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One doesn't think of the Northern Rhône as a source for great values, but the wines we feature from Domaine Barou, Domaine des Amphores and Domaine Rousset offer sensational quality at everyday-drinking prices. These are authentic, traditional wines from great terroir and great farming which fully express the magic of the Northern Rhone!
The 2020 Texier "Le Clau" is one of the most extraordinary and unique Northern Rhone wines we have ever tasted. Happily, the importer has a few more cases and a few magnums of the 2017 still available. Stop lusting over old bottles of Gentaz-Dervieux and put some "Le Clau" in your cellar!
Domaine des Amphores, Chavanay (Condrieu, Saint-Joseph)
Our last shipments from Véronique and Philippe Grenier at the Domaine des Amphores in Chavanay have sold out almost immediately, and it's no wonder, as these are delicious, honest wines of terroir from the Northern Rhône at very reasonable prices! Certified organic since their beginning in 1992, and since 2016 all the wines are Demeter certified for Biodynamic farming as well. We love the whites here, which seem to get better every year - they are silky, elegant and unforced, just delicious wines. (The 2020 Saint-Joseph Blanc sold out before sending this email, but be sure to try the Condrieu "La Cote" and the VDP Viognier "Les Iris.") The three reds on offer today show the ripeness, balance and terroir expression of the excellent 2020 vintage, from the bright and floral "Sphé-érique" to the deep and more structured cuvée "Les Mésanges." Syrah lovers should try all three!
Domaine Rousset, Erome (Crôzes-Hermitage)
Stéphane Rousset's family goes back eleven generations in Erome - his great uncle was the legendary Raymond Roure, from whom the Roussets purchased the "Picaudières" vineyard in Gervans. The Rousset's vineyards are all on hillsides with some limestone and "loess" soils mixed in with the predominant granite, giving wines that are more profound and complex than most modern examples of Crôzes-Hermitage. Sadly, there were no 2020 Crôzes reds available as the Rousset's wines sell out quickly to their local clients and restaurants, but we're happy to offer their very serious 2020 Saint-Joseph Rouge (from "Les Rivoires" in Tournon - Domaine Pierre Gonon has vines there as well), and their 2021 Crôzes-Hermitage Blanc, a delicious blend of Roussanne and Marsanne that is a fabulous value...
Eric Texier "Le Clau" Ouvèze Valley
"From a handful of rows in our 0.5 ha of a very particular strain of Serine. Planted in the 1930’s in the Masson parcel of Saint-Julien en-Saint-Alban in the lieu-dit Le Clau. They present unique ampelographic qualities, very different from the Serines we find in Brézème or other Northern vineyards, notably very low alcoholic degrees when in full maturity. All replacements here have been done through marcottage, without the introduction of any clones. We are still not sure of their exact nature, and certain ampelography experts believe it may not even be Syrah. It may actually be Bravade or Exbrayat. We've decided to vinify these separately and the result is unique. We’ve discovered a very particular personality, and it’s an immense pleasure to share this with you. Whole-cluster, with a light treading for 20% of the grapes. 6-8 days of maceration with an immersed cap, no extraction. Native yeasts. Aged 18 months in demi-muids. No filtration or fining. No sulfur was added at any point during vinification, aging or bottling." - Éric Texier
Please allow 3 to 5 days before pickup or shipping.
Notes from Eric Texier: "Le Clau 2017 - The second vintage of this cuvée is much more a classic expression of Syrah. The originality and depth of this wine make it a unique and moving experience, something truly special: the fruit of our passion for this exceptional and magnificent land. No de-stemming, light crushing of 20% of the of the berries. 5-7 days of maceration in immersed cap without extraction. Native yeasts. Aged for 15 months in demi-muids. No filtration or fining. Family bottling by hand, without SO2. 300 magnums produced."
(Arrives 4/6) "From a handful of rows in our 0.5 ha of a very particular strain of Serine. Planted in the 1930’s in the Masson parcel of Saint-Julien en-Saint-Alban in the lieu-dit Le Clau. They present unique ampelographic qualities, very different from the Serines we find in Brézème or other Northern vineyards, notably very low alcoholic degrees when in full maturity. All replacements here have been done through marcottage, without the introduction of any clones. We are still not sure of their exact nature, and certain ampelography experts believe it may not even be Syrah. It may actually be Bravade or Exbrayat. We've decided to vinify these separately and the result is unique. We’ve discovered a very particular personality, and it’s an immense pleasure to share this with you.Whole-cluster, with a light treading for 20% of the grapes. 6-8 days of maceration with an immersed cap, no extraction. Native yeasts. Aged 18 months in demi-muids. No filtration or fining. No sulfur was added at any point during vinification, aging or bottling." (The following note is from our June 2022 tasting - the wine has closed up (March 2023) and wll need aeration or aging before drinking) The 2020 Le Clau shows an inky black/purple color with bright rim. Vivid black fruit aromas (boysenberry, blackberry) with black peppercorn, earth, mint, garrigue - develops quickly with aeration. The wine is intense but not heavy with a very mineral attack and very firm acidity with bright cassis and blackberry fruit that emerges with air. A fascinating melange of black fruits, anise and minerals lingers lightly on the palate in the very long finsh. This is an extraordinary wine that is great fun to taste now but 5 years in the cellar, and perhaps much longer, should create something quite unique. David Lillie
