Me & Mrs Jones – We have a Thing Goin’ On…

Earlier last year I wrote about the Vineyard Rambles taking place on Instagram over lockdown, by Katie Jones from Domaine Jones in the village of Tuchan, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Last summer I ordered a mixed case from Katie, as we continued to enjoy the rambles, from vineyard to winery as the 2020 Harvest came in and the wine-making commenced for the Vintage.

I have been working my way through the wines, and saving the two rarest wines for a special occasion. Well, last night was one of those nights. The twelfth anniversary of my far better half and I meeting in person for the first time, in London, and so, it was time to pull the cork on one of those bottles. The bottles in question are the La Perle Rare Syrah de Falandrin 2015. The grapes come from a single vineyard, Falandrin, marked with an arrow in the tea-towel map above, (available from the shop at the website), with only a couple of barrels, aged in the finest of French Oak for 12 months, produced each year. The bottles are numbered, and the one I opened last night was #450 of 800 from 2015.

What can I say about this wine? I am not one for hyperbole, but despite having been fortunate to enjoy some tremendous wines in recent weeks, mainly from my Italian Collection, this wine is certainly up with the very best I have tasted in recent years, an absolute delight, and the only disappointment I have is that I have only one more bottle of this heavenly juice sitting in my cellar. The 2016 is available now, so I will be making a point of ordering some before too long, (bit of an issue in deliveries at the moment thanks to Brexit), hope Katie can save me some.

SO – Why did I find it so special?

I am always in two minds as to whether or not I should decant. Rule of thumb, I open the bottle, pour a small amount into the glass, and judge the feel of the wine (also helps for the pictures!). The very obvious first glance at the drop poured, the dark, inky liquid, had me. The aroma rising strongly from the pool of juice had an earthiness, with vanilla essence, and fruit fighting to come through – It needed to mellow, and so into the Decanter to develop, as we started on cooking dinner.

Two hours later, the sirloin steaks cooked, the vegetables served, and the dining table set, it was time to fill our glasses from the decanter. The mellowing had taken place, with the aromas now being led by the fruits, raspberry and blackberry, followed by that oaky vanilla, and toast, with the earthiness still there, but now reduced to a minority partner. As we took our first sips, the flavours were to explode in the mouth. Ripe red fruit, followed by caramel, with hints of liquorice, the toastiness from the French oak, spice notes too, which lingered long on the finish, black pepper, even cinnamon, combined with the flavours from the steak providing an absolutely wonderful combination. The silky smoothness of the wine further developed, long after the dinner was complete, and the last sips taken had me almost begging for more.

As I say, this wine ranks up there with the best that I have tasted in recent years. If you haven’t checked out the wines coming from this area of Southern France from the hands of Katie Jones, you are missing out on absolute delights. Katie is continuing her rambles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8:30am (French time), 7:30am for me here in Ireland, and while that time may not be great for my American friends, the Rambles are available on Instagram Live IGTV later in the day, and well worth viewing, giving an insight to the year of the Vineyard.

I know this is a cliche, especially for those of us of a certain vintage, but as the title of this post, and Billy Paul once said, “Me and Mrs Jones, We got a thing, goin’ on”, and in this case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Le Due Porte 2015 – Il Palazzone

I recently wrote about the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino from the Il Palazzone winery, which I enjoyed on Christmas Eve. Following on from that, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to sample the first of my very Special Single Vineyard bottles of their Le Due Porte from 2015. This was the first year that Brunello has been made from grapes solely from the high altitude plot, just outside of the town of Montalcino itself, some 540m above sea level. With only 1.24 hectares of vines, on sandstone and loam soil, the supply was to be limited.

2015 was a spectacular year for Brunello, and Italy as a whole, and the early expectations of superb vintages to develop over time are well documented by others far more knowledgeable than myself. I have already cellared bottles from a number of different Montalcino producers of the 2015, but this was to be my first sample of the year, having been tipped off that, while it will mature to even greater delights over time, it was drinking superbly today, and so I decided to take the plunge.

The wine was matured in Slovenian Oak for 36 months, before being transferred to two 10HL oak barrels to complete the ageing, before finally maturing in the bottle before release late last year. Only 2209 75cl bottles were produced (plus a small number of larger editions), and each bottle is individually labelled, my first being number 218.

Given the youthfulness of the wine, it was clear that a lengthy decant was in order, and as I was preparing a Top Rump Beef Joint, needing plenty of cooking time, I pulled the cork and decanted early in the afternoon, giving a good three hours of time to open up, as I headed to the kitchen to commence the meal preparation.

The decant was perfect, and once dinner was ready and served, I poured my first glass. The colour that was glowing in the decanter oozed into the glass, the rich translucent ruby red liquid caught the light, flickering as it settled, granting a bewitching first impression.

Immediate aromas of fruits leapt from the glass, the familiar cherry tones of Sangiovese, laced with red fruits, raspberries and plums, and if I wasn’t mistaken, hints of licorice, tobacco and salted caramel, (I guess even my nose had fell in line that all caramel aromas come salted these days!). One thing I did note, given the vinification and maturation in oak, was there were no over-reaching aromas from the oak, just subtleties from the tobacco, nothing over-powering.

Onto the taste – The ripe fruits filled the mouth. Once again, the familiar cherry, with a freshness from the acidity which exaulted the flavours, developing each second, from cherry to raspberry, with savory spices rounding off the profile, before a hint of minerality, an earthiness trying to come through. The texture was rounded, with the tannins, although present, not fighting for appearance, just combining with all the other elements to produce an overall perfectly harmonious taste, with a length that belied the fact that I had swallowed the wine, leaving a lingering sensation of something exceptional.

They say that 2015 was a Vintage of a lifetime, although, I am lead to believe that 2016 is to be a match. I was accused of infanticide by a friend for opening this so early, and while I plead guilty to the desire to explore this wine today, it is absolutely drinkable now as a superb example of what can be done with Sangiovese in Montalcino under an expert hand, and with a single plot. I am sure that the Le Due Porte 2015 will continue to improve in the years to come, and given its starting point, I look forward to the next time to see how perfection can be improved upon.