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One of the few "natural" winemakers in the northern Rhône, Frank Balthazar is certified organic and vinifies with wild yeasts and minimal sulfur, even producing a cuvée of Cornas without SO2. The Cuvée Casimir Balthazar is from 25% old vines in "Les Mazards" and young vines in "La Légre." Balthazar's Cornas are aromatically beautiful with silky, pure fruit and terrific length and are never heavy or over-extracted. The 2015 Casimir Balthazar shows a dense red/black color, with elegant pure blackberry, cassis aromas with violet and stone and hints of spice, a bit closed from the recent bottling. The palate is dense and elegant, but not heavy, with firm tannins surrounding lovely pure black fruits with a beautiful core of minerals, earth and berry fruits. The finish is all stone and juicy acids. Beautiful wine - hold 5 to 8 years and drink till 2035. DL
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 2015 Vin de Pays Marsanne is a simply superb everyday wine! Light bronze/gold color. Aromas of almond, lime-flower, honeysuckle, lemon peel 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!
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 2015 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 dark chocolate, blueberry, earth, smoke and citrus with a beautiful, refreshing finish of minerals and fruit. This is an outstanding Syrah, better than many Saint-Josephs 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. Highly recommended! DL
(98% Grenache with Cinsault, Clairette, Bourboulenc, 60 to 90 years old, picked late. 50% de-stemmed, aged in large barrels, casks and vats) As the name suggests, this is old-school CDP, almost all Grenache, not over-extracted or softened with Syrah and Mourvedre. "Bright ruby. Musky, expansive aromas of raspberry, strawberry compote and fresh flowers. Accentuated by a penetrating quality and impressive grip to the black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors. Finishes with alluring perfume and mounting tannins." JR Drink from 2014 to 2027.
Chapelle Saint-Theodoric is a joint venture between the Grangeon family of Domaine de Cristia and their USA importer Peter Weygandt. Le Grand Pin is all Grenache from the Pignan vineyard on sandy soils. Whole-cluster fermentation in concrete vat with wild yeasts, minimal extraction, aged in 4 to 10 year-old large casks. This is a beautiful old-fashioned Chateauneuf that is all finesse and beauty, very Burgundian in style and absoulutely delicious. The wine shows elegant aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violet, roast meat, graphite, citrus and Provencal garrigue, quite complex. There is intense sappy fruit on the palate with elegant cherry, raspberry, dark chocolate and earth. Very long, dense and ripe but balanced and bright, not at all heavy or over-extracted. The finish is lovely with sappy fruit and mineral flavors lingering on the palate. Delicious as a young wine, this should cellar beautifully, best perhaps 2023 - 2030. DL
"Chapelle St. Theodoric is a project between winemaker Baptiste Grangeon and importer Peter Weygandt. There are two parcels; one in the lieu-dit La Guigasse, which is a pure sand soil and where the vines (all Grenache) range in age of from 50 to 100 year; and the other parcel at the top of Pignan, literally adjoining the vines of Chateau Rayas, also in pure sand and also pure, old vines Grenache. The vinification is traditional, that is to say, whole-cluster, such as employed by Jacques Reynaud at Chateau Rayas, Laurent Charvin, Henri Bonneau. In the 2014 vintage, it was decided to put all of the La Guigasse and some of the Grand Pin into Les Sablons, because of the more forward style of 2014." - Weygandt-Metzler. The 2014 "Les Sablons" is indeed a very lovely Chateauneuf, showing beautiful ripe red currant and black cherry aromas with hints of brown spice, rose, earth and musk. The palate is light and fine but very dense with sappy red fruits, citrus, earth and mineral flavors with hints of licorice and prune. The finish is long and lingering, with firm acidity showing good aging potential. Elegant and delicious now - serve slightly cool - perhaps best 2020 to 2030. Three cheers to Peter Weygandt and Baptiste Grangeon for producing this lovely old-school Châteaneuf-du-Pape!
