New wines appear continuously, but rarely with the pedigree and quality of Maison Nicolas Perrin 2007 St. Joseph.
Maison Nicolas Perrin combines members from two great French wine families. Nicolas comes from Nicolas Jaboulet, family member of France’s renowned Jaboulet winery. That he can’t use his last name on the new wine label results from the 2006 sale agreement of Jaboulet’s prized northern Rhone Valley vineyards and business to Jean-Jacques Frey, owner of Bordeaux’s Chateau La Lagune. Perrin is the family that owns the outstanding Chateau de Beaucastel in the southern Rhone Valley village, Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Jaboulet, 38, and Marc Perrin, 40, formed a joint venture buying red wines from the northern Rhone just after the alcoholic fermentation (the process of changing grape juice to wine). The wine is transferred to barrels that were used for one vintage with Chateau Beaucastel’s white wine, than aged and bottled at Beaucastel.
In March, Jaboulet previewed the four wines that Maison Nicolas Perrin delivered in April to the New Jersey market: Hermitage Blanc, Ermitage Rouge (the ancient spelling for Hermitage), Cote-Rotie and St. Joseph, all from the 2007 vintage.
The first three wines are all tasty renditions whose prices ($75-$90 dollars a bottle) put them in the “special occasion” category where Hermitage and Cote-Rotie are nearly always found. The St. Joseph, however, represents a better buying opportunity because the appellation is unknown and the wine is well-made.
Like the Ermitage and Cote-Rotie, St. Joseph is made from Syrah. But it differs from both of its prestigious neighbors because French wine regulations allow up to 10 percent blending with two indigenousness Rhone Valley white grapes, roussanne and marsanne. In my experience, St. Joseph benefits from blending as the syrah in this appellation can produce a rough-and-ready red wine. Maison Nicolas Perrin added a few percentage points of white wine to its St. Joseph.
The 2007 Maison Nicolas Perrin St. Joseph is a bright ruby-colored wine. Blackberry and a mix of clove and cinnamon scents please the nose; the mouth receives ripe blackberry and black cherry flavors with tannin and acidity that lets you know this is a wine to be paired with rib eye steak, grilled lamb chops, and other robust foods.
The 2007 wines are Maison Nicolas Perrin’s debut; the young scions of these two superb winemaking families are bringing to their new venture the professional dedication that is part of their DNA. This first vintage was made in minuscule quantities, and New Jersey received a few cases of each wine, so don’t delay in getting yours.
The 2007 Maison Nicolas Perrin St.Joseph retails for approximately $39.