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We're very proud to again offer new arrivals from these three superb estates in the northern Rhône, all of whom produce oustanding traditional wines, allowing us to enjoy fine examples of Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Condrieu at reasonable prices. And of course, the delicious Vins de Pays made at Domaine des Amphores and Domaine Barou are some of the finest values to be found anywhere!
Beginning with the 2009 vintage, and based on a recommendation from Jean Gonon, we have been featuring the wonderful Crozes-Hermitages and Saint-Joseph from Stéphane and Isabelle Rousset. Stéphane's great uncle was the legendary Raymond Roure, from whom the Roussets purchased the "Picaudières" vineyard in Gervans - it's one of the best vineyards in the region with terraces cut out of the granite and old vines planted in high density, dating back to the 1930s. Unlike most Crozes-Hermitage producers, all the Rousset's parcels are on slopes, mostly granite but with a small amount of clay-limestone as well, giving the wines more affinity to Hermitage than to the modern styles of forward and fruity Crozes-Hermitage grown on the flats.
Véronique and Philippe Grenier at Domaine des Amphores are located on the hillsides of Chavanay, just south of Condrieu, where they produce Saint-Joseph red and white, a lovely Condrieu and delicious Vins de Pays that are sensational values. Certified organic since their beginning in 1992, and since 2016 all the wines are Demeter certified for biodynamic farming as well. The 2018s here are sensational wines with vibrant fruit framed in fresh acidity which will provide fabulous current drinking, and the Saint-Josephs and Condrieu will benefit from medium-term cellaring as well. The commitment and enthusiasm of Véronique and Philippe is inspirational - these wines are highly recommended!
Domaine Barou in Saint-Joseph. Alexis Barou converted the estate to organic agriculture back in 1975 as he didn't find as much flavor in his cherries with "conventional" farming. His son Emmanuel, with wife Marie-Agnès, currently have about 3 hectares in Saint-Joseph, 1 hectare in Condrieu and 6 hectares of Vin de Pays in Charnas from which they produce elegant, unforced traditional wines - along with delicious organic cherries and apricots. Their farming is exemplary, using their own compost, keeping the soil covered, plowing as little as possible and avoiding even the organic treatments against mildew, as they can harm soil fauna. The Saint-Joseph parcels are in Limony, on de-composed granite, and Charnas, on stone covered firm granite. The Condrieu vineyard is on a steep south-facing granite slope with clay soil. "This is a name to watch" says Livingstone-Learmonth in "Wines of the Northern Rhône," "the domaine is emerging as a sound address for carefully made, natural wines."
All wines are in stock with additional inventory arriving Tuesday.
Domaine des Amphores, a long-time organic and now Biodynamic estate in Chavanay, just south of Condrieu, produces excellent Saint-Josephs as well as red and white Vin de Pays. "Detour" is made from Roussanne, Clairette and Marsanne - it's a delicious Northern Rhone wine and one of the best values in the store. The 2018 is ripe, round and beautifully balanced with aromas of apricot, almond, lemon, hay and stone - the palate is supple and elegant with stone fruits, anise and mineral flavors, finishing with ripe white fruits and saline minerals. Delicious by itself or with fish or chicken in sauce and mild cheeses. This great value will open up nicely over the next few years and is highly recommended! David Lillie
We're not sure about the spelling, but Véronique and Philippe Grenier's "Sphé-érique" is a lovely "natural" Syrah, fermented and aged in a round concrete vat, and bottled with zero added sulfur. The wine shows lovely aromas of cool blackberry and blueberry fruit with violet, mint and citrus aromas, really quite complex and pretty. The palate is balanced and earthy with bright black fruits and firm acidity with stone and berry flavors in the refreshing finish. Serve this light and lovely Syrah with lamb, pork, guinea hen and of course with caillettes ardechoises. (Like most no-sulfur wines, it is best to consume on the day opened.)