A 1.5 ha parcel of about 50% Grenache, 50% Cinsault, sometimes with some Bourboulenc and Mourvèdre that averages just 35hL/ha annually. Organically farmed and entirely harvested by hand with sorting done in the vineyard. The 2016 Rosé shows a plae pink color and lovely aromas of raspberry, wild strawberry, rose and peach skin. The palate is silky and mineral with subtle raspberry and cherry fruit with stone and citrus flavors, quite long and elegant and finishing with refreshing acidity. This should open up nicely over the next few months and will accompany seafood, chicken and grilled meats this summer. Lovely wine!
85% Grenache, some 100+ years-old, 15% Mourvedre. 70% de-stemmed, aged in old medium and small casks. Bottled unfined, unfiltered. Old-fashioned wine, quite earthy, showing floral ripe cherry and garrigue aromas, with sweet earthy cherry fruit on the palate quite meaty and mineral, with deep red fruits, citrusy acids and earth in the long finsh. Lovely now with a stew or grilled meats, or hold a few years for a mauture experience, drink until 2030+. DL
This is Gigondas at its finest! 100% Grenache from old vines, fermented in cement, and aged in large oak vats before being bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal added sulphur. It gives you that classic Grenache mustiness – like blackberries and blueberries smashed onto the forest floor – but also more fresh and delicate notes of nutmeg and strawberries. Hints of grapefruit peel, vine tomato and pine offer added depth. Given its age, it is still incredibly energetic on the palate with wonderfully resolved tannins and ripe black berry fruit. Truly a complex and delicious wine with a long life ahead of it! Tim Gagnon
(50% Clairette, 25% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, always organically farmed, wild yeast fermentation, aged in enamel vat) Floral dried pear, apricot, hay, thyme aromas. Ripe pear, stone, caramel, lemon on the palate. A big, ripe wine with a supple palate but with good acidity that will pair with fish stews, shellfish, pork and chicken dishes as well as full-flavored goat cheeses. Particularly good in 2015, the Clos du Joncuas (Domaine la Garancière) Seguret Blanc is an outstanding value and highly recommended. DL
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. Although we love this beautifully old-fashioned, organic wine in every vintage, Dany and Carole Chastan have made perhaps their best wine ever in 2015! The wine shows deep aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, prune, garrigue, musk and citrus, quite focused and elegant. The palate is pure, supple and balanced, even at 15% alcohol, with dense blackberry, tart cherry, red currant, spice, earth and minerals, with tart red fruits, minerals and citrus in the very long finish. This is a superb Gigondas that can be enjoyed immensely now with a steak, pork or lamb chops, Morrocan tagines and full-flavored cheeses. Cellar 10 to 15 years for a mature experience. This is a superb wine and a great value - thanks to Carole and Dany for their great farming and traditional winemaking!
From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. 2015 is a great vintage for the always lovely Vacqueyras from Carole and Dany Chastan at Clos du Joncuas. The wine shows very deep aromas of blackberry and floral strawberry compote, earth, citrus, violet and spice. The palate is supple and dense, brightened by floral notes and firm acidity, with ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit, framed in juicy acidity with a very long finish of ripe berry fruits and mineral flavors. This is a beautiful and exuberant wine, quite delicious now, served slightly cool, and it will drink beautifully over the next ten years. A joyful wine and highly recommended! DL
The Dard & Ribo 2015 Crozes Blanc is from 30 year-old vines, more Roussanne than Marsanne, in the "Les Baties" vineyard in Larnage with soils of granite with clay. The wine ages for 12 months in a mix of large and small barrels, with a small percentage new, approximately 250 cs made.
The 2015 Dard & Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Rouge is from numerous sites in the villages of Crozes and Larnage, on mostly granite soils. The fermentation is with whole-clusters, the wine ages in used 600 liter barrels. Organic farming, minimal sulfur.
The reds from Dard & Ribo have been outstanding in recent vintages, with lovely purity of fruit, silky tannins and terrific length. We hope we get to taste the 2015s! The Saint-Joseph rouge is from old vines, mostly on "Pitrou" in Saint-Jean de Muzols, and "Les Champs" in Tournon, with a mix of sandy granite and hard granite with quartz, clay and alluvial stones. Whole cluster fermentation, aging in used barrels for 12 months. 2 bottles per person maximum.
