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In which we offer a few of our favorite Rhône Valley wines, both for fall/winter enjoyment and for long-term cellaring, all of which offer superb value and outstanding quality...
Two Biodynamic wines lead the way for value in the Rhône - the beautiful 2020 Chateau de Manissy Cotes du Rhône "Oracle" and the vibrant 2021 Syrah "Les Iris" from Domaine des Amphores. Absolutely delicious wines...
For authentic local character in the southern Rhône, check out the 2019 "Plan de Dieu" from Aphillanthes and the inky and garrigue-scented 2020 "Sablet" from Creve Coeur!
Perhaps the best value for cellaring here is the 2019 Clos du Joncuas Vacqueyras - it's fabulous now, but in 2030 it will be astounding! And of course 2016 is a great vintage for the Clos du Joncuas Gigondas!
If you'd like to drink Châteauneuf-du-Pape everyday just pick up a case or two of the 2020 Charvin "Le Poutet" or the 2019 Ferrand "Cuvee Antique" - they're both CDP quality at CDR prices! And for old-fashioned, un-spoofilated CDP, at a reasonable price, you can't beat the 2020 Clos des Brusquières!
Traveling north to Crôzes-Hermitage we find the incredibly delicious 2019 Yann Chave "Le Rouvre" - from old vines grown on "galets roulés" soils near the Rhône river. This terroir gives a silky, opulent Syrah that is superb now and over the next 10 years.
For earthy, dense, complex Syrah from granit hillsides in Saint-Joseph we find the 2018 Becheras "Tour Joviac," the 2020 Amphores "Les Mésanges" and the 2020 Rousset! And for something more supple and forward, the Barou 2021 "Un Autre Monde" is bright, lush and totally delicious!
Last but not least we feature two over-achieving estates in Cornas - they are available, and at reasonable prices, since their names are not Allemand or Clape, but both estates make superb, traditional Cornas that will cellar beautifully for 25 years. Corinne Lionnet and her husband Ludovic Izérable are certified organic - not so easy in Cornas - and they ferment whole clusters with wild yeasts. Aging is in 2 - 8 year-old barrels - in short they have great terroir and are doing everyting right, so put some 2019 "Terres Brulées" in your cellar! Nicolas Serrette farms according to organic principles, grapes are harvested by hand, and tread by foot in cement tanks. Fermentation happens on indigenous yeasts. The marc is pressed in an old-fashioned, hand-cranked basket press. Aging is in 2 to 7 year-old 228 and 400 litre oak casks for 12-14 months. "...The second half really shows Cornas and its kick ass nature, the first half is flattering, vintage 2020 poise present. This has captured the sunrays of Patou very well, is a real wine of terroir" says drinkrhone. Enjoy over the next 25 years...
Wines are in stock or arriving Wednesday, pick-up or shipping Thursday 11/20
The very talented Florian André at Chateau de Manissy makes this delicious Côtes d Rhône from Grenache, Carignan and Counoise in organic/Biodynamic farming on sandy, brown clay/limestone soils. This must be the greatest value in the southern Rhône with lovely aromas of blackberry, cherry, garrigue and earth, quite pretty and bright. The palate is pure and complex with blueberry, blackberry and cherry fruit with a bit of smoke and licorice, really delicious. This has enough weight to handle steaks, chops and stews, but remains bright and balanced due perhaps to the Carignan and Counoise in the blend. Order by the case!
