For a while there had been rumours of a rift between the brothers of the greatest estate in Cote-Rotie, Domaine Jamet.
Since the late 1980s, Jean-Paul and Jean-Luc had run their fathers’ domain with impeccable care and steadfastly traditional values. There was a sensible division of labour. Jean-Luc focussed on the vineyards, and Jean-Paul focussed on the winemaking. Why did they separate? There are plenty of soap-operaesque rumour but it is I guess, safest to say they had different visions for the future and leave it there.
It’s a novel situation. If you visit Jean-Paul’s new flash website, you can see that he has rubbed out all mark of Jean-Luc in the history of the estate and seeks to portray his lineage as the older brother as the true descendant of the spirit of Joseph Jamet, their father. He clearly benefits from the sense that the old wines that have made this such a legendary estate are part of his history, not Jean-Luc’s.
This is not the case. Jean-Luc was as much a part of the history as his brother, and as John Livingstone-Learmonth records, vinification, or at least the tasting and assemblage was a joint effort in the early days.
The vineyards have been broken up. Jean-Paul keeps the Cote Brune jewel, but, 4 hectares have been hewn from the original eight and both brothers have augmented to keep production of the two different estates relatively similar. Physically a wall runs down the middle of the estate and one winery is on one side, one on the other.
Jean-Luc’s 5 hectare Cote-Rotie holdings are mostly comprised: – Côte Bodin: 0,2 ha, Bonnivières: 0,6 ha, Chavaroche: 0,7 ha, Lancement: 0,75 ha, La Landonne: 0,17 ha, Mornachon: 0,86 ha, Les Moutonnes: 0,43 ha, Les Rochins: 0,3 ha, Tartaras: 0,13 ha
In addition to those prime Northern vineyard sites, he also holds 2 hectares of CDR and IGP, mostly from the plateau around the winery, Vallin and Bonniviere.
In order to raise new funds for the new cellar, JL sold approximately 75% of his production in 2013, 50% in 2014 and 25% in 2015. The first few vintages showed considerable promise, but I feel they were not totally representative of what he was looking to do. He was seasoning new barrels with wine. So, they show a bit oakier and perhaps a bit drier than the ideal he is going for. He believes that the first fill of a barrel is really important and has to be done with the same wine – he won’t buy second hand barrels from another estate. A change from the Jean-Paul wines is also in destemming, he tends to do a bit less full-bunch and ages for less time in barrel, this gives the wines a bit more a floral, mineral character when they’re young.
It’s with the 2015s that I think he has found his groove. The wines are incredible, and he has finally changed the labels after considerable pleading to ones that much more are in tune with the Jamet tradition.
I believe and I hope that in years to come, the relationship between the two Jamet brothers will be rather like that of Pascal and Francoise Cotat – wines that are a bit different in character but generally considered at the same quality level.
I also believe 2015 will reward early faith, as his star ascends, more people will take notice of the great work he’s doing and this is a great chance to get in at the start of his journey.
The first reviews are starting to come out – John Livingstone Learmonth says: “Given that Jean-Luc was almost entirely the vineyard man under the old, united family domaine, I have been agreeably impressed by the wines, which have got going since their debut.”
The 2015 Cote-Rotie is a 5* wine, and JLL says:
“The bouquet is bold, on beef stock, iron, dense black berries, has a poised, integral sweetness, airs of raspberry liqueur, oak smoke. It’s a solid start. The palate has the theme of mineral well placed through it, a lot of mountain of matter, thickening towards the finish. It holds sparkling and dense fruits – cassis, soaked cherries. It is vibrant and very full; there is real flair off its sun-dialled deck. It has great juice; it’s a treat to taste this. Decanting advised. “It has a lot of black fruits, a belle freshness to underpin it; it’s very long,” Jean-Luc Jamet. 12.5°.” ***** John Livingstone-Learmonth.