We are delighted to announce an incredibly exciting virtual masterclass featuring two iconic French estates from Bordeaux’s Haut-Médoc and the Rhône’s Hermitage - Château La Lagune and Paul Jaboulet Aîné.
Owner and Winemaker/Oenologist Caroline Frey will be joined by Decanter’s Bordeaux and Rhône correspondents, Jane Anson and Matt Walls, to present a specially curated selection of wines and vintages from the two estates.
Beginning with La Chapelle Blanc from magnum, the tasting will then explore four vintages from the Bordeaux third-growth estate La Lagune before examining three vintages of the iconic Hermitage La Chapelle from Paul Jaboulet Aîné dating back to 1991.
The tasting will culminate in a showcase of two wines which reflect the history and style of both regions. Evidence par Caroline 2011, a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from La Lagune and Syrah from Caroline’s Domaine de Thalabert estate in Crozes-Hermitage. These will be followed by two vintages of Duo par Caroline Frey, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from La Lagune’s prime vineyard plots and Syrah from the iconic Hermitage La Chapelle, co-fermented in barrel and bottled only in magnums and jeroboams.
Caroline will also explain the importance of biodynamics - a key practice across both estates, “Viticulture must be an accompaniment to nature and not a fight. To achieve this harmony, biodynamics is an obvious philosophy that allows us to better understand and therefore better care for the vine.”
This will be a truly unique tasting experience for both Left-Bank Bordeaux and Rhône fans alike, where you will be able to taste 11 exemplary wines demonstrating the exceptional qualities of both regions.
Date: Saturday 24 April 2021
Time: 19:00 – 20:30 BST
Hosts: Caroline Frey (La Lagune/Paul Jaboulet Aîné), Jane Anson and Matt Walls (Decanter)
Ticket types and price: £195 (including wine samples - UK only), £10 (link only - wines samples not included)
Click here for more information about ticket types
The Wines (in tasting order)
- Paul Jaboulet Aîné, La Chapelle Blanc, Hermitage, Rhône 2014 (from magnum)
- Château La Lagune, Haut-Médoc, 3ème Cru Classé 2016
- Château La Lagune, Haut-Médoc, 3ème Cru Classé 2010
- Château La Lagune, Haut-Médoc, 3ème Cru Classé 2009
- Château La Lagune, Haut-Médoc, 3ème Cru Classé 2000
- Paul Jaboulet Aîné, La Chapelle, Hermitage, Rhône 2016
- Paul Jaboulet Aîné, La Chapelle, Hermitage, Rhône 2010
- Paul Jaboulet Aîné, La Chapelle, Hermitage, Rhône 1991
- Evidence par Caroline 2011 (Des vignes de La Lagune à Paul Jaboulet Aîné)
- Duo par Caroline Frey 2016 (from magnum)
- Duo par Caroline Frey 2010 (from magnum)
Once you get beyond the Château La Lagune gates, it is difficult to resist this wonderful Chartreuse. This beautiful low house, showing an architecture from the neoclassicism of the 18th Century, is a widespread model throughout the Gironde. However, every mansion retains its own history in its walls.
La Lagune is a third growth estate in the 1855 Classification, and the highest ranked among this band of five Haut-Médoc estates. On paper, that also puts its above a host of the peninsula’s very biggest names, from Batailley, Grand Puy Lacoste and Dauzac to Pontet Canet and Lynch Bages, which are all fifth growths. The wines are recognised for their balance, finesse and elegance.
The property has been certified organic with Ecocert since the 2016 vintage, and will receive its biodynamic certification through the Biodyvin programme not before long.
Finding organic and biodynamic certified châteaux among the 1855 red wine names remains a minority sport, although La Lagune has good company in Latour, Palmer, Pontet Canet, Ferrière, Haut-Bages Libérale and Durfort Vivens.
Frey has taken this philosophy beyond the borders of her estate, with a full biodiversity programme that extends into the uncultivated lands in the area.
La Lagune, which sits on 120 hectares is one of the closest classified estates to the city of Bordeaux, lies on one of the pure gravel terraces of the southern Médoc. Here, warm but fine and deep gravel is underpinned by clay but also by sand. There is clear depth and character to La Lagune, which generally contains one of the highest amounts of Petit Verdot in the 1855 ranking. That can make the wines seem pretty closed in their early years before the graceful character comes through that can give so much pleasure for so many decades, without ever seeming to try too hard.
