Wine of the Week: Delas is Dee-licious

Founded 160 years ago in the heart of the northern Côtes du Rhône, Delas Frères crafts world class wines from both northern and southern Rhône.

Tending the steep, sloping vineyards, which totals just over 70 acres of vines, the Delas team adapt their growing practices to each plot to let the terroir of the Rhône shine through.

Crafted by winemaker Jacques Grange, who originally hails from Burgundy, France, the wines from Delas Frères epitomize finesse and elegance. The wines produced from the vineyards of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Côte Rôtie, Condrieu, Côtes-du-Rhône and Côtes-du-Ventoux express their own unique sense of terroir. Each bottle of wine is representative of a time and place.

The winery was founded in 1835 when Charles Audibert and Philippe Delas bought Maisons Junique, a 40-year-old winery, which they renamed Audibert & Delas. The house’s reputation spread quickly worldwide, as the winery brought home numerous awards from international competitions.

Philippe Delas had two sons, Henri and Florentin. The latter married the daughter of Charles Audibert, further strengthening the bond between the two families. In 1924, the brothers succeeded to the founders and changed the name of the house to Delas Frères – which means Brothers Delas.

After World War II, under Florentin’s son Jean’s leadership, and thanks to the widespread appreciation of French wines, the Delas house experienced rapid growth. To ensure a regular supply of the highest quality grapes to satisfy the growing demand, Jean extended the family holdings by purchasing a vineyard in Châteauneuf du Pape and enlarging the Hermitage vineyards.

When Jean’s son Michel took control of Delas Frères in 1960, the winery had become one of the most famous houses in the Northern Rhone, where it now owned and controlled vineyards in Hermitage, Cornas, Côte Rôtie, and Condrieu. In 1981, Delas moved to its current premises in Saint Jean de Muzols, where the winery building is set amid the vineyards in the St. Joseph appellation. Today, Delas Frères is part of the Champagne Louis Roederer group, another well-known house with a similar history of family ownership and dedication to excellence.

Best of all, the tradition of producing world class wines continues, with many wines in the portfolio offering tremendous value. I was fortunate enough to recently taste through a good chunk of the portfolio. Unfortunately, time and space does not allow me to expound on all of the wonderful wines, but I have narrowed it down to several of my favorites.

The 2017 vintage produced one of the earliest harvests on record at Delas, particularly for white wines. While 2017 produced a smaller quantity of grapes, the quality is excellent, as reflected in the 2017 Delas Freres Saint Esprit Cotes du Rhone Blanc. This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourblanc and Viognier and features aromas of ripe pear, orange blossom and white flowers on the fragrant nose. Juicy and lively in the mouth, the palate is rewarded with stone fruit, white fig and honeysuckle flavors. It finishes with a touch of minerality on the medium-bodied frame. $11

The Crozes-Hermitage appellation is located in the northern Rhône Valley region of France. It is the largest appellation in the northern Rhone and is known for producing Syrahs with a spicy characteristic. This is where the 2015 Delas Freres Domaine des Grand Chemins Crozes-Hermitage gets its legs. Made from 100% Syrah, the wine is wildly aromatic, with scents of violets, dark plums and black olives on the nose. The mouthfeel is chewy with young tannins that support bold flavors of black plum, lavender, olive tapenade, dried herbs, and black pepper on the long, masculine finish. $45

Unlike most other appellations located in the northern Rhône Valley, Cornas is shielded from the cold “Le Mistral” winds so it is often the first appellation in the valley to begin the harvest. The appellation is dedicated solely to the production of Syrah, most of which produce powerful wines worthy of aging. So, if you have a bit a spare cash and a lot of patience, you will be rewarded with the 2015 Delas Freres Chante Pedrix Cornas. The aromas of dark berry fruit and cherry-cola shine on the floral-accented nose. Flavors of blackberry, plum, lavender, underbrush, black olive, wild herbs, and licorice cascade onto the palate in waves, gliding into a finish that can easily last more than a minute. $60

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