Domaine Barou has been organic since the 1970s and also produces cherries, apricots and peaches. The Saint-Joseph vines are in Limony, on thin granite soils. Shallow plowing ("griffage") is done in the summer, with rye and clover growing between the rows in winter. The grapes are 80% de-stemmed, fermentations are with wild yeasts, aging is primarily in old barrels. The 2018 "un Autre Monde" is a beautiful fruit-forward Saint-Joseph showing a deep red/black color and superb aromas, lush and complex, of black chery, red currant and blueberry with musk, licorice and dark choclate, quite floral and bright. The palate is supple and ripe with lush black and blueberry fruit, spice and earth. The finish is long and ripe with fruit liqueur lingering on the palate. This is a beautifully balanced fruit bomb of a Saint-Joseph to enjoy over the next five to eight years. David Lillie
The Barou family family makes delicious wines, and grows cherries and apricots on their mixed-use organic estate in Charnas, in the northern section of the AOC Saint-Joseph. Their 2018 Vin de Pays Marsanne is a simply superb everyday wine! Light bronze/gold color. This needs a few minutes to open up, then shows aromas of pear and peach, almond, lime-flower, lemon peel, smoke and hay, really quite pretty. Ripe stone fruits on the palate, primarily peach and dried pear with lemon, spice and saline mineral flavors with good balancing acidity in the long finish. Serve this lovely wine with chicken, full-flavored fish, mild cheeses and Asian foods. This is a unique and delicious wine and an extraordinary value - highly recommended!
Les Picaudières is perhaps the best vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage, formerly owned by Raymond Roure and now tended by Stéphane Rousset. It's a steep slope of granite terraces, isolated in an oak forest facing due south and protected from the wind. (In the opinion of Livingston-Learmonth in "Wines of the Northern Rhône" wine from Les Picaudières is "certainly better" than many Hermitage from the eastern part of the hill.) The vines are planted in high-density and range from 20 to 80 years-old. The grapes are hand-harvested and mostly de-stemmed. The wine ages 16 months, 60% in burgundy barrels (5% new) and 40% in cuve inox or resin, 325 cases were made. The 2017 shows a deep red/black color with elegant aromas of blackberry and blueberry, cherry liqueur, licorice, bitter chocolate, black olive, musk and menthol. The palate shows bright berry liqueurs with deeper earthy black fruits , black pepper, cocoa, licorice and mineral flavors, supple and ripe but with firm tannins and a grainy texture. A long saline finish of black fruits and firm acidity. This is a superb northern Rhône Syrah that can be enjoyed young, especially with grilled foods, but best to wait five to ten years and drink until 2035 and beyond. This is the real deal and is highly recommended. David Lillie
100% Syrah from 40 - 50 year-old vines on hillside vineyards in Erôme, Gervans and Crozes, on mostly granite hillsides and clay/limestone soils as well. A true wine of the granite terroirs, the 2016 Rousset is tight and austere when opened but with time reveals a fabulous Hermitage-like blend of red currant and blackberry fruit with stone and mineral flavors. The aromas are of cherry and red currant liqueur with earth, citrus and powdered stone, quite elegant.The palate shows grainy mineral and earth flavors with blackberry and red currant fruit, finishing with a combination of earth and fruit flavors with fabulous length. A beatiful wine that needs a bit of preparation - best if opened the night before and re-corked - or two nights before - or cellar for five to eight years. Bravo to Stéphan Rousset for this unique expression of Syrah!
From a one-half hectare parcel of 60 year-old vines in "Les Rivoires" on the lower slope in Tournon, a cool, late-ripening terroir with clay, sand and stones over firm granite. Aged 12 months, 30% foudre, 70% 2 to 5 year-old barrels. Although normally overshadowed by the Rousset's superb Crozes "les Picaudieres," the 2017 Saint-Joseph is a great wine of terroir and one of the better Saint-Josephs we've tasted from this vintage. The wine shows a dark black/red color with deep aromas of blackberry and red currant liqueur with blueberry, plum, earth, musk and licorice - quite ripe but with nice brightness as well. The palate is quite dense and supple with ripe black fruits and hints of blueberry, dark chocolate, black olive and roast meats which continue in the long finish with pronounced mineral flavors, berry liqueur, citrus and firm acidity. The Rousset Saint-Joseph is normally somewhat austere and tightly structured when young, but the 2017 will be quite delicious as a young wine, with enough structure for medium-term aging, best perhaps 2020 to 2030+. David Lillie
This is an oustanding Marsanne from vines planted in 1923 and 1933, aged in a 2 year-old barrel, that shows elegant aromas of apricot, peach skin, almond, citrus, and flint - the palate is round and well-structured with buttery white fruits, almond, stone, anise and mineral flavors with pear, citrus and mineral notes in the long finish. Pair this beautiful wine with full-flavored fish and chicken dishes and goat cheeses. David Lillie
