One look at the steeply perched, ancient terroirs of Northern Rhône’s Côte-Rôtie is enough to understand why farming them is a badge of honor, yet the Jamet family is fortunate enough to own 8 hectares among 25 of the appellation’s most superb parcels in 17 lieux-dits. Joseph Jamet started the domaine in 1950 with only a third of a hectare in the Côte Brune. Like many of his neighbors, his land had been planted to peach and apricot orchards, as they were easier to farm than the steep vineyard terraces of Côte-Rôtie. Over the years, however, Joseph began to acquire more vineyard parcels throughout the appellation, clearing and replanting several of them himself. Today, Jean-Paul his wife, Corinne, run the domaine and have made vast improvements to the estate by instigating soil studies and installing gravity-fed systems into their winery.
The Jamets farm the most challenging parcels above the village of Ampuis. Although the prestige of a Côte-Rôtie parcel is often judged by its exposure to the sun, they believe that each soil imparts its own unique character and flavor, and they choose the wine from the parcels that best represent the vintage. To achieve the right harmony in the final assemblage, they balance the proportion of grapes from the windy upper slopes that are higher in acidity with grapes from riper, sun-soaked mid-slopes. While the family strongly believes in separate vinifications of each parcel, ultimately, they look to produce Côte-Rôties which showcase the best ensemble of the appellation’s terroirs. The wine from Côte-Rôtie that does not go into the final blend is reserved for their Côte du Rhône Rouge—certainly one of the finest in its class.
While they are best known for their legendary bottlings of Côte-Rôtie and Côtes du Rhône Rouge, they also bottle a Côtes du Rhône Blanc and a Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes. The majority of their holdings are situated on the schist soils close to the Côte Brune, ideal for producing muscular, age-worthy Syrahs, spread among the lieux-dits of Chavaroche, Fongeant, Côte-Baudin, Moutonnes, Landonne, Côte Rozier, Truchet, Bonnivières, Leyat, Le Plomb, Rochains, Lézardes, Tartaras, and La Gerine. Their Syrah holdings in the granite lieux-dits of the Côte Blonde, the eponymous Côte Blonde , yield more delicate fruit, rich in floral aromas and softer in texture. Low yields and regular plowing help the grapes achieve robust structure and intensity of flavor.
Maceration begins as soon as the grapes arrive at the cellar, as the Jamets seek to extract the perfect color when the grapes are the most fresh. Generally speaking, the family favors whole-cluster fermentations, although anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the harvest is de-stemmed every year, depending on the vintage. Fermentations take place in stainless steel on native yeasts in their gravity-flow cellar, and the wines are aged in barrel for 18-22 months.
The wines are aged as individually as they are vinified, and the Jamets aim to reflect the conditions of a given terroir in each vintage. Some cuvées see élevages in stainless steel, others in oak barrels of varying sizes, ranging from the 228-L Burgundian barriques to the 550-L demi-muids. The finished wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal doses of sulfur.
Author Jonathan Livingstone-Learmonth has lauded the terroirs of Domaine Jamet, writing, “A lot of people would give their right arms to possess even a fraction of this family’s vineyards. Theirs is a regal cast of lieux-dits, spread across the appellation’s finest central sites.”
La Revue des Vins de France has also praised the wines of Domaine Jamet, claiming them to be “faultless for more than two decades.”
- Vineyard Area: 8 ha
- Soil Type: Schist, clay-limestone
- Varieties Cultivated: Syrah, Marsanne, Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc
- Country: France