Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 31, 2019

2018 Joyce Wine Company Syrah, Tondre Grapefield, Santa Lucia Highlands -photo grapelive

2018 Joyce Wine Company, Syrah, Tondre Grapefield, Santa Lucia Highlands.
At a Halloween party with some scary good wines on offer, one really stood out, this new Joyce Syrah from the Tondre Grapefield vineyard site in the Santa Lucia Highlands, it is another big step up for winemaker Russell Joyce and this Monterey winery, it is an absolutely gorgeous and complex wine with beautiful fruit purity, a background of savory elements and highlights the brilliance of the vintage locally. The aromatics are sexy with blaclk fruits, crushed violets and a subtle meatiness along with stem influences before revealing dark marionberries, plum and black cherry fruits on the medium to full bodied youthful palate along with herbs de Provence, minty anise, creme de cassis, peppercorns, tangy briar notes and a hint of graphite. The 2015, 2016 and the 2017 versions were all lovely versions, but this one really takes it to the next level with its total completeness and shows Joyce’s progression in winemaking and his tweaks here have been amazingly successful to allow this site to fulfill its potential and stylistically this wine takes its own path and follows the old school Northern Rhone tradition with the use of partial whole bunches.

The performance here was made even more impressive by the fact I tasted it side by side with one of Louis Barruol’s latest Crozes-Hermitage, in fact I would have probably have had a hard time picking which was which if blind tasted, so good was this Joyce Tondre Syrah! Right now, there are some thrilling California Syrah wines out there, like Drew’s Valenti and Perli Vineyards, Desire Lines Wine Co.’s Griffin’s Lair and Shake Ridge offerings as well as Paul Gordon’s Halcon Vineyards, all of which, and including this one are exceptional values. Joyce employed early picks of the Syrah fruit and fermented in cement tank with 60% whole-cluster with the wine aged in a combination of cement and neutral French barrels, all of which was preserve freshness and vitality, keeping natural alcohol down and showing the sandy loam terroir of the SLH. This deep purple/ruby Syrah is serious stuff and will certainly gain with bottle age, though it is impossible to resist even now, especially with robust and or rustic protein laced cuisine, it will be awesome with wild mushroom dishes, grilled meats, roast poultry and even Korean BBQ! Drink this outrageously cool Syrah over the next 3 to 5 years, Syrah geeks should not miss this way.
($35 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 30, 2019

2014 Mousse Fils, Special Club Brut Champagne, Meunier – Les Fortes Terres, Vallée de la Marne, France -photo grapelive

2014 Mousse Fils, Special Club Brut Champagne, Meunier – Les Fortes Terres, Vallée de la Marne, France.
The brilliant 100% Meunier 2014 Special Club by Cedric Mousse, Champagne Mousse Fils’ 12th generation wine grower, is one of the most exciting Champagnes of the vintage so far and delivers a gorgeous performance in glass with vinous roundness and incredible minerally, this is a stunning bubbly. There is a lot to love from Mousee, especially if you are a Meunier freak, which is now an identity I embrace, Mousse was the very first all Meunier Special Club producer and their lineup from the clay and mineral rich soils in Vallee de la Marne are is one of the best I’ve tried that features this grape and they remind me of the more famous Jerome Prevost, but with their own unique flourish. This 2014, a Blanc de Noirs, is brisk and lively with a beautiful and refined mousse and elegant beading of the bubbles showing layers of lemon, apple, liquid mineral, wet stone, flinty notes, brioche and a delicate floral note along with a creamy texture and length that really impresses. This fine Meunier Special Club Brut is fresh and vibrant, but deepens and gets better and better with every sip, becoming a complex and thrilling sparkler that can be enjoyed on a special occasion and or with a meal, it has the depth to cover your needs and goes with a good range of cuisine.

The Mousse Special Club Brut, which is pure grower fizz, comes from the estate’s single vineyard Cuisle, with this bottling being 100% from the Les Fortes Terres Lieu-Dit and was fermented in all stainless and went through full malos with 36 months of lees aging. Mousse is working all sustainable with mostly all organic practices, with a holistic approach being used here with no pesticides and minimal use of copper to allow the vineyard to really express itself in the wines. Cedric, who has worked in Bordeaux at Pomerol’s Chateau Trocard as well as Napas Valley’s Freemark Abby built a new and modern winery at Mousse and adopted renewables with color and geothermal power sources, making him a pioneer in his region of Champagne, only about an hour or so east of Paris. Terry Theise, the grower producer Champagne guru and importer took his time, almost 6 years, to take a chance on this young winemaker and bring these Meunier based Champagnes to the united state, his first grower estate focused on Meunier, and is now a great believer in Mousse and the grape. I am a huge fan of this collection, especially this new Special Club, and his Les Vignes de Mon Village Brut Nature, which is one of my go to bubblies, if you’ve not had Mousse, now is the time to discover this awesome producer.
($110 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 29, 2019

2017 Halcon Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard, Anderson Valley. -photo grapelive

2017 Halcon Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
The latest from Halcon, is fourth vintage of Oppenlander Pinot Noir made by this small winery run by Paul Gordon, who Halcon Estate Vineyard is the source of one the best Syrahs in California. The extremely cool located Oppenlander Vineyard, which sits just 8 miles from the town of Mendocino, and comes from deeply (own) rooted vines, mostly clone 115, that makes up about two-thirds of this 2017 vintage, with the remains one-third being Pommard. Gordon, who had the help of Scott Shapely, the talented winemaker who crafts Gary Franscioni’s Roar wines through the 2017 vintage and the Oppenlander has that feel about, with pretty serious fruit and a nice sweet toasty wood note backed up with some whole bunch savory tones and good natural acidity balancing everything out. The 2017 Oppenlander Pinot Noir, like a few of the Anderson Valley wines I’ve tasted so far is still primal and has loads of potential to become a thrilling wine over time, that said there’s a lot of pleasure to be had in its youth too with gorgeous purity of fruit, a touch of spice, mineral, earth and smoky wood. The layers unfold with crushed raspberry, plum and currant all wrapped around a core of cherry along with a mix of dusty and minty herbs, anise, forrest floor and a touch of vanilla. The body fills out with air a makes for caressing palate and while the aromatics are a bit muted at this point there seems to be an inner perfume of rose petals ready to come out along with a bit of pomegranate, both of which eventually come out from hiding in glass after 15 to 20 minutes.

Halcon Vineyards, again mostly known for their Alturas Syrah, also make of the most interesting Petite Sirah wines available with those grapes coming from the Yorkville Highlands and the terraced Theopolis Vineyard, as well as doing this well made Pinot Noir, along with micro bottlings of Roussanne, Mourvedre and a GSM blend, all of which offer high quality drinking for very modest prices. If you’ve not had these Halcon wines, it is way past time to discover them, especially the mention Syrah(s), but don’t overlook the Petite Sirah or this one either. Gordon utilized about 40% whole-cluster and this wine was aged in 20% new French oak barrel, then bottled unfined and unfiltered, with everything done as gently as possible and to allow the vineyard site to show through and to be an authentic and transparent Pinot Noir. The high amount of whole cluster and stems really adds to the energy and fleshy mouth feel and it should only get better and better with age, it also can be drunk with lots of food choices from blackened salmon to grilled meat as well as seared duck breast and or wild mushroom dishes. At about 13.3% natural alcohol this Pinot is refined and looks set to get even more silky, but still with depth, complexity and concentration, it’s luxurious stuff with a lovely ruby dark hue and admirable length and grace to impress most any Pinot fans. I am going to hide a bottle from myself with a time capsule note to open in just under a decade and see what emerges from the bottle, I am thinking it will be very rewarding indeed.
($35 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 28, 2019

2017 Piedrasassi, Syrah “PS” Santa Barbara County -photo grapelive

2017 Piedrasassi, Syrah “PS” Santa Barbara County.
Piedrasassi’s winemaker Sashi Moorman is one of California’s best and most influential winemakers, though still relatively unknown to the public, somewhat like Eric Baugher is at the famed Ridge Vineyards, after helping establish Stolpman in the mid nineties he is now the winemaker behind Raj Parr’s Sandhi, Domaine de la Cote and Oregon’s Evening Land wineries. Sashi’s personal label, Piedrasassi is dedicated to cool climate Syrah mostly, though he has started focusing on Mourvedre as well in recent vintages, and this “PS” is his shockingly good entry level wine, coming from Moorman’s vineyards sites that range from Ballard Canyon (Santa Ynez Valley) in the east to the Santa Rita Hills and Arroyo Grande in the west. Moorman, who was himself influenced by Syrah pioneers and mentors like Bob Lindquist of Qupe and Adam Tolmach of the Ojai Vineyard, had Andrew Murray as friendly completion, both being from about the same generation, the same area and also focused on Syrah, along with established Rhone superstars, John Alban of Alban Vineyards and the cult label Sine Quo Non by the eccentric Manfred Krankl, helped lift Syrah in the Santa Barbara region, making it some of the most sought after wine in the state. Taking his own path, his wines at Stolpman and with Piedrasassi seem more stem influenced and his own really take that to the next level with a nod to Cornas, like the wines of Thierry Allemand and old school Cote-Rotie like Domaine Jamet with low sulphur and whole-cluster fermentations plus the use of cement vats rather than flashy oak.