Domaine des Amphores has a small, steep hillside parcel in Condrieu, organic since 2002 and now farmed with biodynamic methods as well. The 2014 Condrieu, 100% Viognier of course, shows elegant aromas of white peach and apricot with crushed stone and mineral notes. The palate is balanced and round with delicate flavors of white fruits, flowers and stone. The wine shows lovely freshness with saline minerals in the finish. Really a delightful wine and a great value in Condrieu!
"Les Mesanges" is a cuvée from organic grapes grown on the best terroir at Domaine des Amphores, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels. This needs some aeration, then shows high-toned aromas of red-currant, blackberry, spice, violets, licorice and stone with a touch of oak. The palate is a bit tight and very mineral with dense blackberry, boysenberry, spice and earth with firm acidity. Finishes with saline acids, red fruits, and hints of licorice, anise and stone. Elegant, balanced and subtle, this will need 3 to 5 years of aging to drink at its best, or drink now, opening well in advance and decanting.
"Detour" is made from a blend of Roussane, Marsanne and Clairette from the Northern Rhone. The aromas are layered with white peach, nectarine and a hint of baking spice. The palate is supple and round with ample flavors of peach skin, ripe apricot, and zesty citrus balanced by a wonderful brightness and mineral quality from the Clairette. This wine was still delicious after being open for three days - not that we expect there to be too many half-finished bottles this vintage! Amanda Bowman
From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting. The Amphores Syrah "les Iris" shows lovely blackberry and blueberry aromas with citrus and floral notes. The palate is light and refreshing with very pretty fruit - the flavors of Northern Rhone Syrah in a bright ready-to-drink style. This will be a great accompaniment to grilled foods and picnics, served quite cool.
"Les Iris" is made from organically tended Viognier vines just south of the Condrieu AOC. The 2015 is elegant and balanced with a powerful minerality. Pale lemon in the glass, the nose offers opulent aromas of peaches, nutmeg, and cut lime flowers. Creamy flavors of peach, touches of brown spice, and lemon zest develop into more tropical notes of mango, tangerine, and stone on the long finish. Forget what you think you know about Viognier and pair this one with chicken, fish or mild cheeses this summer. Amanda Bowman
(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 have added biodynamic methods as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. The 2015 Saint-Joseph shows a lovely melange of blackberry, black cherry and blueberry aromas with violet, rose, roast meat and earth. The palate is dense and complex with earth and mineral notes framing ripe black fruits with licorice citrus and spice. The finish is long with earthy black fruits and mineral flavors. This is a lovely combination of ripe complex fruits with earth and minerals, making it a superb food wine with a variety of grilled and roast meats, North African cuisine and full-flavored cheeses, not to mention "Caillottes." Winner of the 2015 CSW Best Value in Saint-Joseph!
Dumien-Serrette is a happily old-fashioned estate in Cornas with 1.5 hectares in the Patou vineyard, which has primarily granitic soils; the remainder, .3 hectares, is located in Les Savaux. The vines in Patou date back to the 1920’s, with some even exceeding 100 years old. Since the 2010 harvest, half of the fruit has been de-stemmed; grapes are pressed with an old-fashioned basket press and aged 2 years in 2 to 7-year-old barrels. The estate’s total annual production is around 300 cases (600 in 2014). The 2014 is old-fashioned Cornas with aromas of ripe blackberry and black cherry with violet, graphite, citrus, earth and spice. The palate is very earthy and mineral with ripe black fruits, really a wine of the soil. This will drink beautifully with grilled meats and will benefit from decanting or a few years of cellaring. Drink over the next ten to fifteen years. DL
Guy and Thomas Jullien make a small quantity of fascinating and delicious white Cotes du Rhône on their organic estate in Suzette, on the slopes of the Dentelles near Beaumes-de-Venise. "Le Blanc" is made from 45% Clairette, 45% Roussanne and 10% Grenache Blanc grown at high altitude on clay/limestone soils, vinified with some skin contact and with minimal SO2. The 2015 shows soft aromas of tangerine, lime flower, almond butter, and anise along with deeper notes of exotic tropical melon. The palate is broad and textured with a melange of fruit reminiscent of white peach, pineapple, mandarin orange, and apricot balanced by a gentle acidity and the most subtle suggestion of tannin. This would be fantastic with rich fish dishes, pork, and poultry of all kinds. Tim Gagnon
"Very dark color; the nose is destined for appreciation at a second stage of maturity, since it is strongly oaked and full right now, with a glimmer of black berry fruit within. This is serious Crozes, not the bar drinking school at all. The palate has viscous black fruit, Morello cherry, nice and dark. Oak shows on the late stages, will absorb. High quality here. We are close to Hermitage in style. Has a long, sustained, fresh close. From mid-late 2016. Drink until 2024-25" Drink Rhone
The Gripa 2015 Saint-Joseph Blanc is 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne from 35 year-old vines. Drink over the next ten years, decanting recommended.
The Gripa Saint-Joseph "le Berceau" is from the vineyard called "Saint-Joseph" in Tournon, one of the best sites in the appellation, with the Gripas having a full-south exposure and vines planted mostly in the 1920s. The soils are granite with clay and stones. The fermentation is with 30 to 40% whole clusters, with aging in one to six year-old barrels. This is an outstanding old-vine Saint-Joseph that should ideally be cellared for about 5 years and should drink beautifully for fifteen to twenty years.
The 2015 Gripa "Le Berceau" Blanc is 100% Marsanne frm 60+ year-old vines in the "Saint-Joseph" vineyard above Tournon. 215 cases made, a rare and beautiful wine. "This imposes, and is a kingly wine with its steady assertion of ripe flavour and near red wine structure." (DrinkRhone) Drink over the next fifteen years.
The Gripa 2015 Saint-Joseph is from fifteen to sixty-five year-old vines in the "Peygros" vineyard, above "Saint-Joseph," shared by Gonon and Chapoutier, on granite with thin soils. The grapes are de-stemmed and the wine ages in a mix of small and large casks, new to eight years of age. This is a more forward wine that will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years.
Domaine Bernard and Fabrice Gripa is one of the top estates in Saint-Joseph and Saint-Peray, with the whites being particularly stylish and well-made. The Saint-Peray Les Pins is from 30 year-old vines on both granite and limestone soils, 75% Marsanne, 25% Roussanne. Honeyed floral, herbal and citrus aromas, creamy lemon oil, hay and stone.The palate is round and fairly soft with spicy white fruits and lime, but with nice finishing acidity and mineral character. An elegant Rhône white that will drink well over the next 10 years, a great aperitf and a good match with full-flavored fish and pork dishes and mild cheeses.
Isabelle and Arnaud Guicharde make this lovely Rhone red. The estate is certified organic since 2008 and Biodynamic since 2013. Made from Grenache and Syrah, their style here is cool stylish fruit on the palate - blackberry with hints of prune, blueberry and Provencal spices. The finish is long with earthy red fruits and spicy acidity. This is a great value in a complex, balanced Rhone red.
Laurent Habrard is making superb organic wines in the Northern Rhone and is blessed with a tiny parcel in Hermitage "Les Rocoules," whose vines, 99.9% Marsanne, range from approximately 50 to 100 years old! The wine ages 7 months in 1 to 3 year-old barriques and finishes in vat. The 2014 shows a bright gold color and complex ripe aromas of peach, pear, citrus peel, lime-flower, hazelnut, caramel and stone, really extraordinary. The palate is ripe and round with white and yellow fruits, hay, stone, menthol and citrus, rich and long in the finish. Serve this beautiful wine over the next ten years with fish or chicken in sauce, goat cheeses and foie gras. DL
This well-known family estate produces excellent Tavel from certified organic vineyards and includes Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc and Mourvedre! The 2016 shows a bright pink color, with lovely aromas of raspberry and morello cherry with floral and citrus hints; ripe berry fruits on the palate, dense and rich but nicely balanced by bright acidity. The finish is long and refreshing with ripe berry fruits and minerally acidity. Drink over the next two years with a quiche lorraine, salade nicoise, middle eastern cuisine, even grilled foods, especially tuna and pork. Lovely by itself as well!
Mostly from Petite Serine planted in the 1950s on Chavaroche, a superb parcel of granite and schist soils with clay and sand (just west of Cote Brune) a very warm terraced plot sheltered from the north wind. Whole-bunch fermentation, aged one year in old barrels, one year in 15% new, 85% old casks. The 2009 Chavaroche is a magnificent Côte-Rôtie with surprising structure and acidity for the vintage - in fact Nicole Levet suggests drinking the 2010 before the 2009. Superb, elegant nose of deep black fruits, stone and game with hints of cocoa. (Albert Dervieux-Thaise once told me that a good Côte-Rôtie should smell like "le ventre d'un lièvre chaud" - the gut of a warm hare.) This is not that rustic, but definitely has distinctive aromas. The palate is bursting with stony blackberry fruit, with brown spice, citrus, smoke and licorice. This seems softer than the 2010 to me but there is ample lifting acidity and freshness to carry the wine into old age. This is a big, gorgeous Côte-Rôtie that will be a joy to drink over the next 15 to 20 years! David Lillie
From 50-65% Grenache, 15-20% Syrah, 0-10% Carignan, 5-15% Mourvèdre from stony clay-limestone soils on Bois Lauzon & Coudoulet at Courthézon. The vines are on average 45 years-old. The wine ages in concrete tank and old barrels, and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. This is an outstanding Côtes-du-Rhône Villages that shows very dark red/black color with lovely aromas of lush blackberry and red currant with dark chocolate, citrus and spice. The palate is ripe and dense with round, lush berry fruits, earth and mineral flavors backed with firm citrusy acids. This will be a big hit this summer with grilled foods and will be even better after decanting or a few years in bottle. DL
This rosé from Vacqueyras is a prime candidate for any summer grill and barbecue. Primarily Grenache (with 30% Cinsault), farmed without chemical products in the vineyard, hand harvested, and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Winemakers Martine and Christian Vache vinify half of the wine for their rosé in the saignée (bleeding) method, taking juice from red grapes after about 10 hours of maceration and fermenting this separately. The other half is a direct press of partially de-stemmed grapes. Once fermented, the two wines are blended and aged on the lees for 6 months before bottling. The result is a wine of a beautiful pale hue that provides kick and crispness, brambly fresh berry fruit, with peach and rose and a touch of spice. Super dry, and satisfyingly refreshing, it's perfect with salads and snacks, and has enough body to stand up to richer, tangier flavors and grilled meats. Eben Lillie
This delicious Rhone red from the biodynamic Oratoire Saint-Martin is mostly Grenache and Syrah, with Mourvedre, Counoise, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Musacadin and Terret Noir grown on limestone/clay soils. The wine shows a pretty melange of raspberry and cherry aromas with hints of licorice and brown spice. The palate is bright and balanced with tart cherry and berry fruits, with surprising depth, in a lively refreshing frame. Simply delicioius! Serve cool with pork and chicken dishes, charcuterie and mild cheeses.
This lovely Cairanne is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah form 35 to 65 year-old vines, farmed organically for many years. Aged in cement vats, no wood. Dense black/red color, deep aromas of black and red fruits with hints of spice, chocolate, licorice and blueberry. The palate is elegant and ripe with cool blackberry fruit, complex and long with firm acidity and juicy fruit in the finish. This is delicious now served a bit cool, best after a few years of aging - an oustanding Cairanne at a very reasonable price!
The Vincent Paris Cornas "La Geynale" is 85% from the top of La Geynale, including vines from 1910, 15% from Tezier. 80 - 85% whole bunch fermentation, with wild yeasts, aged in 2 - 10 year-old casks. This is one of the top Cornas of 2015.
The Paris Cornas "Granit 60" is from 100 year-old vines in "Les Mazards," 65 year-old vines in "Patou" and 24 year-old vines in "Sauman." The grapes are partially de-stemmed then undergo a 2-3 week vinification with wild yeasts. The wine ages in two to ten year-old barrels and is bottled un-filtered. About 400 to 500 cases are produced.