(Arrives 9/21) 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. The nose shows typical aromas of white flowers and tree fruit underscored by a bracing pineniness and toasty notes. The palate is juicy with notes of pear , green melon and bitter rind uplifted by bright acidity and a long, dry finish. An excellent food wine to be paired with white meats and fish, creamy cheese, grilled vegetables and composed salads. Giselle Hamburg
The Domaine des Amphores Condriueu is 100% massale-selection Viognier from 0.5 hectare on poor granite-based soils at 250 metres on La Côte at Chavanay. The 2020 La Côte has a pale yellow gold robe. The nose offers and intriguing mélange of toasted nuts, salted pineapple, chestnut honey and a hint of spice. The palate shades savory with a granitic spine and roasted peach, and green almond flavors on a sleek (for Condrieu) palate. There’s a pleasing phenolic, stony bitterness closing out the finish. This is a less exotic and exuberant expression, but perfect for the table—think skate with brown butter or roasted chicken with fricasséed morels, rather than drunk as an apéro. John McIlwain
The 2020 Vin de France "Sphé-érique" from the Grenier family in Saint-Joseph is a lovely Syrah from Biodynamic farming that is fantastically delicious! The wine is from young massale-selection Syrah vines on granite with shallow clay soils in the Richagnieux vineyard at Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone. It ferments and ages in a unique round vat. The wine shows superb very bright pure strawberry, raspberry and blueberry fruit, really lovely, which continue on the palate that is fresh, refreshing and pure with great focus and length. There is minimal added SO2 which allows the fragrant, floral aromas and fruit flavors to be fully expressed. Serve this beautiful Syrah cool with charcuterie, grilled lamb and pork, roast chicken and mild cheeses. It's lovely wine and a testament to the great farming and winemaking by Véronique and Philippe Grenier and family. David Lillie
(Arrives 9/21) The Amphores "7 Lieux" is from 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 - 60% de-stemmed, aged 50% in vat, 50% in 2 to 10 year-old demi-muid and foudre. The 2020 "7 Lieus" is a more subtle and earthy wine than the very ripe 2019, showing pretty aromas of violet, black raspberry, plum, a bit smoky and backed with blood and mineral notes. The palate shows a classic Northern Rhone backbone of iron and earth flavors with red currant, black raspberry and black olive. The finish shows firm acidity, mineral flavors and sappy, lingering olive and berry fruit. This will improve with time in the cellar, but is delicious now as well for its authentic and old-fashioned Syrah character. David Lillie
"Les Mésanges" is a cuvée of Saint-Joseph made from 30 to 50 year-old organic Syrah vines on biotite granite soils in the vineyards of "Pecher" and "Vauturerie" at Chavanay, 30 - 40% whole cluster, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels, 5 to 8 years-old. This is the most structured and age-worthy of the Domaine des Amphores Saint-Josephs and is a full-bodied, elegant wine in the excellent, rather dense and concentrated 2020 vintage. The wine will benefit from a few years of aging, and needs a bit of time open if drinking now. The wine shows a deep black/red color that coats the glass with fresh aromas of black raspberry/cherry liqueur, quite ripe, with violet, spice, black olive and bitter chocolate. The palate is lush and supple, densely textured, with black fruit liqueur, blueberry, spice, earth and mineral flavors, quite intense but a bit brighter and more open than the 2019. This is an authentic and delcious Northern Rhone Syrah from great farming, at a great price! Best to decant if drinking now, or cellar a few years and enjoy until 2035.
(Arrives 9/21) From 85% Marsanne and 15% Roussanne grown on powdered granite with clay and gravel - great terroir producing this delightful wine from the Rousset family. The Rousset Crozes Blanc is outstanding again in 2021 - the fourth vintage to include the new planting of Roussanne - and is one of the finest white wine values in the store! The wine shows fresh aromas of white peach, apricot, almond and lime-flower with a bit of white pepper. The palate is supple and dense with ripe pear, mineral and citrus flavors, with wet stone and caramel. The finish is ripe and long with firm lemony acidity. Serve with white meats, a ceviche of fluke, mildly-flavored fish dishes and a wide variety of cheeses.
(Arrives 10/17) The 2020 Rousset Saint-Joseph is from a one-half hectare parcel of 35 to 70 year-old vines in "Les Rivoires" on the lower slope in Tournon, a cool, very steep, late-ripening terroir with clay, sand and stones over firm granite. Aged 12 months, 30% foudre, 70% 1 to 5 year-old barrels.This is prime Saint-Joseph terroir (the Gonons have vines in "Rivoires" as well) giving a dense well-structured wine that is enjoyable young, as most of the grapes are de-stemmed, and that will drink well over the next ten+ years. From drinkrhone: "The Rousset 2020 Saint-Joseph shows a dark robe; has a favourable nose, soaked fruits, black cherries [griottes], sweetness, black olive tapenade. The palate has a soft debut, is fleshy, comes with pliant gras, holds along its path to the finish. There’s a gentle floral theme, a perfumed one. It tightens nice and gradually, gains a compact finish, the length sure, quite solid." This is close to Domain Gonon in quality and will provide serious Northern Rhone pleasure at a moderate price. Highly recommended. 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 2021 Vin de Pays Marsanne is a simply superb everyday wine! Light bronze/gold color. This needs a few minutes to open up, then shows bright aromas of pear and peach, almond, lime-flower, lemon peel, smoke and hay, really quite pretty, and a little fresher than the 2020 at 13% alcohol. Ripe stone fruits on the palate, primarily peach and dried pear with lemon, spice and saline mineral flavors with refreshing acidity. Beautiful finish with white and yellow fruits and minerals. Serve this lovely wine as a superb aperitif or with chicken, full-flavored fish, mild cheeses and Asian foods. This is a unique and delicious wine and an extraordinary value - highly recommended!