The Northern Rhone tasting – Feruary 24, 2015

I’ll be honest, whenever I think of the tastings we do here at the shop, I rarely think about myself.  I tend to ask myself questions like, “What would people like to come out to?”, or “What’s trendy right now?”  But  tonight… oh, tonight.  Tonight was all about me!  A little bit of a confession here, I love the red wines of France’s Northern Rhone Valley.  Syrah grown on granite – I want it.  Somehow, the region seems to have one foot in Burgundy to the North (as it shares its soil type with Beaujolais), and another foot in the south.  I guess that’s why I love the wines so much.  It’s the tug-of-war you can feel within the wines as they try and be two things at the same time – light and rich; elegant and forceful; spicy and fruity.  In other words, thanks to those who attended the event to indulge me!  I loved it.  I hope you did to.  I thought the wines showed amazingly well, but as you can tell, I might be a little biased.

As we always do at the Kensington Wine Market, we ask the group to choose their favorites of the evening, and tonight we had a clear winner.  Jean Louis Chave’s Saint-Joseph came in first, with the Delas Hermitage and Vincent Paris Cornas tying for 2nd place.  It was a night filled with excellent wine, and thank you to all who came out to make it a special evening.


Here are some notes on the wines we tasted:

1.    2011 Yves Cuilleron St. Peray “Les Potiers” (St. Peray) – $43.99
A wonderful white wine made from Marsanne grapes, by a legendary producer! “Cuilleron continues to produce brilliant wines, particularly his dry whites,” says the team at Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. We agree! Saint-Peray, by the way, is a tiny, obscure part of France’s Northern Rhone, where only white wines are made, and all come from the Marsanne or Roussanne grapes.

2.    2012 Chateau de Saint Cosme Condrieu (Condrieu) – $84.99
A wonderful 91 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for this beautiful Viognier! The review: “The 2012 Condrieu is a classic effort that gives up exotic fruits, white peach, apricot and citrus to go with a medium-bodied, clean and pure palate feel. Showing the richness of the variety in its texture, the overall impression here is one of purity and freshness.”

3.    2013 Gilles Robin Crozes-Hermitage “Papillon (Crozes-Hermitage) – $41.99
“Gilles Robin is a young, talented producer,” says Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Also a favourite producer at Wine Spectator, although this vintage has not yet been rated. We think this Syrah is rich and velvety, with a long finish. It is a perfect pairing for slow-roasted lamb or beef, or perhaps game such as bison. It should cellar beautifully.

4.    2011 Jean Louis Chave Saint-Joseph (Saint-Joseph) – $89.99
93 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for this beautiful Syrah! The review: “The stunning 2010 St.-Joseph ranks alongside the finest wines of the appellation, including Guigal’s l’Hospice and Chapoutier’s Les Granits. It boasts a dense purple color along with scents of kirsch, blackberries, crushed rocks, spring flowers and licorice. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age and should drink well for 15+ years thereafter.” From a family-owned winery that’s been making wine since 1472, 20 years before Christopher Columbus made his first trip from Spain to the Americas.

5.    2010 Delas Hermitage “Domaine des Tourettes (Hermitage) – $101.99
96 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! The review: “One of the finest Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes I have ever tasted is the 2010, which comes close to rivaling their prodigious 2009. A wine of great intensity, it possesses an inky/purple color, plenty of creme de cassis, licorice, lead pencil shavings, camphor, flint and barbecue smoke characteristics, and a thickness and viscosity that eclipse that of the 2009. Full-bodied and powerful with sweet tannins, a striking floral/mineral component in the mid-palate, and a huge, massive finish, this brilliant Hermitage should be consumed between 2018-2035.”

6.    2012 Vincent Paris Cornas “La Geynale” (Cornas) – $87.99
A hard-to-find wine, from “an up and coming superstar of Cornas,” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, which gave it a mighty 96 points: “An inky purple color to go with massive aromas and flavors of blackberry, blueberry, pen ink, liquid violets and searing minerality. Offering up a muscular, full-bodied, chewy and tannic profile on the palate, with stunning purity, this serious effort needs to be forgotten for 5-6 years, and will have over two decades of ultimate longevity.”

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