From Veronique, Philippe and Remi Grenier at Domaine des Amphores, certified organic and Biodynamic. 80% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne on granite soils in "Le Monteillet" at 300 metres altitude. Bright gold/bronze color, subtle aromas of hay, apricot, white peach, citrus peel, melon and wet stone. The palate is ripe and elegant with stone fruits and mineral flavors, textured and earthy, finishing with floral white peach and minerals. Serve with a full-flavored ceviche, fish in sauce, white meats, goat cheeses... Lovely wine! David Lillie
We love Condrieu, but Viognier from other regions can often be cloying and uninteresting. This example from the Grenier family in Chavanay, however, is elegant and outstanding. It comes from Viognier vines just south of the Condrieu AOC, always tended organically, certified since 2002, and Biodynamic since 2016. Like stepping into the sunshine, this wine is a bedazzlement of friut and floral tones. Yellow flowers, white blossom, honeysuckle, apricot, peach, canteloupe and underripe pineapple, with slight hints of almond, citrus and lemon peel all playing on the alluring nose of this wine. There is a unctuousness on the palate that is beautifully balanced by a lively acidity. The finish introduces a hint of fresh cut hay and that particular late summer evening light. A lovely Viognier and a great value! Oskar Kostecki
The white wines of Philippe and Véronique Grenier at Domaine des Amphores have become particularly successful over the past few years, as their son Remi, now the winemaker at Chateau Grillet, has been helping out. The vineyards have been farmed organically since their inception and are now certified biodynamic as well. The 2018 Condrieu "La Côte" has a delicate and compelling aroma of fresh pear, apricot skin, soft white flowers like baby's breath, and something that makes me think of moss growing on a wet stone. The palate is incredibly luscious and rounded with a slightly bitter almond skin on the finish. The richness of this full-bodied white will make it an excellent pair for more powerfully flavored dishes, but I also fully enjoyed it complimenting a creamy crab pizza with fresh herbs. Michelle DeWyngaert
From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting, in the early 90's, and now Biodynamic as well. The 2018 "Les Iris" Syrah shows lush aromas of blackberry and blueberry with hints of stone, mint, smoke and violet, quite fresh and pretty. The palate is dense and elegant, with cool acidity and lush blackberry and black raspberry fruit, with a fresh earthy finish with mineral, citrus and ripe red and black fruit flavors. Terrific length and depth for a wine at this price. This is a very versatile wine to serve cool with grilled chicken, pork and full-flavored cheeses or to sip by itself, slightly chilled. It's an authentic and delicious wine and a great value - and a lovely preview of the great 2018 vintage in the northern Rhone. David Lillie
(From young vines, planted in the 90's, always organic, and from parcels of old vines, converted to organic, in Chavanay, below Condrieu) Philippe and Veronique Grenier have always farmed organically and now they are certified Biodynamic as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. 50% de-stemmed, aged 50% in vat, 50% in 2 to 10 year-old demi-muid and foudre. The 2018 shows a deep red/black color with elegant floral blackberry, black raspberry and black olive aromas with hints of earth, citrus and coffee. The palate is balanced and well-structured with blackberry and black plum , finishing with black fruits, earth and firm tannins. With aeration the finish broadens with elegant black fruit liqueur, licorice and black olive. This lovely Saint-Joseph will accompany lamb shank, pork stews and grilled meats - decant if drinking now or cellar 5 to 8 years. David Lillie
"Les Mesanges" is a cuvée of Saint-Joseph made from 40 to 50 year-old organic Syrah vines on biotite granite soils in the vineyards of Pecher and Vauturerie at Chavanay, 60-70% destemmed, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels, 25% new, 75% 5 to 8 year-old. On the nose, this wine shows complex and concentrated aromas of macerated dark fruits and flowers, sandalwood, baking spices, and savory green herbs. The palate is robust, with deep red and black berries and citrus rind. Balanced structure, with a hefty mouthfeel alleviated by focused acidity.
From 40 year-old Syrah vines in Charnay, just outside the Saint-Joseph AOC, on living soils tended organically for forty years by Marie-Agnès and Emmanuel Barou. Plowing by tractor or weeding by hand on the steep slopes. Hand-harvested, wild-yeast fermentations, aging one year in 4 to 5 year-old barrels. The 2018 Cuvée des Vernes is simply sensational and one of the best values in the store! The wine shows deep black/red color with lush aromas of blackberry liqueur, licorice, blueberry and musk with cool minty notes - really lovely! The palate shows cool dense black fruits with blueberry, earth, and citrus with a beautiful, refreshing finish of minerals and fruit. This is an outstanding Syrah, and simply delicious for current drinking. Serve a bit cool with almost anything from roast chicken to pork, rabbit, charcuterie and lamb, or just enjoy by itself. Case quantities are available. Highly recommended! DL