2016 Yves Cuilleron, Saint-Joseph Blanc, Lieu-Dit “Digue” Roussanne, Northern Rhone, France.
At Rosenthal Imports Tasting in San Francisco featuring their fantastic set of old world producers, with a focus on Rhone and Bordeaux, I was struck by just how brilliant the 2016 Northern Rhone whites were, in some cases like this Cuilleron Saint-Joseph Blanc, they managed to out shine the amazing and show stopping 2015 reds, both from the Rhone and Bordeaux! As a long time follower and fan of Cuilleron, I was thrilled with his latest set of wines, from his generic varietal bottlings, like his pretty Viognier and Marsanne to his Cru (Lieu-Dieu) offerings, both his white and reds are stunning in the 2015 and 2016 vintages, these wines have glorious purity and life as well as textural pleasures and length, they all seem to over perform for the price, and while young still show elegance and complexity. This rare 100% Roussanne Saint-Joseph Blanc Lieu-Dit Digue was my personal favorite, Cuilleron ferments his AOC whites with native yeasts and in wood with long lees elevage (aging in barrel) and malos in small barrels with Burgundy like care and batonage (aged Sur Lie with lees stirring), this especially shows in the heavenly mouth feel and beautiful class in the glass, it’s a fresh and vibrant wine, but with impressive depth and density, it is great alternative to the money pricy Hermitage Blanc, it really is exceptional and ultra quality for the money. The Yves Cuilleron Digue starts with faint delicate white flowers, yeasty notes, wet stone and white orchard fruits on the nose before opening up on the full bodied palate to gorgeous apricot, peach and exotic tropical fruits, which are not overt or sweetly expressed, but lifting and seductive in their subtlety along with hints of fennel, clove and creamy melon and citrus sorbet, a touch of classic oily charm and saline with a background of liquid rock and flinty mineral tones, this an absolutely brilliant wine. The verve and vibrancy add cut and structure, again I was starstruck with this gorgeous Rhone white, and while stunning on it’s own it will gain tremendously with mid term cellaring and would be awesome with lobster or swordfish as well as baked ham or chanterelles in simple rich cuisine. Drink this fantastic Saint-Joseph Blanc over the coming decade, it’s a Roussanne superstar and delivers a huge win for this varietal on the world stage!
($44 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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