Vines have covered the steep hillsides of the Rhône river for over 2000 years. Sprouting from vertiginous granite slopes, gnarled syrah vines bake in the summer sun and produce intense, concentrated juice that becomes deep and unmistakable red wine.
Much like white Burgundy’s signature “depth without heaviness,” the reds of the Northern Rhône are at once intense and lively. Grown at its northern ripening limit, Syrah produces intense meaty flavors with unusual lift and balance.
Think a soaring violin solo in the midst of a brooding Tchaikovsky concerto.
Denis Basset is a young winemaker based in Crozes-Hermitage, recently listed by Decanter and the Guide Hachette in describing a dynamic new generation of Crozes-Hermitage winemakers. His plot in Saint-Joseph covers only an acre, and bears the name Abimes de l’Enfer (the “Abyss of Hell”) for its plunging slope.
Basset’s 2016 Saint-Joseph is intense and beautiful. The nose shows spices, violets and intense black pepper; the mouth shows blackberry jam with notes of roasted meat and licorice. This intense wine clocks in at only 13% alcohol, so while it’s mouthfilling and chewy, there’s not a bit of heaviness.
The 2016 vintage produce particularly elegant wines full of freshness and delicate complexity — they may drink well ahead of their bold 2015 brothers. Pair this with lamb burgers and let the wine breathe a while.
Saint Clair St-Joseph 2016
bottle price: $32
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