This juicy and delicious Saint-Joseph comes from 20+ year-old vines at Ardoix (central Saint-Joseph) in a high-altitude vineyard. The grapes are de-stemmed and the wine ages partially in vat, partially in small used barrels.Deep, bright black/red color. Very bright floral aromas with pure berry fruits - blackberry and blueberry - with a bit of musk and roast meat. A bright attack, then very good density and weight on the palate with very ripe berry fruits typical of 2015 backed by firm acidity and intense mineral flavors. This is an extroverted Saint-Joseph, quite ripe and lush, but at the same time quite firm and earthy - delicious now, but give this wine a few years to come together.
Jacqueline André makes this superb white Chateauneuf-du-Pape from one hectare of vines - 40% Clairette planted in the 1920s, with 30% Bourboulenc, 20% Roussanne and 10% Grenache Blanc. Biodynamic farming, aged in vat, malo blocked. Fabulous aromas of pear and green apple with lemon blossom, stone and dried fruits. Very saline and mineral on the palate with intense flavors of dried pear, apple, hazelnut, anise and stone. very dense and long with firm acidity and mineral flavors in the finish. Terrific wine - delicious now with fish or chicken in sauce and full flavored cheeses, or cellar, perhaps best 2020 to 2030. DL
The Richaud 2014 Cairanne is a gorgeous wine made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre, partly made with carbonic maceration. The aromas are ripe and vivid with black cherry, red currant and floral notes backed by earth and dark chocolate. The palate shows lush, bright fruit - a beautiful and intense melange of berries lifted by cool acidity and mineral flavors with fabulous length. Three days later the wine is showing beautifully with a bit more spice in the aromas and fabulous minty black fruits on the palate, very long and complex. Bravo to Marcel Richaud! Serve this lovely wine quite cool with just about anything!
(Marcel Richaud has been making "natural wine" for over 40 years, since taking over from his father in the 1970s. Organic farming, low yields, hand-harvesting for perfect fruit and fermentations with wild yeasts with little or no sulfur.) From Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Counoise and Mourvedre on gravel, sandy, galet stone covered soils, semi destemmed, 8-10 day vinification - 65% semi carbonic maceration, 35% traditional fermentation, aged in concrete vats 6-12 months, unfined, unfiltered. The 2014s from Richaud are simply outstanding! The Terre de Galets shows lovely aromas of black cherry and black raspberry with spice and violets. Very supple, fresh palate with black plum, ripe cherry liqueur, citrus and black pepper with smooth tannins and bright acidity. Very long with ripe fruits and citrusy acids lingering in the finish. Lovely wine - serve cool with grilled meats, chicken, fulll-flavored cheeses.
From a one-half hectare parcel of 60 year-old vines in "Les Rivoires" on the lower slope in Tournon, sandy granite soils. Aged 12 months, 30% foudre, 70% 2 to 5 year-old barrels. This "serious" Saint-Joseph shows lush, bright aromas of blackberry liqueur, with blueberry, violet, citrus, spice and roast meats. The palate is a bit tight and quite elegant with red currant, blackberry and blueberry fruit with firm acidity and mineral flavors. This is an elegant, earthy and well-structured Saint-Joseph that will age beautifully - best probably 2021 to 2030, decant if drinking now.
From hillside vineyards in Erome, Gervans and Crozes, mostly granite with some limestone/clay, average age 45 years, aged 30% in foudre, 70% in one to 7 year-old burgundy barrels. This is no "ordinary" Crozes-Hermitage, but a real wine of terroir from great vineyard sites, all on hillsides. The 2014 is aromatically beautiful with complex aromas of red currant, blueberry, violet, musk and citrus. The palate is softer than in the very structured 2013 vintage, showing red and black fruit liqueur lifted by citrusy acids and finishing with nice mineral flavors, floral notes and supple fruit. This is a very pretty Crozes to drink over the next 5 years, and a great value!