Moorman’s are extreme and intriguing examples of Syrah with old world winemaking, but with perfectly ripened California fruit, mostly from sandy soils and close to the ocean with wines that, as he puts it, are then raised in large, used barrels, and, finally, bottled without any fining or filtration. He believes that the wines, with stem inclusion, are more expressive and develop more aromatic complexity, they also have more savory tones, earthiness, tension and gain in purity with bottle age, with this PS version already being a wildly compelling Syrah showing liquid violets, Ollailieberry pie filling, black cherry, plum and blueberry fruits, Cinghiale bacon, peppercorns, loamy earth, minty herb and licorice. A touch of reductiveness gives a slight natural and funky whiff, but this go away after the first sip and this medium to full bodied wine. Syrah is seeing a robust moment in time with many fine options like this Piedrasassi PS offering an exceptional value, and it joins newer versions from Greg Brewer (Ex Post Facto), Drew Family, Halcon and Desire Lines Wine Co. to name a few as the new wave of Syrah producers that you’ll want to discover. This PS always sells out, it is not hard to see why, especially for the price, but also look for the Bien Nacido, the Patterson & Sebastiano Vineyards, and maybe the signature bottling Rim Rock Vineyard in Arroyo Grande, they are stunning wines! This vintage is a huge success for the PS and it is going to surprise a few people with its ability to age, at this price, get all you can and enjoy it with robust cuisine.
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 27, 2019

2017 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Riesling Trocken, Burgergarten, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany -photo grapelive

2017 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Riesling Trocken, Burgergarten, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz, Germany.
The Burgergarten in the Haardt vineyard as used by the famed Mueller-Catoir, or hill garden, is a Premier Cru site that is composed of weathered yellow sandstone interspersed with layer of loess and clay giving the perfect conditions to make a lush, but crisply dry Riesling of refined elegance and with a concentrated underlying power, which in 2017 is incredible and joyously perfumed. Muller-Catoir, which converted to 100% organic in between 2007 and 2009, uses a more reductive (non oxidative) winemaking style, with a gentle crush, a long skin contact, and a very slow pressing of the grapes as to not push bitter phenolics from the seeds, along with their ferments at warmer than what is considered normal temperatures in stainless steel tank. Mueller-Catoir, which was founded back in 1774, is now run by Philipp David Catoir, the ninth generation of Catoir’s to do so and has the Martin Franzen as the cellar master (winemaker) and who took over from the legendary Hans-Günther Schwarz in 2001, and in my opinion has even raised the quality here. The 2017 Burgergarten Trocken goes a long way to proving that with exotic tropical fruit and floral aromas with plumeria, jasmine, dried pineapple, gingery/peppery notes and grilled citrus leading the way on the racy palate, this Riesling feels a bit like Trimbach’s Cuvee Frederic Emile, adding layers of wild peach, while cherry, tangy apricot and zesty lime notes along with loads of tannin like structure, zippy acidity, chalky stones and a Chablis like steely edge! Air brings more body out and clears the touch of reduction that easily blows and this Riesling becomes in fact more white Burgundy like in some ways, while also gaining hints of spearmint, chamomile and verbena, which clearly are Riesling influences and it is strikingly impressive for keeping its tension , clarity and severity, like a firm GG should.

