2016 Cave Yves Cuilleron, Saint-Joseph Rouge “Cavanos” Vieilles Vignes, Northern Rhone, France.
The last three vintages for Yves Cuilleron have been exceptional and this old vine 2016 Saint-Joseph Rouge “Cavanos” is outstanding again with wonderful life and layered fruit with classic character and terroir personality. Yves, who is the third generation, belatedly took over the family domaine in 1987, has since made a huge name for himself and brought significant fame to the estate and cellar, he has also built an entirely new facility within the family’s historic hometown of Chavanay in which to produce his wines, while at the same time has acquired additional key plots of vines. The domaine is now about 52 hectares of top vineyards in multiple Northern Rhone appellations, including thrilling old vine sites in Condrieu, Saint-Joseph, Cote Rotie, Saint Péray, Crozes-Hermitage as well as Cornas and a series of Vin de Pays from the Collines Rhodaniennes, reviving areas that were once where the Romans had vines in ancient times.
Cuilleron’s whites are secretly some of my favorites of the Northern Rhone region, they are way underrated and truly magnificent wines, especially his stunning 100% Viognier Condrieu(s) as well as his powerful Roussanne and Marsanne blends, and in particular his all Roussanne Saint-Joseph Blanc “Digue”, but I also love the reds too, as Yves has a deft touch with Syrah. The 2016 Saint-Joseph Rouge “Cavanos” Vieilles Vignes is a standout, certainly for the price with a gorgeous core of boysenberry, damson plum, black currant, mission fig and kirsch along with a hint of graphite/charcoal and a lovely violet floral perfume as well as a touch of earth, pepper and anise. While quite dense in the mouth there is plenty of energy and sharp detailing keeping it fresh and vibrant, it is a vintage that should go many years if not decades. Cuilleron de-stemmed on the Cavanos, which allows for the luxurious purity of form here and it saw a three week cuvaison in open top vats, before the wine was racked into smaller barrels for the malolactic fermentation and aged for 18 months before bottling. This is very polished and opulent Syrah, much in the same style as all of Cuilleron’s wines, but with the added dimension of this superb vintage, it is young wine that drinks well now and will age for 10 to 15 years, I hope to drink a few myself!
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive