Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Rhône-lover’s Rhône

Up on now.

2005 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Parallèle 45
Rating: ***½

As part of my New Year’s resolution to only drink wines that are uncompromisingly spectacular, monumentally food-friendly and absurdly cheap, I bring to you the 2005 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Parallèle 45.

Diligent Vinapediacs such as yourself will recall my waxing lyrical on the California Rhône-style blends and it was in the course of rigorous investigative journalism that I decided the only noble thing to do is sacrifice myself and launch into an exploration of Rhône Rhône-blends. I mean, it’s the only decent thing, right?

I was fully expecting these sorts of wines to prove serviceable at table and none-too-abusive of my cash reserves. What I was not expecting was the near-uniform goodness these wines what can only be called, in the technical argot of the industry, “way cheap prices.” Yes, you could drum up four-figure invoices with a few judiciously chosen bottles if you wanted to. But why would you want to? Unless you have become enthralled with serious wine expenditures as a means to shelter income from confiscatory taxes – in which case, keep in mind my day job is right in that field and I will travel – there is no reason to do so.

One of the very big wheels in Rhône wines is Paul Jaboulet Aîné. Not only in importance is this big wheelness manifested, but also in the bewildering gamut of wines bearing this imprimatur. To give you an idea, if you were to traipse (on foot or, more easily, online) merrily seeking to purchase one bottle of each bottling, you’d be saddled with almost ten cases of generally wonderful wine. In which case I remind you that I will travel to render assistance.

This wine, which I have kindly chosen to focus upon on your behalf, will certainly provide you with reverse sticker shock. The official price is a paltry $10 a bottle, but you’d have a serious job finding it for more than $8. As I reviewed my receipts and tasting notes, I simply could not believe this wine was priced correctly. To be blunt, this wine is too inexpensive and too food friendly to be believed.

In the glass, it is a limpid purple with some crimson, and a clean blueberry/floral nose. The first tastes are of blueberries (What? Again?) and blackberries , with hints (and I mean hints) of currants and sun dried plums and a half-floral (violet?) half-minerally edge. It has a racy acidity and just enough tannins to give it a bit of scaffolding to make purchasing a case for consumption through the next few months an eminently reasonable proposition. This wine is ideally paired with foods that would be just a bit too overpowering for a rosé. An herby crown roast of pork with savory-sweet aspect to play the complementary card, or something along the moderately spiced ragout (sausage, mushrooms, etc.) spectrum if you wanted to showcase a pleasant contrast…that sort of thing.

If I told you it was $20/bottle, you would be right to sprint to your local Wine Shack, but at $8? You should leave skidmarks in your parking lot.


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