Read more in Château La Lagune: Tasting every vintage from 2004 to 2017 by Jane Anson exclusive to Decanter Premium here.
Established in 1834, the wines of Paul Jaboulet Aîné are produced with a view to preserving and enhancing soils.Its 120 hectares vineyard is entirely cultivated in organic farming with the greatest respect for the soil and biodiversity.
Biodynamics is also an integral part of its environmental commitment. In 2019, 81 hectares of vines are farmed biodynamically. The excellence of Paul Jaboulet Aîné wines is based on high quality fruit, enhanced by meticulous vinification and fine maturation. As a result, the jewel of the estate is the legendary Hermitage ‘La Chapelle’.
The Jaboulet business was deeply rooted in family. At least four members, brothers and cousins, were involved in both the winemaking and commercial side. A highly consistent négociant business, as well as being a producer from its own extensive vineyards, led to Jaboulet becoming the most visible of the great Rhône houses. In 2006 Jaboulet was bought by the Frey family, owners of Champagne house Billecart-Salmon and of Château La Lagune in Bordeaux.
On arrival, Caroline Frey took on the role of winemaker and immediately sought to improve the health of the vineyards. Working the soils mechanically rather than chemically was a challenge, particularly on the slopes, and it took time for the vines to adapt. By 2016 she achieved her goal of organic certification, and they have been incorporating some biodynamic principles (though are not yet certified) since 2013 and fully in biodynamics since 2017.
The name ‘La Chapelle’ brings to mind the chapel itself and its surrounding vineyards, but this is not a single vineyard wine; La Chapelle is just the name of the cuvée.
The wine itself is a blend of several lieux-dits: Le Bessards, Le Méal, Les Greffieux, Les Rocoules and Les Murets.
Read more in Matt Walls: Tasting Jaboulet La Chapelle from 1991 to 2019 exclusive to Decanter Premium here
Caroline Frey was born in the middle of the Champagne hillsides, in the Montagne de Reims. Proud of her Swiss and French roots, today she is one of the most exciting and respected winemakers in France, working organically and biodynamically at acclaimed properties in Bordeaux, the Rhône, Burgundy and Switzerland, and recipient of a Légion d’Honneur ‘order of merit’ for her services to winemaking.
After training in Oenology at the Institute of Oenology Bordeaux, Caroline graduated top of her class where she had been taught by her mentor Denis Dubourdieu. Caroline was only 24 when she was handed the keys to Château La Lagune in 2004 and found herself at the head of Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné two years later in 2006. The family also bought Château Corton C in 2015.
A great lover of nature, Caroline has always been inspired by a deep respect for the land, “I know not to hurt the microflora of the soil. It’s really about working the surface layer and being respectful. I would rather stop making wine than farm with chemicals – that’s how strongly I feel about it. No system is perfect of course, but for me organics and biodynamics is a way to bring freshness and vitality into a wine, which is increasingly important as a counterbalance to the impact of global warming. And vineyards are a heritage to be passed on. If I were not farming them in the most respectful way possible, I wouldn’t feel comfortable.’
It was this approach that led to her being awarded the national order of merit, although she is quick to say that it could only have been achieved with a great team around her, and that the recognition was for all of them.
Read more in Jane Anson’s “A rising star of French wine: Caroline Frey interview” exclusive to Decanter Premium here.
Jane Anson is Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent and columnist and has lived in the region since 2003. She is the author of Inside Bordeaux (BB&R Publishing 2020), Wine Revolution, The Club of Nine and Bordeaux Legends, a history of the 1855 First Growth wines, as well as co-author or translator of over a dozen wine and travel books.
Jane has won several awards for her writing, including Louis Roederer Wine Online Communicator of the Year 2020, and Born Digital Best Editorial 2020.
She is a graduate of the DUAD tasting diploma with the Bordeaux Institute of Oenology and an accredited wine teacher at the Bordeaux École du Vin.
Matt Walls is an award-winning freelance wine writer and consultant, contributing regular articles to various print and online titles including Decanter, where he is a contributing editor and Rhône correspondent.
He is interested in all areas of wine, but specialises in those of the Rhône – he is Regional Chair for the Rhône at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
His first book on wine, Drink Me!, won Best Newcomer at the 2013 Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards. His second book, Wines of the Rhône, was published by Infinite Ideas as part of their Classic Wine Library series in January 2021.