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The 2012 “Cuvée Millepertuis” from Christian and Nadia Charmasson at Balazu des Vaussieres is made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan, which undergoes an approximately two month carbonic maceration, followed by pressing and 3 years in vat (no wood). The wine shows a deep black/red color and complex earthy aromas of black cherry and blackberry from old-vine Grenache, with a cool, fresh aspect, a real product of living soils. The palate is complex and beautiful with dense black cherry, blackberry, earth, citrus, rose, cocoa and licorice with a long tart, earth and mineral finish. Anyone who appreciates natural wines should try this! Our thanks to Christian and Nadia for their beautiful work... David Lillie
The Balazu des Vaussieres 2013 Rouge “Dent de Lion” was made with Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache with 25% of Grenache Blanc and Clairette. No chemicals are used in the vines and no additives are used in the winemaking - a long carbonic maceration followed by pressing and three years in vat. Even though it was a root day when we visited last winter, the wine showed exuberant aromas of red currant, blackberry, plum, violet, spice, cocoa and orange peel, bringing a smile to our faces. The palate shows a cool, light aspect, a bit similar to the L'Anglore reds, with dense, brambly red currant and blackberry lifted by bright acidity and a bit of tannin, with spicy berry fruits, earth and citrus lingering in the finish. This is a beautiful natural wine, serve cool and enjoy! Highly recommended. David Lillie
The 2015 “Vin Libre” is predominantly Grenache Blanc and Clairette with Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Bourboulenc. A complex and elegant wine of the south, at 14% alcohol, the wine shows a deep gold/hay color with complex aromas of peach skin, dried flowers, lemon confit, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense and ripe with white peach and pear, citrus, mineral and earthy flavors. There is a bit of skin tannin and firm acidity in the very long finish. This is an extraordinary and soulful natural wine from the stony soils of Tavel and Roquemaure - perfect with bouillabaisse with aioli, monkfish in sauce and white meats, or just sip and contemplate. Highly recommended. On the label of the Blanc and Rosé is the Berber Flag from North Africa (Nadia’s heritage) with the symbol of the free man and three colors representing Berbers who lived by the sea, in the mountains and in the desert. David Lillie
(75% Grenache with Mourvedre, Syrah, Vaccarese, Counoise, Cinsault. De-stemmed, aged in large barrel, 550 liter casks and vat.) The "regular" cuvee from Bosquet des Papes is a consistently great value in a traditional style, and soft enough to drink young. "Quite dark, bright and full red. Welcoming, shapely red fruit aroma — immediate appeal, comes with a little smokiness, ash. Really good palate, tasty start, runs with a consisitent flow, strawberry jam in the flavor. Fresh and clear at the end, very faithful to it's place a wine of terroir, good balance. Drink from spring 2012 to 2023-2025." JLL
Chapelle Saint-Theodoric is a joint venture between the Grangeon family of Domaine de Cristia and their USA importer Peter Weygandt. Le Grand Pin is all Grenache from the Pignan vineyard on sandy soils. Whole-cluster fermentation in concrete vat with wild yeasts, minimal extraction, aged in 4 to 10 year-old large casks. This is a beautiful old-fashioned Chateauneuf that is all finesse and beauty, very Burgundian in style and absoulutely delicious. The wine shows elegant aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violet, roast meat, graphite, citrus and Provencal garrigue, quite complex. There is intense sappy fruit on the palate with elegant cherry, raspberry, dark chocolate and earth. Very long, dense and ripe but balanced and bright, not at all heavy or over-extracted. The finish is lovely with sappy fruit and mineral flavors lingering on the palate. Delicious as a young wine, this should cellar beautifully, best perhaps 2023 - 2030. DL
The Charvin Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé comes from a 1.5 hectare parcel planted to mostly Grenache and Cinsault. The grapes are grown organically and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The vines are planted on sandy soils with clay and galets roulés (the famous round rocks covering the soil of Chateauneuf-du-Pape) and are an average age of 40 years. The 2017 exhibits notes of strawberries and cream, raspberry and ripe peach. The fruit is balanced by a slight herbaceous character, a lingering mineral quality and steely texture. A perfect pairing for summer salads and days by the pool, yet I also wouldn't hesitate having this with some heartier fare: a tuna burger comes to mind. Oskar Kostecki
Clos de la Bonnette is a relatively new estate - their first vintage was 2009 - but they have great terroir in Condrieu (and a small parcel in Cote-Rotie) and are one of the few truly organic domaines in the AOC. The 2016 "Legende Bonnetta" is a superb Condrieu showing a pale gold/bronze color and subtle aromas of apricot, almond, peach, iris and stone, really quite lovely. The palate has a saline, mineral introduction, then elegant stone fruits, white flowers, citrus, almond and stone - quite rich but with firm acidity and a very mineral finishwith citrus and white fruits. This is a beautiful Condrieu that is all about the terroir rather than the winemaking or elevage. "It's the only Condrieu I can drink" says Eric Texier. Lovely now, better with 3 to 5 years of aging. David Lillie
Clos de la Bonnette is one of the few organic estates in Condrieu and Cote Rôtie. This lovely Syrah is from old vines on granite with clay soils in Tartaras, above Ampuis. A real wine of terroir, the 2016 VV shows very earthy aromas of black raspberry with violet and roast meat with cool mint and stone. The palate also shows a very earthy and mineral character with a lovely mix of black and blueberry fruit with hints of citrus. This junior Cote-Rôtie will be perfect with grilled lamb and pork and is light enough to pair well with roast chicken and vegetarian dishes.
This is a special red from Clos des Boutes, made from 100% Carignan. Medium bodied, with bright crushed berry fruit, and a touch of herbs/spice characteristic of Carignan. Served slighlty chilled, this is a lip-smacking and very fun wine to drink! Eben Lillie
From Drink Rhône "...dark red colour. Has a spiced, ripely fruited nose, blackberry and blueberry together, pockets of mystery, scope, oiliness. The spice is provided by the Mourvèdre. The palate is unctuous, beau, holds very good inside mass, well packed and thorough. There are flecks of flowers, rose hip, sweet touches; it’s rich with spice and sustained length. There is good sève (sap) in this. It’s very long. “What pleases me is the profound nature – it is long and deep,” Vincent Avril. Drink until 2050
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. Although we love this beautifully old-fashioned, organic wine in every vintage, Dany and Carole Chastan have made perhaps their best wine ever in 2015! The wine shows deep aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, prune, garrigue, musk and citrus, quite focused and elegant. The palate is pure, supple and balanced, even at 15% alcohol, with dense blackberry, tart cherry, red currant, spice, earth and minerals, with tart red fruits, minerals and citrus in the very long finish. This is a superb Gigondas that can be enjoyed immensely now with a steak, pork or lamb chops, Morrocan tagines and full-flavored cheeses. Cellar 10 to 15 years for a mature experience. This is a superb wine and a great value - thanks to Carole and Dany for their great farming and traditional winemaking!
2015 is a great vintage for Dany and Carole Chastan at the Clos du Joncuas, and their 2015 Esprit de Grenache is simply outstanding. Since 1900 the estate has been farmed organically and the winemaking here is completely traditional with whole-cluster fermentations and aging in old foudres. Tasted at the estate in January of 2017, the wine showed dense elegant black fruit aromas with licorice and earth. The palate is pure and long with deep blackberry flavors with olive, earth, citrus and bitter chocolate - just fantastic! As with all the 2015s here, the wine is delicious in its youthful fruit and intensity, but ten to fifteen years of aging will reveal a truly great southern Rhone Grenache. Very highly recommended! DL
70% Grenache, with Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre, always farmed organically, hand harvested, whole-cluster wild yeast fermentation, aged in cement vat, un-fined, unfiltered. The 2015 Seguret shows a very dark red/black color, with aromas of ripe cherry and strawberry liqueur, prune, earth, stone and provençal spices. The palate is quite dense and supple with black berry, prune and earth with red currant and floral notes backed with firm citrusy acids, very saline and long in the finish. This is a big, solid wine that has opened up nicely over the past year, becoming softer, velvety and complex - just delicious! It will accompany steaks, chops and burgers, a daube niçoise, tagines and full flavored cheeses. It's a fabulous value for drinking over the next five years. David Lillie
50% Clairette, 25% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, always organically farmed, wild yeast fermentation, aged in enamel vat. Subtle aromas of dried pear, lime-flower and stone. Ripe pear, peach, stone, herbal and citrus flavors on the palate. This is a bit brighter and more balanced than the 2015 - really a delicious "food" wine that will pair with a wide variety of full-flavored fish and shellfish dishes, white meats, Asian cuisines and goat cheeses.
