Saturday, February 8, 2014

Parker points 2014

It's out!  And so with no further ado…… (these are my wines from the vineyard in Maury in the Roussillon and tasting notes on my Fitou should be out next month)

DOMAINE JONES ROUGE 2010                   92 POINTS
Parker 2014
Raised in used demi-muids and tank, and incorporating with its Grenache around 10% Carignan (subjected to separate bottling the vintages before) Jones’s 2010 Jones Rouge is scented with fresh, ultra-ripe red raspberry and strawberry accompanied by intimations of iodine, rosemary oil, smoky black tea, crushed stone and piquant crushed fruit pit, all of which figure on a palate lusciously juicy and expansive, intensely-fruited yet incorporating invigorating ping of crunched berry seeds; medicinal herbal-mineral piquancy; and a saliva-liberating lick of salt. The finish here is as penetratingly persistent as it is infectiously mouthwatering. As usual, this bottling offers no just a terrific introduction to the wiles of pure-fruited Maury Grenache, but one full of genuine intrigue and issuing an irresistible invitation to have the next glass without weighing-down your palate or dulling your imagination! It’s sure to continue drinking well through at least 2015; and as a longer track record accumulates we’ll discover whether that prognosis is conservative. And based on ex-cellars pricing (I have not been able to track-down U.S. retail) this is also one amazing value.

DOMAINE JONES ROUGE 2011                   90 POINTS
Parker 2014

The 2011 Jones rouge – whose constituents and elevage are very like those of its 2010 predecessor reviewed here as well – is less richly concentrated or mineral than that wine, but exhibits its own virtues. Fresh, ripe strawberry and red raspberry come off with shrub-like effusiveness and juiciness but free of any superficial sweetness, while a saline streak enhances mouthwatering appeal and skins and seeds of berry serve for invigoratingly tart tang. Generous and open, this finishes with exuberance, impressive persistence, as well as downright refreshment relatively rare among Roussillon reds. My suspicion is that it will be best enjoyed by 2015.
Parker 2014

Jones was waiting for her 2012 Grenache to complete malo when I visited this past spring, so I cannot report on what will eventually become Jones Rouge from that vintage other than to say that it is going to texturally polished and full of pure fruit but also complexity.

DOMAINE JONES BLANC 2011                  90 POINTS
Parker 2014

From the same stand of Grenache Gris that informed its 2009 and 2010 predecessors, (minus its mingling of Muscat vines, whose fruit is now subject to separate bottling), the 2011 Jones Blanc certainly suffers no dilution from the effects of what by this vintner’s standards represents an inexplicably generous 25 hectoliters per hectare. (Her old black vines had essentially their usual low yields in this vintage; only Jones’s Grenache Gris seems capricious.) Luscious lime, pineapple, and grapefruit are shot-through with saline, stony and somehow crystalline mineral impingements for a positively shimmering impression. Lentil sprout-like vegetal and nutty piquancy as well as a hint of iodine serve for further counterpoint and intrigue en route to a mouthwateringly lingering finish. I suspect that this will drink beautifully through 2015, and quite possibly beyond. Based on its ex-cellars price, it will have proven an exceptional value, and it’s regrettable that none of it seems to have made it to the U.S.

DOMAINE JONES BLANC 2012                  (89-90 POINTS)
Parker 2014

The 2012 Jones Blanc is sadly more than merely reduced in volume from previous years. In fact, it represents the mere remnant left in an outdoor tank that was drained in an act of vandalism. And since Jones needs some wine with which to top-off her ongoing experiment in long barrel-elevage (whose rather overtly woody 2009 instantiation I refrain from detailing, as it had just been bottled when I tasted it this spring), the present 2012 was being held in a tiny tank for that purpose, and at most a miniscule amount will end-up being bottled on its own. Since Jones only discovered her victimization after several days’ absence at a trade fair, she was suspicious that this remnant might have been compromised by oxidation or bacteriological infestation; but in a demonstration of its resilience, this Grenache Gris is on a qualitative level comparable with its predecessors. Luscious pineapple, lime, and grapefruit inform a florally accented nose and plush, expansive palate. This might lack quite the salinity or focus of the 2010, but it’s still invigorating in its lime rind and pineapple core impingement; and piquant nuttiness offers counterpoint in a long, refreshing finish.

DOMAINE JONES SWEET MUSCAT 2012                  91 POINTS
Parker 2014

The late-picked, stopped-fermentation 2012 Jones Muscat represents a lighter (at 11.5% alcohol) and correspondingly sweeter variation on her delightfully distinctive 2009 rendition from a small number of petits grains vines inter-planted with Jones’s Grenache Gris. Orange and lime rinds infused in syrup; laced with honeydew melon liqueur; and garlanded with orange blossom, honeysuckle and mint, make for a seductively-scented and lusciously, insistently lingering finish. Too bad that there were only 26 6-packs of half bottles produced – half the volume of the 2009 – but this elixir represents a dramatic demonstration of Muscat’s potential in Southern France if subjected to an alternative approach in both the vineyard and cellar. And given how superficially sweet and ultimately uninteresting are the vast majority of Muscats Rivesaltes, it’s hard not to imagine that many of Roussillon’s and the Languedoc’s ancient vines – not to mention we wine lovers – would benefit from such a change of approach, albeit at the price of relinquishing any specific appellation.

Katie Jones – for more about whose estate and approach consult my report in issue 195 – has happily augmented her acreage since I last reported (including in appellation Fitou, whose latest exciting exemplars chez Jones I’ll review in my separate report on wines of the Languedoc). Especially felicitous in view of the quality of her Grenache Gris-based white is that she has managed to secure five more acres of that relatively rare cepage, inter-planted with Carignan Gris and Blanc in Paziol. So future whites here will straddle the line between Roussillon (where, north of Maury, a substantial share of Domaine Jones’s vines still reside) and the Languedoc. To accommodate these new sources of juice, Jones has acquired and will soon occupy the long, thickly stone-walled, abandoned stone engine house of the former Tuchan railway terminus, an imposing edifice that should be ideally suited for vinification and cellaring purposes. (Such idle engine houses dot Roussillon and the Languedoc, so ambitious young growers should check-out their options.) Sadly and shockingly, Jones’ 2012 white – which had been parked in tank behind a fence just outside of her cramped existing winery – got emptied in an act of sabotage, so that the wine on which I report represents only the small volume left in the bottom. Jones was waiting for her 2012 Grenache to complete malo when I visited this past spring, so I cannot report on what will eventually become Jones Rouge from that vintage other than to say that it is going to texturally polished and full of pure fruit but also complexity.

David Schildknecht

January 2014