2018 Saint Cosme, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Northern Rhone, France.
Louis Barroul’s negociant line of Northern Rhone bottlings seem to get better and better every year and I am a huge fan of this Crozes-Hermitage, which always delivers a full array of classic flavors in the purest form possible with this 2018 showcasing the vintage’s energy and charm, this is a wonderful youthful Syrah to enjoy over the next three to ten years. The 2018 is less dense than the riper 2017 and more like 2016 in my opinion and the freshness of detail is very welcome with lovely black fruits, spice, mineral tones and with hints of game, earth and delicate florals all wrapped up in a compact medium full bodied wine that is great with food. The Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage unfolds with crushed violets, boysenberry, damson plum, blueberry preserves, forest floor notes, snappy licorice and olive tapenade flavors along with good acidity and well judged tannins that hold things tight, but still allow for a graceful mouth feel that is impressive for this appellation, which has in the last decade has become one of my absolute favorite go to regions. Barruol sources his Crozes-Hermitage from the granite hillsides of Gervans and Erôme, just behind Hermitage hill, noted himself that the wines are often quite similar to those of Hermitage, which is no small claim. Going on, he says that where these grapes are grown, could almost be an appellation in its own right because there is a huge difference within the ‘Châssis’ terroirs of Crozes-Hermitage. Interesting, Barruol describes his 2018 Crozes as a long, broad, flavorful, ripe and balanced, exclaiming “what a vintage!” calling it probably one of the best since he started making it, which I find hard to argue with.

The Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage Rouge is crafted from 100% Serine clone, the area’s ancient Syrah variety that many winemakers here covet and think is the region’s best expression of the grape that really transmits the terroir in perfect clarity, which this one certainly does. For the 2018 vintage Barroul went with 100% de-stemmed grapes with no whole cluster, preferring to promote a more elegant profile and excluding the bite of stems in this version, and while I am lover of the whole bunches and racy stem inclusion, this wine lacks for nothing and has the potential to age well, with the promise of even greater rewards coming to those are more patient than me. The 2018 Crozes-Hermitage is a thrilling Syrah that adds touches of lavender, cracked pepper, farm bacon (meatiness) and subtle cedary wood notes as well as creme de cassis, it will go gloriously well with winter cuisine, especially lamb, wild mushrooms dishes and or sweet and smoky BBQ, as well as hard cheeses. These northern Rhone offerings include this Crozes, a rustic and powerful Saint-Joseph, a series of Hermitage (mostly for a special Kermit Lynch line) as well as a Cote-Rotie that is another incredible value. The purple/crimson hued Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage saw a tank primary fermentation and was aged in mostly used barrels with about 20% new oak, which is not overt, but gives this wine a luxurious element that is compelling when contrasted with the Syrah’s natural funk and make this a crowd pleasing wine. Again, I love these Northern Rhone efforts from Saint Cosme, which is known mostly for their legendary Gigondas, if you’ve not had these wines it is way past time to check them out!
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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