From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. Dany and Carole Chastan have made another superb Vacqueyras in 2016, a bit brighter than the opulent 2015 version, showing dark black/red color and bright aromas of blackberry, black olive and licorice with plum skin, garrigue, violet and bitter chocolate. This young wine is showing deep black fruits with firm acidity and terrific length with chalky mineral notes, earth, citrus and olive. This will be fantastic with grilled foods this summer and will improve over the next few years - drink happily until 2030. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
This beautiful Cotes du Rhone from Pablo Hocht at Creve Coeur is made from 60 to 70 year-old vines of Grenache, with an interesting mix of semi-carbonic and traditional fermentations with whole-cluster and de-stemmed grapes. The wine shows aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry liqueur with garrigue and meaty notes. The palate is deep and ripe with lush cherry and berry fruits, earth and spice - supple and round with good length of sappy black fruits and firm acidity. This is a perfect match for grilled foods this summer served cool - it's a lovely wine and a great value! David Lillie
(From 60 to 70 year-old vines in "Le Planis," 80% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre) The 2016 Creve Coeur Sablet has all the elements we love in sothern Rhone wines: organic/biodynamic farming, old school fermentation in foudre and concrete, stem inclusion. Dark-toned, nearly heady aromatically, with black and blue fruits, lavender, blackberry, cherry pit on the nose. Dense purple robe. Plum, cassis, blackberry, black pepper and garrique on the palate. Real sense of the structural elements from the stems and limestone soils. Medium tannins and good poise for a decidedly southern wine. Long finish. Good energy for the concentration with a fine core of minerality within. Fabulous with pan-roasted lambchops and sheep's milk cheese. Delicious now, but should gain in complexity with time in the bottle. John McIlwain
Pablo Hocht of Domaine de Creve Coeur has 3 hectares of 60+ year-old vines in Seguret on sandy limestone marl soils, 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre. As with his lovely Sablet, the Seguret is certified biodynamic, fermented slowly with wild yeasts with the stems included. Aging is partly in one to five year-old barriques, partly in vat. In other words, great farming and old-fashioned winemaking, similar to that of the Gonons in Saint-Joseph. The 2016 Seguret shows a deep red/black color and aromas of ripe blackberry, black cherry and red currant, with earth, garrigue and cocoa - dark and rich but with good freshness. The palate is dense and round with a supple, grainy texture with ripe blackberry and black plum, showing the high percentage of Mourvedre, with hints of chocolate, citrus and provencal herbs. The finish is long with cool acidity and earthy black fruits. Serve this beautiful Seguret a bit cool after a decant of a few hours or cellar five to ten years. Great with stews and tagines, grilled meats and game. David Lillie
The Dard & Ribo Crozes Blanc is 50-67% Roussanne (1986), 33-50% Marsanne (1986) from Les Bâties at Larnage.
"Les Mesanges" is a cuvée of Saint-Joseph made from organic grapes grown on the best terroir at Domaine des Amphores in Chavanay, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels. The 2015 shows a deep black/red color that coats the glass with aromas of black raspberry liqueur, quite ripe, with violet, spice, black olive and bitter chocolate. The palate is lush and supple with black fruit liqueur, menthol, spice, earth and mineral flavors, quite intense but very bright, lifted by firm acidity and quite balanced at 12.5% alcohol. This is a pure and delicious Syrah, showing the great organic and biodynamic farming of Philippe and Veronique Grenier. Please decant or open well in advance if drinking now, best probably 2020 - 2025. David Lillie
The Detour Blanc is a a beautiful blend of Roussanne, Clairette, and Marsanne from the Collines Rhodaniennes. The nose is fresh and lively with notes of grapefruit, tangerine, nectarine, white peach, honeysuckle and acacia. The palate is soft, round, and plush, with a hint of an herbal character, maybe sage, to compliment the aromatic fruit and floral elements of the wine. A perfect pairing for picnic sandwiches, summer salads, and carefree evenings on the patio. Oskar Kostecki
From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting, in the early 90's, and now with biodynamic methods as well. The 2016 "Les Iris" Syrah shows lovely bright aromas of blackberry and raspberry with citrus and earth. The palate shows round, chalky blackberry and plum fruit. The finish is fairly soft and round making this a very versatile wine to serve with chicken, pork and mild cheeses or do sip by itself, slightly chilled.
Since its inception in 1992, Philippe and Véronique Grenier have practiced organic farming on their tiny estate in Chavanay, in the AOC Saint-Joseph just south of Condrieu. Their 2016 "Altitude 300" is a beautiful white Saint-Joseph made from 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne.The wne shows subtle, fresh aromas of pear, almond, hay, bitter lemon, stone and lime-flower. The palate is refreshing and bright with creamy citrus, pear, thyme, flint and stone, with nice density and length and firm acidity. Drink now with fish in sauce, chicken and white meats and cow cheeses. A lovely wine and a great value! David Lillie
(From young vines, planted in the 90's, always organic, and from parcels of old vines, converted to organic, in Chavanay, below Condrieu) Philippe and Veronique Grenier have always farmed organically and now they have added biodynamic methods as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. 2016 is the best vintage yet for the domain's "regular" cuvée, now called "les Sept Lieux." The wine shows subtle aromas of blackberry, black plum, blueberry, violet, mint and spice with meat, earth and mineral notes. The palate is dense and well balanced, not a fruit bomb, but with a core black fruits, earth and citrus with a long cool finish of earthy black fruit and firm acidity. While it's delicious now, it should open up nicely over the next few years and drink well until 2025 - 2030. This is a great value in Saint-Joseph from the northern zone and is highly recommended! David Lillie
We're not sure about the spelling, but Véronique and Philippe Grenier's "Sphé-érique" is a lovely "natural" Saint-Joseph, fermented and aged in a round concrete vat, and bottled with zero added sulfur. The wine shows lovely aromas of cool blackberry and blueberry fruit with violet, mint and citrus aromas, really quite complex and pretty. The palate is balanced and earthy with bright black fruits and firm acidity with stone and berry flavors in the refreshing finish. Aromatically very complex, the palate may need a few years to open up. Serve this light and lovely Saint-Joseph with lamb, pork, guinea hen and of course with caillettes ardechoises. (Like most no-sulfur wines, it is best to consume on the day opened.)
(100% Syrah from 5 plots in Brunieux, Saint-Desirat, 80% de-stemmed, aged in 2 to 6 year-old barrels, minimal SO2 after malo, none at bottling.) Saddle leather, iron, blueberry, brambles, pepper on the nose. Medium-bodied and nervy, with fine ripe tannins and bright acidity. Great transparency and detail. Vivid and immediate. There’s a beautiful marriage of pure fruit and savory minerality underlain with poised structure. Lovely Saint-Joseph! Amanda Bowman and John McIlwain
This beautiful Saint-Joseph is produced by Domaine Monier Perreol from the "Chatelet" vineyard belonging to Philippe Perreol in the hill above Saint-Desirat. The vines are on decomposed granite with an interesting topsoil of "aerien" limestone - a windblown limestone sand. The ruins of a Roman temple on the site add mystic powers. The vines are about 40 years old, the grapes are 80% de-stemmed and undergo a three to four week vinification, with aging in new to 2 year-old barrels. Dark robe. Blackberry, brambles, cassis, white pepper, violets, and bosky plum skin aromas on the nose. Blackberry, black tapenade, cool herbal flavors on the midweight palate give way to a fine bead of articulated graphite-like minerality on the suavely stony finish. There’s a deft framing of acidity and tannins lending a sense of gravitas to the pure, ripe fruit and savory flavors. This shows great drive and sophistication on the finish. Great balance bodes well for aging. This is a stellar St. Joseph! John McIlwain
This beautiful Saint-Joseph is produced by Domaine Monier Perreol from the "Chatelet" vineyard belonging to Philippe Perreol in the hill above Saint-Desirat. The vines are on decomposed granite with an interesting topsoil of "aerien" limestone - a windblown limestone sand. The ruins of a Roman temple on the site add mystic powers. The vines are about 40 years old, the grapes are 80% de-stemmed and undergo a three to four week vinification, with aging in new to 2 year-old barrels.
Dark robe. Blackberry, brambles, cassis, white pepper, violets, and bosky plum skin aromas on the nose. Blackberry, black tapenade, cool herbal flavors on the midweight palate give way to a fine bead of articulated graphite-like minerality on the suavely stony finish. There’s a deft framing of acidity and tannins lending a sense of gravitas to the pure, ripe fruit and savory flavors. This shows great drive and sophistication on the finish. Great balance bodes well for aging. This is a stellar St. Joseph! John McIlwain
Jean Delorbe makes beautiful natural wines in and around Saint-Joseph - The 2015 Chemin Faisant is from massale selection vines planted in 1975 by Jean's father, on decomposed granite soils in the northern sector of Saint-Joseph, above Saint-Desirat. Biodynamic farming, wild yeast fermentations, aging in old barrels, zero added sulfur. The wine shows ripe pure fruit liqueur aromas, blackberry and black raspberry, with hints of earth, stone and licorice. The palate is deep and supple with black fruits that are cool and lifted by bright acidity with a backing of earthy mineral flavors that carry through on the finish. Northern Rhone syrah can be quite beautiful when vinified without sulfur dioxide and this a lovely example. Lovers of Gonon Saint-Joseph will appreciate the similar style of this natural wine - drink over the next ten years. Highly recommended. David Lillie
The delicious 2017 Ferme Sept Lunes Syrah is from high elevation vines, just above the Saint-Joseph appellation on granite soils, with only 10 mg/L of SO2 added befroe bottling. We love the review in "DrinkRhone" so we quote it here: "shiny dark red-purple colour. The bouquet has crunchy airs, smoky black fruits, shiny blackberry fruit. The palate holds fine, tenacious black fruits with good breeze, grip. There are violet notes also, tender pockets. This is hand made, true wine. Small tannins cluster on the close, the length. Good VALUE!" We heartily agree - this is a lovely natural wine to serve cool and enjoy over the next few years.
Thomas Julien has been experimenting with different cuvees of white wines over the past few years and the 2015 Austral is a great success! It's basically a press wine of Roussanne and Clairette with more skin contact than his regular white, showing a bright, light gold color and vivid aromas of lemon confit, spiced pear, apricot, honeysuckle and almond. The palate is beautifully round and ripe but with firm citrusy acids underlying the ripe pear, hay, stone, lemon and almond flavors that linger on the long finish. This is a gorgeous Southern Rhone white that desrves your attention - serve with fish stew, Asian foods, goat cheeses and pâtés or just sip happily by itself. Highly recommended. David Lillie
Guy and Thomas Jullien make a small quantity of fascinating and delicious white Cotes du Rhône on their organic estate in Suzette, on the slopes of the Dentelles near Beaumes-de-Venise. "Carlina" is made from 45% Clairette, 45% Roussanne and 10% Grenache Blanc grown at high altitude on clay/limestone soils, vinified with some skin contact and with minimal SO2. Bright pale gold color, with aromas of spiced pear, anis, lemon peel and almond. The palate is round and ripe but nicely balanced, really showing the Roussanne with lemon confit, pear, hay and herbal flavors, with stone and mineral notes. This is quite delicious and complex, perfect with fish in sauce, Asian foods, chicken and pork dishes and full-flavored cheeses. David Lillie
Thomas Finot, who is resurrecting forgotten vineyards and varieties in the Isère, is also making brilliant wines from his tiny family vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage. He has 1.8 hectare of old Syrah vines in Larnage on a hillside with granite and limestone subsoils under interesting soils of white clay (kaolin). It's a great terroir, and the Cuvée Claude, homage to Thomas' uncle, is a superb Crozes. The 2015 shows a bright red/black color with lovely, pure aromas of ripe black cherry and blueberry liqueur, quite vivid, with earth, citrus, nutmeg and cocao. The palate is elegant and perfectly balanced with sappy black cherry and blackberry fruit with citrus peel, saline minerals and a touch of oak, finishing with juicy acidity. This unique Crozes-Hermitage should be decanted if drinking now, best to wait a few years then drink until 2030. David Lillie
Mas de Boislauzon is a lesser-known, over-achieving estate located in the northern sector of Châteauneuf, with parcels in the lieu-dits of Cabrières, Boislauzon, Lagardiole, Palestor and Pignan. The soil types are sandy at Pignan, galets roulés at Boislauzon, with more clay at la Gardiole and Palestor. Organic farming since 2009. Approximately 70% Grenache and 30% Mourvedre. The grapes are de-stemmed and aging is in concrete vats and old barrels. The 2015 is a full-throttle, dark colored wine with deep blackberry liqueur, dark plum, earth and roast meat aromas. The palate is very dense and supple with ripe sweet blackberry and red currant fruit, well structured and lifted by cool acidity and firm tannins. Enjoy in its rather intense youth with a steak or grilled lamb or hold for ten to fifteen years. Terrific wine and a great value! David Lillie
From 50-65% Grenache, 15-20% Syrah, 0-10% Carignan, 5-15% Mourvèdre from stony clay-limestone soils on Bois Lauzon & Coudoulet at Courthézon. The vines are on average 45 years-old. The wine ages in concrete tank and old barrels, and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. This is an outstanding Côtes-du-Rhône Villages that shows very dark red/black color with lovely aromas of lush blackberry and red currant with dark chocolate, citrus and spice. The palate is ripe and dense with round, lush berry fruits, earth and mineral flavors backed with firm citrusy acids.
This rosé from Vacqueyras is a prime candidate for any summer grill and barbecue. Primarily Grenache (with 30% Cinsault), farmed without chemical products in the vineyard, hand harvested, and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Winemakers Martine and Christian Vache vinify half of the wine for their rosé in the saignée (bleeding) method, taking juice from red grapes after about 10 hours of maceration and fermenting this separately. The other half is a direct press of partially de-stemmed grapes. Once fermented, the two wines are blended and aged on the lees for 6 months before bottling. The result is a wine of a beautiful pale hue that provides kick and crispness, brambly fresh berry fruit, and a touch of spice. Super dry, and satisfyingly refreshing, it's perfect with salads and snacks, and has enough body to stand up to richer, tangier flavors and grilled meats. E.L.
Domaine Pélaquié makes this lovely Tavel rosé from young vines of Cinsault and Grenache. The wine shows a deep pink color with lush aromas of tart cherry, raspberry and red currant with violet, citrus peel and spice. The palate is deep and ripe but nicely balanced with bright acidity, showing black cherry, ripe raspberry, brown spice, citrus and mineral flavors, with a nice supple finish. This will accomany grilled tuna, chicken and burgers this summer as well as salads and cheeses.
For my money one of the great producers of white wines in the Rhône. Andre Perret makes a trio of beautiful Condrieus: Chery (tense, deeply mineral, gras, ageable), Clos Chanson (ample, exotic, floral, supple), and Condrieu AC (generous, ripe, aromatic, stony and fresh). All are lovely and expressive, and the ‘basic’ bottling offers a beautiful combination of floral and stone fruit aromas, with fine sap on the palate (midweight, ripe, and salty!) and a veritable cornucopia of stone and orchard fruit flavors on a long clinging mineral finish. This has great energy, freshness, detail, and none of the flab associated with many Viogniers. There’s light here, if not heat. A fantastic aperitif and a fine pairing with a salad of favas, spring onions, and fresh pecorino. Lovely stuff! John McIlwain
From a one-half hectare parcel of 60 year-old vines in "Les Rivoires" on the lower slope in Tournon, a cool, late-ripening terroir with clay, sand and stones over firm granite. Aged 12 months, 30% foudre, 70% 2 to 5 year-old barrels. Although normally overshadowed by the Rousset's superb Crozes "les Picaudieres," the 2015 Saint-Joseph is a great wine of terroir and one of the better Saint-Josephs we've tasted from this vintage. The wine shows a dark black/red color with deep aromas of blackberry and blueberry liqueur with plum, earth and smoke - quite ripe but with nice brightness as well. The palate is quite dense and supple with ripe black fruits and hints of blueberry, dark chocolate, black olive and roast meats which continue in the long finish with pronounced mineral flavors and firm acidity. The Rousset Saint-Joseph is normally somewhat austere and tightly structured when young, but the 2015 will be quite delicious as a young wine if decanted for a few hours. Despite the more forward aspect, there is plenty of structure here for aging, best perhaps 2020 to 2030. David Lillie
From hillside vineyards in Erome, Gervans and Crozes, mostly granite with some limestone/clay, average age 45 years, aged 30% in foudre, 70% in one to 7 year-old burgundy barrels. This is no "ordinary" Crozes-Hermitage, but a real wine of terroir from great vineyard sites, all on hillsides. 2015 is an excellent vintage in the northern Rhone with great ripeness balanced by some rain before harvest. The Rousset 2015 Crozes-Hermitage shows a deep black/purple color with deep aromas of blackberry and blueberry liqueur with hints of earth, bitter chocolate and musk. The palate is dense but brightened by firm acidity with black fruits, licorice, earth and mineral flavors. Black olive and red currant emerge with aeration, really lovely. This is a delicious Syrah from great terroir that will accompany grilled foods, stews, tagines and full-flavored cheeses over the next 5 to 8 years. David Lillie
From 60 to 90 year-old Marsanne vines in the hillside vineyards of "les Vedias" and "Tout" in Erome, decomposed granite with clay and gravel - great terroir producing this serious but overlooked wine from the Rousset family. The 2016 is an intense and delicious Marsanne showing elegant aromas of lemon, stone, dried pear, almond, apricot and hay - really lovely. The palate is dense, mineral and balanced by firm acidity with citrus, pear, grilled almond, anise and herbal flavors, with a long stone and citrus finish. Delicious in its youth, this will benefit from a few years in the cellar and should be quite interesting in 2025. Serve with white meats, full-flavored fish dishes or provençal fish soup and a wide variety of cheeses. David Lillie
Certainly one of the best sites in Crozes-Hermitage, "les Picaudières" is a steep, south-facing granite hill with high-density old vines, formerly owned by the legendary Raymond Roure. 2016 is a great vintage for "Les Picaudières," showing fabulous elegance and purity of fruit. The aromas are bright and pretty, very floral with black raspberry and red currant liqueur with hints of blood orange, musk and smoked meats. The palate is dense and cool with silky berry fruits, Asian spice and firm acidity with a strong core of graphite and saline mineral flavors. This is a beautiful Syrah of terroir that should be decanted well in advance if drinking now, best perhaps 2022 - 2030. We thank Stéphane and Isabelle for this lovely wine at a very reasonable price! David Lillie
From 70-year-old Syrah vines located on the west bank of the Rhône on granite soils that had been farmed exclusively by a protestant religious order known as D’Arbistes. There has never been a chemical introduced into this vineyard. The wine shows conplex, earthy aromas of blackberry, rose, black pepper and graphite with animal and smoky notes. The palate is dense and sapid with blackberry, prune, citrus and earth with a long finish with black fruit and mineral flavors. This is a bold and earthy Syrah (?) reflecting the granite terroirs and M. Texier's superb farming and natural vinifications. "The 30 months of aging in 2500 litre foudres have rendered (this) cuvée surprisingly approachable for such a classic vintage. The aging potential is exceptional." - Eric Texier. Decant or open the nightr before if drinking now, best perhaps 2022 - 2030+. DL
Thomas Julien of La Ferme Saint-Martin makes this light and lovely rosé from organic Grenache and Cinsault grown near the Mount Ventoux. The wine shows pretty aromas of spiced strawberry, citrus peel and melon with a refreshing palate of ripe berry fruits with saline minerals. The very low SO2 level enhances the purity and freshness of the wine. Great served well-chilled by itself or with salads, fish, white meats and burgers this summer - and it's a great value at $11.99! David Lillie
Nose is a bit reserved on opening. Blackberry, dusty stone, pastilles, black olive, Italian plum aromas appear with some air. Palate has good density (and energy for the warmth of the vintage). Black olive, black raspberry, iron and pepper on the palate, with ripe tannins, succulent acidity, beneath the rich dry extract. Lovely stuff and a fine Côte-Rôtie, indeed! John McIlwain