Parts of Burgergarten were originally planted 700 years ago, making it one the first vineyard sites to be in the Pfalz region, which is not all that from from Alsace and one of the more interesting regions of Germany, it’s chalky soils much different from the classic slate of the Mosel and to those of the Rheingau and the Nahe. This area can produce monumental dry Riesling, as witnessed here with this Erste Lage Trocken from Mueller-Catoir, but it can also do riveting Pinot Noir, Scheurebe, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, especially when done by the neighboring Von Winning estate as well as one of the best dry Muscats or Muskateller in the world, of which Mueller-Catoir is my favorite. Terry Theise, Mueller-Catoir’s famous importer, says the estate produces wines of outstanding transparency and density, and remains emblematic of Riesling at its most sophisticated, and I totally agree, these are amazingly pure wines that are both wildly entertaining in expression and wines of remarkable class and finesse. I have long been a fan, as longtime readers of my reviews will have certainly noted, and while Theise has waxed lyrically about the Spatlese and Auslese here, I am completely seduced with the dry wines at Mueller-Catoir and this one is no exception, in fact I find it as compelling as the GG’s! This not Riesling for the sweet toothed or for hot and spicy cuisine, it is more at home with unadorned sushi, the freshest of mackerel, toro and or crab cakes. This Burgergarten grows on you with every sip and should get even more intriguing with 3 to 5 years more are on it, patience I think will be well rewarded, and I hope I get to revisit it a few more times.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 26, 2019

2017 Brick House Vineyard, Pinot Noir “Select” Willamette Valley, Oregon -photo grapelive

2017 Brick House Vineyard, Pinot Noir “Select” Willamette Valley, Oregon.
One of my favorites from the legendary Doug Tunnell and team at the all biodynamic Brick House Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is their most approachable of the Pinot Noirs, the “Select” which is a moderately priced, estate grown wine that is only produced in exceptional vintage, like this one. The “Select” is a selection of barrels representing all the vineyard blocks on the farm, in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, all of which were picked at the discretion of the winemaker. The lively nature and expressive personality of the vintage is captured wonderfully in the Select Pinot and it shows the house style and terroir to near perfection with layers of dominate blue fruits, delicate spice, mineral tones and a touch of earthy charm to go with a lifted bouquet that is pretty in floral detail and is echoed on the dreamy aftertaste. The Select delivers a medium bodied, smooth textured palate of blackberry, cherry, blueberry and strawberry fruits along with a bit of briar spiciness, refined oak notes as well as wilted roses, loamy/woodsy chanterelles and orange marmalade. This is a stylish and satiny wine, but one that has a sophisticated structure, vigorous energy and inner (acidity) vibrancy, especially in its youthful form.

Brick House Vineyard, which was founded in 1990 and was an early adopter of organics, believes biodynamic agriculture holds particular appeal for winegrowers to achieve better quality, and became totally certified in the practice in 2002, making it one of the first in the region. Tunnell, who was clearly influence by the top domaines in Burgundy that use biodynamic techniques calls the methods holistic, regenerative for the soils and adds a positive spiritual approach with its close attention to nature’s cycles it harnesses energies not always obvious to the naked eye. The winemaking is traditional and like others of this generation gives a nod to the old world, in particular the Cote de Nuits classics. Brick House Vineyard has a collection the modern Dijon clones as well as blocks of Pommard and Wadensvil, two of the mainstay old clones in Oregon. Brick House also does one of the finest new world Gamay Noirs, it is a lovely wine itself and holds its own with this estate’s great Pinot Noir offerings. Along with Cameron Winery, Beaux Freres, St. Innocent and Ken Wright Cellars, to name a few, Brick House Vineyard is part of the generation that put Oregon wine where it is now, and for that we are grateful. Don’t miss these 2017s from Oregon, like this Select from Brick House!
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 25, 2019

2018 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Trocken, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr***, Mosel Germany -photo grapelive

2018 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Trocken, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr***, Mosel Germany.
The 2018 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr “Three Stars” barrel sample is Selbach’s Grand Cru dry Riesling, a GG by another named if you will and it has the presence, brisk mineral crunchiness and structure to rival the best in region, but with this estate’s gorgeous vinous pleasures and generosity on the palate and like its siblings the block designate Andrecht, Rotlay, also in Sonnenuhr, and the Bomer, this Riesling has weight and impact you’d see in a Hermitage Blanc. As Terry Theise, the famed Riesling guru and importer notes, the Selbachs are the primary owners of this Sonnenuhr site, named for the hours of radiant sunshine it receives. This is, Theise adds, the steepest of the main three vineyards at Zeltinger, and there are large outcroppings of rock with chunks of blue Devonian slate with a very shallow subsoil of decomposed slate and this is also the driest of the vineyards, and generally speaking, these wines are full-bodied, and a bit flashier in style, which I also find, with amazing mouth feel and exotic notes. This is sexy jaw dropping stuff in this vintage, and even though it wasn’t in its final form, you can just tell this is next level stuff with layers of orchard fruits, crisp citrus, tropical essences, wet stones and spicy crystalized ginger race at you, it kind of reminds me of a dry version of a Willi Schaefer Graacher Auslese with that impressive richness and never ending aftertaste, though still high toned and structured with gripping extract. This Sonnenuhr Three Stars Trocken cascades across the lush palate with creamy apricot, mango, green apple and tangerine fruits, but is exact and chiseled with vivid acidity and steely/flinty mineral tones as well as crystalized ginger, minty herb, salty sea shore, wet shale, a hint of smoke and lees along with a delicate lime blossom, verbena and lingering peach.

Theise adds as well, that the Selbach family’s heritage in the wine business goes back centuries to 1660, with Selbach’s historical ancestors shipping wines down the Mosel in their own ships, the wine carried in oak barrels made by cooper Matthias Oster, the great-grandfather on the paternal side of the family, noting Thus, the winery developed as both a top estate producing some of the region’s best wines, especially their Rieslings like this one, and also as a négociant, a wine trader and shipper. The cellar at Selbach, under the direction of Johannes, has continued the use of traditional oak fuder in his cellar, bringing in new large casks every few years. The vinification here in this renown Mosel estate is carried out in a combination of fuder and stainless steel, in an hands-off manner with no fining, and predominantly with “Sponti” of wild yeasts. Johannes Selbach, who has the talents of Christian Vogt, the ex winemaker at Kartauserhof, as well as Sebastian, his son and next generation helping him out, is in pursuit of purity and aims for a typical modern Mosel style, which reflects the minerality of the rocky Devonian slate soils, a bit drier than 20 years ago, as well as the elegance and finesse of perfectly grown and ripe Riesling fruit. This vinous and captivating Riesling is an under the radar Grand Cru quality offering that you’ll have to really search out, but it is worth it, as very few wines reach this level of greatness at this price, and the more commonly found Kabinett level wines with their low alcohol grace are also exceptional Rieslings for any occasion, 2018 is another gem of a vintage for Selbach-Oster, keep an eye out for them.
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 24, 2019

2018 Avaler, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County -photo grapelive

2018 Avaler, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County.
Wonderfully open, pure and delicious, the newest addition to the value lineup at Avaler, is their Sonoma County Pinot Noir, which is sourced from two sites, one in the Russian River and one in the western Sonoma Coast and is a high quality and limited production wine that is compelling from start to finish. Avaler, a price conscious label of small production wines started by two friends, winegrower Jon Phillips of Inspiration Vineyards and winemaker Dylan Sheldon, who is regularly featured here with wines crafted under his (and his wife Tobe’s) Sheldon Wines label, a micro winery in the Santa Rosa area that does an amazing set of eclectic bottlings from sparkling Tempranillo, Graciano and Petite Sirah to Sangiovese and his much beloved Grenache. Most recently, I reviewed the Avaler “R Own Cuvee” that is a Rhone inspired red that has almost 20% Viognier blended in with Grenache and Syrah in a wine that is Cote-Rotie meets Cotes du Rhone with lush California fruit, it’s a fun wine, but I really adore this new Pinot they are just about to release. The 2018 Avaler Pinot Noir is racy fresh, but still richly flavored and satiny on the palate showing black cherry, plum and strawberry fruits along with a light toasty note, sassafras, earl grey tea, blood orange and a hint of rose petals and smoky vanilla.

Dylan and Jon made only 128 cases of this easy to love Pinot Noir using 80% neutral French oak and just one or 20% new barrel, with an elevage of just eight months to keep things as pure as possible, while allowing complexity and silky texture to develop. The grapes were careful picked here with 60% being Calera clone from the Russian River, which gives the ripe lush character as well as a nice spicy edge and 40% being Pommard clone from the Sonoma Coast that seems to give a sense of coolness, mineral and structure with a layer of seductive earthiness in the back ground, and at 13.8% natural alcohol this is a finely balanced wine that will also please a crowd with its opulence. With air this ruby/garnet hued Pinot gains the added dimension and detail just mentioned and while super tasty now, there is good reason to believe it will evolve for quite a few years, though as nice as it is, it is not likely too many will want to wait. This will be a good holiday meal, no guilt, quaffer from a vintage that is set to offer up some spectacular wines, as Sheldon puts it, affordable delicious wines should be on your dinner table every night, and that’s what this label does, they are tiny lots of good drinking wines made by good people, it’s a good time to Avaler up.
($28 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 23, 2019

