Northern Rhône, France
We love syrah or shiraz. It is, in our minds, between Bordeaux and Burgundy in both taste and ideal age for drinking.
DOMAINE LES BRUYÈRES12 chemin du stade, 26600 Beaumont-Monteux Tél. 04 75 84 74 14 www.domainelesbruyeres.fr
’12 Saint-Joseph Blanc (€18.50) was made from Marsanne and the ’12 Crozes Hermitage Blanc (€18) was made from Roussane. This made for a very interesting comparison; the Marsanne had body and was nutty whereas the Roussane had more acid and a slightly sweet edge. We found this difference to be typical and also found that we preferred the two to be blended. The ’11 Saint-Joseph Rouge (€16.50) was full of fruit, Mulberries came to mind. We then tasted 2 ’12 Crozes Hermitage Rouge, the Georges Reynaud (€14.50) and the Les Croix Vieilles Vignes (€17). Both were made and aged in oak. The latter obviously had the greater complexity and we bought this.
DOMAINE DES REMIZIÈRES1459 Avenue du Vercors - 26600 MERCUROL Tel 04 75 07 44 28 www.domaineremizieres.com
Remizières also have Marsanne and Roussane, the former as the single varietal in the ’12 Crozes Hermitage Cuvée Particulière (€9.30) and the ’12 Hermitage Cuvée Emilie (€31.60) and then blended in the ’12 Crozes Hermitage Cuvée Christophe (€13.60). The latter two wines were vinified and aged in oak and underwent malaoctic fermentation. We preferred and bought the blend even though the oak was still obvious – given a few years we thought that it would integrate and the wine would become more balanced. Their range of AOC wines ranged from €9.30 to €64.80; we tried the’12 of all but the most expensive. The Crozes Hermitage (€7.50) was simple and reminded us of boiled sweets; the Crozes Hermitage Cuvée Particulière (€9.30) was more complex but, being aged in large oak barrels, missed oak complexity. The Saint Joseph (€13.80) had greater complexity and reminded us of mulberries. The Crozes Hermitage Cuvée Christophe (€14.30) had great fruit on the nose and palate; we bought this. We were lucky to also taste the Hermitage Cuvée Emilie (€34.70) which was a really fine, long lasting wine.
We then headed for the Southern Rhone and tasted at the following domaines on the way back.
DOMAINE CHABOUD21 rue Ferdinand Mallet 07130 St-Péray Tel: +33(0)475 40 31 63
Chaboud whilst not old, is an old-style specialist in the white wines of St-Péray (so old that he does not even have a website). However, Robert Parker gives him a 4 star rating. We tried his ’13 single varietal Marsanne and Roussane (€9) and then the ’12 50/50 blend Alexandré (€10) all of which were made in exactly the same manner. We thought that this was definitely a case of 1 + 1 = 3; the Alexandré was full and rich (although the vintage difference and bottle age probably also had something to do with our preference). We also tried his ’11 Cuvee Boscus (€10) which was also a 50/50 blend but half was made in oak and half in concrete tanks. We bought the Alexandré. We tried his range of Cornas wines. The ’11 (€17) was dark coloured but surprisingly light in the mouth, full of fruit. The ’09 vieilles vignes (€22) was much more complex, good structure, elegant. The ’10 vieilles vignes (€20) had that but also more fruit and great tannins. We bought the two vieilles vignes wines.
JEAN-LUC COLOMBO10-12 rue des Violettes - 07130 CORNAS Tél : +33 475 84 17 10 www.vinscolombo.fr
Cornas’s wines are on the expensive side in the northern Rhone and Colombo’s were no exception. The ’12 Meijans (€26) is made from grapes from a variety of plots at the bottom of the Cornas hill. It was fresh, fruity and simple; described by them as a good introductory wine for Cornas. The ’11 Terres Brulees (€39) was made from grapes at the highest parts of their plots. This to us was typical Cornas; we bought this. The Les Ruchets (€68) was dark, smokey, fruity, spicy and powerful; in other words rather good. The ’07 La louvee (€85) came from east-facing slopes and was described as more feminine, not sure about that; it was almost black in colour with serious fruit. All his wines were definitely in the modern ultra-fruity style. Although out of tasting order we tried their St-Péray as they were somewhat dismissive of Chaboud. The ’12 La Belle de Mai (€21) was consistent with the house style and had spent 12 months in oak. We were happy with our purchase from Chaboud.
Great place for a picnic lunch with a view across the Hermitage hill
No visit to the area is complete without a visit to Chapoutier in the centre of Tain L’Hermitage
We decided, because of the extensive range of wines, to focus on their whites. We started with their St-Péray ’11 Pic et Chapoutier (€13.22), an organic wine that we thought was excellent. We then tried two ’12 Marsanne, the Crozes Hermitage La Petiite Ruche (€13.65) and the Saint Joseph Deschants (€19.55). Both good but the latter had more complexity. The organic ’12 Saint Joseph Les Granilites (€26.25) had tons of oak. We finished with the biodynamique Hermitage Chante-Alouette (€51.70) which had great complexity and forward new oak. They have a 15% discount on these prices if you buy them at the caveau but we did not buy any as they are so freely available in the UK.
We then headed up the right bank towards Llyon
DELAS FRÈRES2 Allée de l'Olivet, 07300 Saint-Jean-de-Muzols Tel +33 4 75 08 60 30 www.delas.com
Delas tasting room and vineyards
Delas tasting room
We started with their range made from bought-in grapes, all vinified in stainless steel tanks with no oak maturation. The ’12 Cotes du Rhone (€7.80) is primarily Syrah which is unusual. This was light with good fruit and the Syrah gave nice acidity and tannins. They also produce half bottle of wine so we will try to stock these as an alternative to the Grenache based Cotes du Rhone. The ’11 Crozes Hermitage Les Launes (€13.20) and ’12 Saint Joseph Les Challeys (€16.80) both had great fruit and were more complex than the Cotes du Rhone as one would expect but we think missed some oak. We then tasted a few wines from their own grapes. The ’12 Saint Joseph Francois de Tournon (€22.85) had some oak flavours, was fruity and complex. The ’11 Côte Rôtie Seigneur de Maurigon (€44.40) we thought was very good whilst the ‘11 Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette (€44.40) was equally good but had even more fruit. The former won a gold medal and the Côte Rôtie Trophy at the 2014 International Wine Challenge. We would have loved to have bought these last two but bought the Cotes du Rhone.
A short distance up the road is Guy Farge but despite their website stating that they were open mornings and afternoons when we arrived their a note in their offices said open mornings only.
DOMAINE PIERRE GAILLARDLieu-dit « Chez Favier » 42520 Malleval tél. 04 74 87 13 10 www.domainespierregaillard.com
The drive through the town of Malleval is worth the trip but Gaillard’s wines don’t disappoint either. We started with their range of wines from Saint Joseph, all ’12. The Saint Joseph rouge (€14.50) was fruity with soft tannins and a hint of oak. The Clos de Cuminaille (€20) was more complex and had a lot more oak, but still well integrated. The Les Pierres had lots of new oak and was spicy and fruity. We then tasted their’12 Côte Rôties. The basic Côte Rôtie (€37) had 10% Viognier that was noticeable. The Espirit de Blonde (€55) comes from the Le Mallard vineyard where they have a small parcel from which they produce only 2000 bottles. The Rose Pourpre (€75) comes from the La Rorier vineyard; powerful and full of fruit. We bought these Côte Rôties. We also tried the ’11 Condrieu Fleur d’Automne (€35) which was made from botrytis grapes, very good.