(Arrives 10/19) From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. A fabulous wine from the Southern Rhone, the 2019 La Font de Papier Vacqueyras from Clos du Joncuas displays a fine equilibrium between black fruits, tapenade, and a pungent saline soil signature. The robe straddles the border between dark ruby and purple. The nose is a bit backwards on opening, but time in the glass reveals aromas of plum skin, cassis, game, garrigue, and forest floor. The palate is warm, concentrated, and structured with black fruits, olive, and faint licorice flavors giving way to a salty core and ripe, if somewhat tannic frame. This displays good energy and freshness with fine balance and drive. Very good with pan-roasted loin of lamb and white beans, though this isn’t so structured that a grilled tuna steak with tapenade would suffer for the pairing. Delicious, though a couple of years on its side will surely be rewarded. I’ve learned that a few bottles of southern Rhône reds in the wine fridge are an investment in drinking pleasure. John McIlwain
(Arrives 11/7) The Laurent Charvin "Le Poutet" is made from average 50 year-old vines (some are 90 years-old!) of 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Syrah and Carignan in vineyards that abut Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Maucoil in the northwest and Campovin and Boislauzon in the northeast. The soils are sandy clay/limestone with galets stones. The grapes undergo a 15 to 20-day whole bunch fermentation with daily pumping-overs, the wine then spends 18 months in concrete vat and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wine is equal to many Châteauneuf-du-Pape, offering complex aromas of garrigue and spicy red fruits with the structure to evolve and drink well over ten to fifteen years. The lovely 2020 shows "a red robe; the nose carries a light essence of cooked plum fruit, strawberry jam, pepper, peony. It’s wide, will emerge and evolve well. The palate is close-knit, herbal-peppery, lined with red cherry, brisk fruits, cut in the tannins that still stand a little on the outside. Its frame is a bit skeletal, can amplify. There is rocky powder emphasis on the close, the length good. I like its gradual upping of the tempo, depth. It has interest, hidden corners, is not an open book. “It’s very fresh, always had foundation. 2019 is powerful, but 2020 bears jolis fruits, has true class, an identity,” Laurent Charvin." drinkrhone.com
(Arrives 10/19) 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. The 2016 is another beautiful Gigondas from the Clos du Joncuas, perhaps with less fat and density than the 2015 but quite elegant and more Burgundian in style. The aromas sing of black cherry liqueur, licorice, black olive and garrigue; the palate is dense and focused with blackberry, cherry, black olive, bitter chocolate and earth with nice sappy length with firm acidity. Drinking well now, decant if possible, or hold for five years, then drink until about 2035. David Lillie
(Arrives 10/19) From 100% Syrah grown on decomposed granit soils in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting, in the early 90's, and now certified Biodynamic as well. The 2021 "Les Iris" Syrah shows the brighter, pretty fruit and slightly lower alcohol of this low-yielding and cooler vintage in the Northern Rhone. The wine shows bright aromas of blackberry and blueberry with hints of stone, mint, smoke and violet, quite fresh and pretty. The palate is balanced 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! David Lillie
(Arrives 10/19) "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 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
(Arrives 10/19) The 2020 Dumien-Serrette "Patou" is a "kick-ass" Cornas, as noted by our friend Livingstone-Learmonth at drinkrhone: "very dark robe; the nose is sunny, very well filled with busy, stylish black fruits, a note of Indian ink, squid-pulp, vegetal airs on board. It’s going to amplify and really blossom from a large glass. The palate is rolling, generous, starts on a willing sweep of cool black berry fruits before taking up dark tannins, pine needles, the depth on the finish resounding, the whole bunch presence noted there in its smoky canopy. The second half really shows Cornas and its kick ass nature, the first half is flattering, vintage 2020 poise present. This has captured the sunrays of Patou very well, is a real wine of terroir." Decant if drinking now, enjoy over the next 25 years.
(Arrives 10/19) The 2019 Domaine les Aphillanthes "les Galets" is a very delightful Côtes de Rhône from 60% Grenache (1970s), 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre grown on clay-limestone soils on the Plan de Dieu, a terroir of gravel, rolled stones and clay near Gigondas. The wine shows lovely, bright aromas of black cherry and red currant, floral and quite pretty. The palate is supple and silky with cool red and black fruits, the finish is long with juicy red fruits and hints of spice with good length. Really a lovely CDR at a great price - serve with Coq au Vin and be happy...
This blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mouvedre comes from old vines in “Le Planis,” planted just after the Second World War in the Southern Rhone. Creve Coeur’s Pablo Hocht created the Domaine in 2010, with a commitment to organic and Biodynamic farming. His recent vintages have been rich and ripe: just what one wants in Southern Rhone red. The wine undergoes a four-week whole-cluster vinification with wild yeasts followed by 12 months in used barrels. An inky delight in the glass, the aromatics are hedonistic and bold, full of black fruit, olive and smoke. The palate is dense and dark with firm acidity, and opens up to a generous gift of cassis, dried fruit, mint, and black pepper, with some nice brightness. The grippy tannins provide a good energy to the minerals at play, and it gives a peak into what this wine will look like in a few years’ time - five years in the cellar and this modestly price wine will really sing. Surprisingly structured so perfect with grilled meat, tagines, reblochon or other soft cheeses.
(Arrives 11/7) 2019 is a great vintage for the beautiful Ferrand Cuvée Antique - 90% Grenache from 85 year-old vines just outside Chateauneuf-du-Pape, with 5% Syrah, 2% Cinsault, 2% Mourvèdre, 1% Grenache blanc, Clairette blanche. From DrinkRhone: "dark red; the bouquet has a deep setting of plum fruit with a crushed nutshell air above, is locked up, plenty of potential on board to expand and diversify. The attack is well sturdy, agreeably thorough, covers the ground well, sustaining into a lingering close, the juice lasting well. The Grenache plum fruit has verve and a fluid intensity, does a really good job, while the tannins are fresh, too." This drinks like good CDP but at half the price, enjoy over the next ten to fifteen years.
(Arrives 10/19) The gorgeous 2019 "Le Rouvre" from Yann Chave comes from average 50 to 60 year-old organic Syrah vines grown in galets roulés soils in Pont L'Isere along the Rhone river. The grapes are de-stemmed and ferment with wild yeasts, with minimal extraction, aging is mostly in one and two year-old barrels. This is a gorgeous Syrah, both for current drinking and cellaring of 8 to 10 years, showing blackberry and cassis fruit confit, with a bit of spice and earth. The palate is round and volutuous with ripe cherry and blackberry fruit, cool and pure with a beautiful pure and focused finish. Lovely wine, serve a bit cool...
(Arrives 10/19) The Etienne Becheras Saint-Joseph "Tour Joviac" is 100% Syrah from 20+ year-old vines planted 8,000 per hectare on decomposed granite hillsides in Arras, in the southern zone of Saint-Joseph just above Tournon. The grapes are destemmed, there is a 5-6 day pre-fermentation crop cooling, then a 20-25 day concrete vat vinification, followed by 2 years of aging in 1-5 year old 228-litre oak casks. This is an authentic Saint-Joseph really showing the distinctive granite terroir with slightly gamey deep red and black fruit aromas, with floral and licorice notes. The palate is expansive and ripe with black raspberry and red currant above dusty granite, spice and earth notes. This is a bit similar to the Gonon "Iles Feray" but more supple and ready to drink due to the de-stemmed grapes and the lush fruit of the 2018 vintage - it's a very satisfying glass of Northern Rhone Syrah to drink over the next ten years.
(Arrives 10/19) Domaine Lionnet has produced a superb Cornas in the hot, dry 2019 vintage, perhaps in part due to their organic farming on great terroir. From 1960s Syrah on Mazards, 1940s Syrah on Combe, also Chaillot, Pied la Vigne (oldest 1960s, 1970s), Chataignier/Saint Pierre (2008 and younger), 2-3 week whole bunch fermentation. Aged 50% 600-litre, 50% 228-litre 2-8 year oak casks 15-16 months, then 3 weeks in vat before bottling. "...attractive dark red robe; the bouquet is well together, can be stylish, blossoming to come. There is a well inset air of raspberry liqueur, with cooked plums, a cedar note, a little mystery about it. The palate combines Cornas terroir feel, powdered tannins with grip, with a rocky fusion of dark berry fruit, is highly authentic, and well manoeuvred in the context of the hot summer. This is Cornas of terroir with appealing gras that skates along well, and it goes long, too. Big marks for character here. 14°. From 2024, decant it, drink until 2042-44" drinkrhone