2008 Domaine Marcel Deiss, Huebuhl Cru, Cru d’Alsace, France -photo grapelive

2008 Domaine Marcel Deiss, Huebuhl Cru, Cru d’Alsace, France.
The pretty semi sweet Huebuhl by Deiss is essentially a V.T. (Vendange Tardive) being a late harvest style wine with higher sugars and with some botrytis, which shows with its honeyed fruit and textural quality, and uniquely it was crafted with a cepage make up of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir crushed without skin contact. The Marcel Deiss winery, one of Alsace’s great estates and most innovative in creating non mono varietal Cru wines and are leaders in the region in biodynamic and organic farming. They make some of the most intriguing wines in Europe, especially their fantastic Altenberg Grand Cru, Schoenenbourg Grand Cru and my favorite the Mambourg Grand Cru, which are bottlings that are some of the best white wines in the world. I really enjoyed this Huebuhl with its mature notes and rich palate that shows baked apple, dried apricots, gingerbread, pineapple and golden fig along with a hint of creme brûlée and grilled orange, it’s a generous and serious wine that begs for seared Foie Gras or a light tangy fruit or savory tart, plus surprising it goes with briny dishes too, like oysters.

This honeyed and lush white was made with grapes coming from a small mountain pass that separates Bergheim from Ribeauvillé, as importer Becky Wasserman notes, Huebuhl (which literally means ‘early growing and wet place’) is a small hollow that slopes away gently, joining Grunspiel to the West and Rotenberg to the East set on clay soils of an ancient lake bed, and is located in a slight hollow that encourages the development of the mentioned “noble rot” botrytis. Not as overtly sweet as Sauternes, the Huebuhl was handcrafted with a very slow whole-cluster pressing, lasting up to 12-hours, with a 100% natural yeast fermentation and then was aged for 12 months in large, ancient well seasoned neutral oak foudres. This is a complex and fascinating wine that will thrill with its spice, opulent mouth feel and the exotic joyous flavors that unfold, the Pinot Gris here seems to give this wine its unique character and personality, but that is just my own opinion, as these wines are more about place/terroir than the individual varietal. This wine is a special treat and would be great to celebrate Thanksgiving with, it is a classy version of an Alsace classic.
($39 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 22, 2019

2017 Saint Cosme, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Northern Rhone, France -photo grapelive

2017 Saint Cosme, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Northern Rhone, France.
The beautiful and sultry 2017 Crozes from Louis Barruol at Chateau de Saint Cosme is highly entertaining, complex and remarkably easy to quaff even now in its infancy with classic terroir influences and warmly ripe dark fruits, making for a seductive 100% Serine heirloom clone Syrah. Barruol, famous for his estate Gigondas southern Rhone wines, loves his northern Rhone negotiant bottlings, especially his Crozes-Hermitage notes that Syrah at Crozes-Hermitage shows (us) what the balance of a Syrah can and should be, suffused with freshness and pretty peony aromas, and a salty palate that gives depth, but unfurls with no heaviness. I wholeheartedly agree and this vintage has it all and more showing layers of pepper laced blackberry, blueberry, black currants and damson plum fruits along with crushed violets, graphite, loamy earth and black licorice to start with a nice burst of acidity, satiny tannin, a touch of cedar and sweet smoke, all with a vinous textured elegance.

Saint Cosme really allows the place and vintage to speak in its most true and best voice in its wines, and this Crozes especially proves this point and is an example of authentic and classic varietal purity and over the last 3 releases I’ve found stunning quality here, making for outrageous value for the money. For the 2017 version, Barruol and team did 100% de-stemming and fermented in vats before aging the Crozes in 20% new oak casks, with the remaining wine in once and twice used barrels for 12 months. Saint Cosme sourced this wine from extraordinary hillside vines set in granite soils around the villages of Crozes, Larnage, Gervans and Erôme where Barruol has contracts with old vine parcels, which Barruol says can compete with the more famous Hermitage, and while this wine is not in direct competition with the wines of Chave, Chapoutier and or Jaboulet, it does put a huge Syrah inspired smile on my face! This is irresistible stuff showing gorgeous detail and is fabulous with an array of cuisines from Korean BBQ to Zuni Chicken, in particular it is joyous with lamb kabob and or wild mushroom dishes, drink now or hold for 3 to 5 years.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive