoes a lengthy fermentation with daily punch downs before being aged in large foudre to have a slower micro-oxidation. The Syrah and Mourvedre, in contrast, are aged in smaller barrels to allow for more interaction with oxygen so as to mitigate the more tannic structure of these grape varietals. There is only a small portion of new wood. After 12-14 months the wine is blended and, after a further period in tank, is bottled the following spring.
In addition to the regular bottling - called Tradition – there is a Cuvee Chaupin, which comes from seven hectares of old vine Grenache aged in foudres and demi-muids, and a Vielles Vignes bottling from six hectares of old vine plantings of all three grape types located in different terroirs so as to complement each other – galets giving breadth and power, sand providing aromatics and fresh acidity, stony red clay providing structure and sandy limestone contributing finesse.
Domaine de la Janasse is an exceptional estate, blessed with a lot of old vines.
Much more powerful and closed, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes comes more from the La Crau and La Janasse lieux-dits and is the usual blend of mostly Grenache with a touch of Syrah. Blackberries, graphite, scorched earth, pepper, and sappy garrigue all emerge on the nose, and it's full-bodied, has beautiful concentration, polished tannins, and a great finish. Nothing is out of place, and this perfectly balanced, authoritative, powerful, and incredibly impressive 2020 will benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age and evolve for 15-20 years in cold cellars.jd
Not as rich or concentrated as I was expecting the 2020 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes still delivers ample layers of dark fruit hints of cola mint and spice elements. It's full-bodied silky and long but it looks to fall short of the quality heights reached by some other recent vintages.
This is brimming with dark cherry blackberry and boysenberry compote flavors that spill forth laced with generous licorice snap tar graphite and black tea notes. A nice tug of iron appears very late on the finish as the fruit lingers on. Grenache Syrah and Mourvèdre. Best from 2024 through 2040. ?J.M.