Posted on 19th November 2021 by JN Wine
We at JN Wine are delighted to welcome a truly unique new addition to our portfolio in the form of ‘Odyssée’. This truly frontier-defying wine is a relatively new project by winemaker Pierre Graffeuille, director of Domaines Delon (which includes the iconic estates of Château Léoville-Las Cases, Clos du Marquis and Château Nenin – staples of the JN en primeur offering) alongside nonconformist Rhône vigneron, Matthieu Dumarcher.
Starting in 2015, this ambitious ‘throwback’ project was conceived with a nod to the so-called ‘Hermitage blends’ of the 19th and early 20th century, in which Bordeaux winemakers ‘improved’ their wines from difficult vintages with the addition of a little – usually undeclared – Northern Rhône Syrah. With ‘Odyssée 2018’, this dynamic duo marries Cabernet Sauvignon from the swathes of deep gravel in the northern Médoc with Grenache and Counoise from the galets-strewn, clay-limestone soils of the Terrasses du Rhône between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. With modern appellation laws forbidding such trans-regional blending practices today, ‘Odyssée’ is instead declassified to a humble ‘Vin de France’ – a once middling certification that is now being utilised by forward-thinking producers that choose to eschew convention in favour of pursuing their own idiosyncratic visions; and idiosyncratic ‘Odyssée’ certainly is…
Pierre sources the Cabernet from 50-60-year-old vines to the north of Saint-Estèphe where it is vinified before being matured in used Léoville-Las Cases barrels and then transferred to the Rhône. Here the Grenache and Counoise are sourced from a higher-altitude vineyard just 30km north of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in which the vines are aged between 60-70-years and farmed using organic practices. Using both barrels and amphora to age the Rhône components, the vignerons undertake a pre-blend and then a final blend before bottling, with total maturation running 18-22 months. The result is a wine that exhibits a balance and seamlessness that belies its disparate ingredients: the Cabernet providing the foundation with its structure of broad tannins and taut acidity; the Grenache bolstering the mid-palate with its generous, plump fruit; and the Counoise consolidating the blend with its high-toned, spicy aromatics; all the while melded by a tasteful, cedar-spiced oak underpinning.
From a production level of just 3,000 bottles in 2015, 8,000 bottles were made in 2018, with the duo promising that production will never exceed 12,000 bottles in order the maintain the highest quality. With that in mind, we are truly excited to offer this exclusive allocation to JN customers of a wine that we are confident will garner cult-following before long. But don’t just take our word for it – here’s what Lisa Perrotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate had to say about the 2018 vintage:
“Composed of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Grenache, and 7%
Counoise, the 2018 Odyssée has a deep garnet color, bursting from the glass
with a whole array of exotic spices notes—cumin seed, star anise, cardamom and
cassia—over a core of stewed black plums, warm cassis and blackberry preserves,
with hints of dark chocolate, lavender and tapenade. The full-bodied palate is
jam-packed with concentrated black and blue fruits, framed by firm, rounded
tannins and beautiful freshness, finishing very long with a peppery kick. A
little more structured than previous vintages and with such impressive
concentration, this should easily cellar 25 years or more. 95 points.”
(Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, 22nd July 2021)
Odyssée 2018 is available now through our website, for delivery or collection as well for purchase in store at our Crossgar shop.