For many years at the start of every tasting, Rhône winemaker Denis Basset would give us small taste of his only white. “Just to set the palate,” he’d explain, before continuing on to his rich, syrah-based reds. The white was always lovely — floral and fresh, beautifully expressive, and a perfect way to start a tasting.
Cornas is a tiny appellation. It covers 145 hectares (compared with Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s 3,000+), and is home to fewer than 50 vignerons. The name comes from the Celtic word for “burnt earth,” and it’s an appropriate moniker: Cornas is pure Syrah like the rest of the Northern Rhône, but the feel is of something farther to the South.
The 2017 vintage was an unusual one in the Southern Rhône. Growers encountered coulure in the Grenache vines, as a cold snap after flowering dramatically restricted the development of fruit. Low Grenache yields meant low Grenache percentages in the wines, leaving the stage open for other grapes to shine.
The Domaine Dumien-Serrette is relatively new to the Ansonia portfolio, but hardly new to their hometown of Cornas -- records show Dumiens living there in 1515. Our allocation from this grower last year was so small that it sold out entirely in Futures, and we weren’t able to offer any of their delicious 2016 Cornas from inventory.
With football in season and a chill in the evening air, autumn is just around the corner. We haven’t abandoned the rosé or Chablis just yet, but we’re making preparations for the new season.
Organic viticulture is the future of winemaking -- the majority of our winemakers are organic or in conversion. But at some domaines, it’s also the past. The Domaine du Joncuas in Gigondas turns 100 years old next year, and they’ve practiced organic winemaking, as they put it, “depuis toujours” (“since forever”).
The wines of Côte Rôtie have been celebrated for thousands of years. Made from pure Syrah at its northernmost growing limit, Côte Rôtie represents Syrah at its most refined. Our source for Côte Rôtie is the Domaine Bonnefond.
We’d bet that many readers have garages bigger than the Domaine Malmont’s winemaking space. We work with some small-production winemakers, but even by our standards Malmont’s winery is tiny. The space attached to winemaker Nicolas Haeni’s house in Séguret looks more like a large tool shed than a winemaking operation.
Rosé may be in vogue of late, but its origins are actually quite old. The people of Provence have made rosé since 6th Century BC, when Phonecean ships brought vines across the Mediterranean. Today Provence remains one of the world’s centers of rosé production.
Last week winemaker Eric Chauvin took us out into his vines for our tasting. He believes fervently in organic winemaking, and wanted us to taste his wine en plein air, amid the rich earth from which they spring.
We spent yesterday tasting in the Northern Rhône Valley. From 9am through 5:30pm, we tasted dozens of meaty, intense, sinewy Syrahs, from appellations like Cornas, St-Joseph, Côte Rôtie, and Crozes Hermitage. They were chewy, delicious, and exhausting. After a day of teeth-staining reds, our final appointment finished with a golden, shimmering white wine: Condrieu from […]
We’re making our way up the Rhône River this week -- tonight we’re in Tain l’Hermitage, the southern gateway to the Northern Rhône Valley. (Follow our video blog: FB, IG, YT.) Today we visited one of the original members of the Ansonia portfolio, the Domaine les Goubert in Gigondas.
Greetings from the continent! We landed in Paris this morning and caught the TGV south to Avignon. We’re here for the next few weeks, tasting in the Southern Rhône, Northern Rhône, and Burgundy -- follow our tasting trip video blog (starting tomorrow) on Facebook, Instagram, and our blog.
Our source in Côte Rôtie is the Domaine Bonnefond. Robert Parker calls Bonnefond’s wines “among the finest in the appellation,” and Vinous’s Josh Raynolds recently called them “as graceful a group of wines that I’ve ever sampled.” Last week we wrote about their exceptional 2015 Côte Rôtie “Rochains,” which Vinous called “superb” and awarded 95 […]
The 2015 vintage produced exceptional wines in nearly every corner of France. We’ve written recently about successes in Burgundy and Bordeaux, but winemakers in the Rhône were just as fortunate. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson proclaimed the 2015 Northern Rhône Syrahs “the best in 55 years.”