Les Picaudières is perhaps the best vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage, formerly owned by Raymond Roure. 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 range from 20 to 80 years-old. The grapes are hand-harvested and mostly de-stemmed. The wine ages 16 months, 40% in foudre, 60% in burgundy barrels, new to 5 year-old. 2014 is another excellent vintage at Domaine Rousset thanks to the great vineyard and cellar work of Stephane and his father Robert. The 2014 Les Picaudières shows deep pure aromas of blackberry, black cherry and red currant with hints of violets, earth and licorice, a bit riper and more forward than the 2013. The palate is dense and well-structured with black fruits, mint and saline minerals, but soft enough to be absolutely delicious as a young wine. This is a serious wine of terroir - a very elegant Crozes that should be decanted if drunk now, best 2020 to 2030+.
From 60 to 90 year-old vines in the hillside vineyards of "les Vedias" and "Tout" in Erome, decomposed granite with clay and gravel - great terroir producing this serious but overlooked wine from the Rousset family. The Rousset Crozes Blanc is outstanding in 2015 and is one of the finest white wine values in the store! It's an intense and delicious Marsanne showing elegant aromas of lemon, stone, dried pear, almond, apricot and hay - really lovely. The palate is dense, mineral and balanced by firm acidity with citrus, pear, grilled almond, anise and herbal flavors, with a long stone and citrus finish. Delicious in its youth, this will benefit from a few years in the cellar and should be quite interesting in 2025. Serve with white meats, full-flavored fish dishes or provençal fish soup and a wide variety of cheeses. David Lillie
Domaine Saladin is an organic estate in the southern part of the Cotes du Rhône, and proudly states that their soils and vines have never been treated with herbicides or pesticides. Vinifications are with wild yeasts and minimal SO2 is used. The Tralala Rose is a lovely wine with superb, pure red fruit aromas of raspberry and strawberry. The palate is round but balanced with good acidity and the finish is long with pretty red fruits continuing at the end. A really well-made rose that drinks beautifully now and should improve over the next 12 months.
Made primarily from 80 to 90 year-old vines of Serine, generally regarded as an old version of Syrah (which evolved from Mondeuse Blanc and Dureza) with smaller berries which survived through massale selection, principally in Cote Rotie. Serine gives a more aromatic and elegant wine that the larger berried modern Syrah. "From our first day of harvest, 2013 is one of our favorite vintages. The younger vines, which proved austère in the months after bottling, are now showing the remarkable definition that each terroir has gifted to both wines: generosity and smokiness from Saint-Julien’s granits, depth and definition from Brézème. The 30 months of aging in 2500 litre foudres have rendered both cuvées surprisingly approachable for such a classic vintage. The aging potential is exceptional for both wines, and the Brézème is probably the best expression we’ve obtained from this terroir…and at less than 12% alcohol! 2632 bottles, 120 magnums and 10 jéroboams" Eric Texier
From 70-year-old Syrah vines located on the west bank of the Rhône that had been farmed exclusively by a protestant religious order known as D’Arbistes. There has never been a chemical introduced into this vineyard.
Viticulture in Brezeme, on the primarily limestone marl south facing steep hillsides, dates back to Roman times. Records from the early 1800's indicate plantings of Syrah from vines in Hermitage and Cornas. Eric Texier has been instrumental in reviving the vineyards, especially with his Domaine du Pergaud Vieilles Vignes and this lovely Syrah from younger vines. The 2015 Cotes du Rhone Brezeme is a big, well structured wine that retains the freshness and lively character always present in this cuvee. The wine was vinified naturally, without added sulfur. The wine shows vivid aromas of blackberry and black cherry with hints of musk, blueberry, earth and citrus. The palate is deep and textured with earthy black fruits, bitter chocolate and mineral flavors, quite pure and long. Serve now, slightly chilled, with grilled meats, tagines and full-flavored cheeses, or cellar fo five to ten years or more. (As Eric notes below, open the day before, taste, recork, for best results if drinking now.) Lovely wine! DL Notes from Eric Texier: "The 2015 Brezeme is as expected. Tannic, more vintage than terroir driven, needs time. Very similar to 2005 in my book. I still find the later a bit young and closed right now. I hope people will give it a chance to age a bit. At least until this fall, to recover from the mise. Or open it the day before drinking. Bottles open the day before show much better than at opening. Huge potential of ageing."