2016 Domaine de Gouye, Saint-Joseph Rouge, Vieilles Vignes, Northern Rhone, France.
The old school and traditional Domaine de Gouye, which was established as an estate winery back in 1933, is run by Philippe Debos a low key third generation vigneron from the tiny village of Saint-Jean de Muzols that makes some of the most glorious Syrah (and only Syrah) from his 30 acre parcel of Saint-Joesph vines that you will ever taste, especially this gorgeously perfumed 2016 old vine. The horse and plowed vines and sustainable farming on these wind swept granite hillsides provide the raw material for greatness, and thanks to Sam Smith, head winemaker at Monterey’s Morgan Winery, who did a stint in the Northern Rhone with Francois Villard, and who knows his stuff when it comes to cool climate Syrah, for sharing this special bottle with me, as I had never had this producer before, I really thought I was trying a prestigious Cote-Rotie, you know the type, that unicorn kind of thing, so good was this bottle.
According to Debos’ importer, North Berkey imports, Philippe Desbos selects fruit from his oldest Syrah vines, some as old as 100 years, for this special cuvée, all hand harvested and carefully sorted preserving the whole bunches. The estate’s same non-interventionist approach in their ancient cellar applies, all the fruit is crushed gently by foot, 100% whole cluster, and after a long maceration and primary fermentation with no added sulfur, Debos uses his one hundred and thirty year old vertical press, with the wine then aged in neutral barrels for a year or so. Philippe adds, at Domaine de Gouye, winemaking follows time-tested tradition not because it’s romantic but because it’s the most efficient, and the results speak for themselves, this 2016 Old Vines Saint-Joesph is incredible and sexy with exotic violets, spice and seductive delicacy of form with layers of black and blue fruits.
Tasting it blind, as mentioned had me convinced I was experiencing one of Cote-Rotie’s rarest bottlings, Jamet, Lavet, Rostaing, Villard and others came to mind, so beautiful was the bouquet and the length, it was amazing to find out this was a Saint-Joseph and a wine that is truly affordable!
The palate on Debos’ Vieilles Vignes 2016 is heighten by the stems and natural freshness of the vintage showing fabulous detail and purity with Blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum and currant fruits adding subtle kirsch and creme de cassis along with crunchy mineral, peppercorns, liquid violets, anise and a faint hint of camphor and leather/earthiness. The tannins are remarkably refined, though structured and the wine stays spot on throughout, this is outrageously good stuff, and a winery that is now firmly on my radar, if you want a deal, find this bottling, and drink it over the next 3 to 5 years, it is stunning Syrah and a brilliant effort. The nose alone is worth the price and the texture just adds to the pleasure, this Domaine de Gouye Old Vine St. Joe really leaves a dramatic impression and an impact on the senses while still being authentic and terroir driven, wow, yup I want more.
($40-45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive