Northern Rhone roundup

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Zachary Ross
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Northern Rhone roundup

#1 Post by Zachary Ross »

Some recent wines, many of them great.

  • 2012 Domaine Bernard Gripa St. Joseph Cuvée Le Berceau - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph (3/14/2021)
    Really nice and absolutely ready to go. This is all cool, polished granite, with dark berries, beef, and stone. Ripe and clean, this isn't the wildest or most animale Syrah but it is stunningly pure and super drinkable. Texturally it's all there as the tannins have completely smoothed out - this just glides across the palate. With air a bit of wildness starts to show - just enough.
  • 2016 Julien Pilon Cornas L'elégance du Caillou - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (3/7/2021)
    I got excited when I located a bit of this wine after reading up on Pilon on JLL's website. The wine comes from old-vine Cornas (~1950s) rented from Elie Bancel and, evidently, it is raised in 1-year-old and 2-3-year-old oak casks. I bought a few for science! The first bottle was a bit reductive at first, then fresh but without much depth; not much better than a Cotes-du-Rhone. This bottle was larger, deeper, more full of material, but with a strong oak imprint, caramel on the finish. I poured some of this into small bottles and am tasting it now, and while the wine has come around some and is showing more authentically Cornas, there still is the strong oak signature seen on the finish and in the overall texture. I am surprised, as JLL has very good things to say about Pilon and I expected a certain terroir transparency, especially with the 2016 vintage. Although now I am rereading JLL and see that Pilon worked with Cuilleron and then Gaillard and perhaps that is all that needs to be said.
  • 1999 Domaine Barge Côte-Rôtie Cuvée du Plessy - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (3/7/2021)
    Blood and guts - this is just great aged Cote-Rotie. It has veered off from the more suave, fresh, Burgundy-like showing from when I last had this wine a few years ago to a much wilder, more smoky and savory, animale presentation. It's kind of a loud wine - lots of palate-staining flavor. The small core of plump cooked blueberry fruit is seamlessly integrated with the savory smoke, leather, camphor, ash, and soy sauce notes that resound on the long, silky finish. No reason to wait any longer here.
  • 2006 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (3/2/2021)
    Just awesome. A little dull upon pop-n-pour, this soon opened up with a huge smokey and gamey nose with piercing dark raspberry fruit and classic Syrah floral notes powering through. Dark and firm, this is just starting its rise into maturity. Savory, wild, perfect. So well integrated and composed, just a pleasure to drink. This was still going strong on Day 2 as well.
  • 2010 Guillaume Gilles Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (1/31/2021)
    Absolute beast. Very dark with purple tones, as you approach its event horizon there is deep blackberry fruit, raw bitter bark, explosive violet flowers, dusty granite. Super powerful and raw on the palate, the fruit is stunning but this quickly clams up and goes balls to the wall feral - game, olives, briar, crushed rocks, all umami all the time. Pretty fierce tannins underneath rasp out the finish. This is old-school Cornas, burly and uncompromising. It needs at least 10 years, probably more, to show its best. I dig it.
  • 1988 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (1/31/2021)
    Flippin' epic showing; blind via small bottles from Seth. The nose at first is musty cellar, moss, and antique cabinetry (this had me leaning Burgundy) but it rounds out with air to show beautiful red fruit tinged with leather, soy, meat locker, and some bretty barn door. Beautiful to drink and rivetingly fresh, it's all red fruit and umami spectrum flavors, very long and utterly captivating. The funky brett and the resolved core of red fruit reminded me of Levet, which was my guess. This gained vigor and intensity over the course of a couple of hours and showed no signs of stopping. A pour from a second small bottle showed smokier and brinier than the first, revealing more archetypal Syrah notes. What a great wine!
  • 2017 Guillaume Gilles Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (1/1/2021)
    Hot dag this is great. I am so, so pleased that this bottle is showing so well in contrast to the first bottle I opened back in April. The big purple fruit witnessed then is here in spades, but it's very well defined and super pure, just rivetingly clear and precise. There's all sorts of classic Cornas guttiness, rocks, savory meats, etc. wrapped up in here. With air a tart edge emerges as well as a medicinal note of bitter bark - classic Gilles. Very long, with a grippy and gamy cling that doesn't let go. I'm gaga, agog, googling for more. This is going to be incredible in 10-15 years.
  • 2012 Domaine du Coulet (Matthieu Barret) Cornas Billes Noires - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (12/16/2020)
    Classic Coulet - thrilling at the get-go with a wildly intoxicating nose of funky truffle, earth, burnished dark red fruit and a pungent sharp edge. It follows on the palate, which is medium-weight and has a strong sense of brewed, rather than fresh, fruit and a warm affect - this is sensual, enveloping wine, hedonistic even, but it's also got a juiciness and lift. It's really beguiling and very distinctive and I imagine I'd nail the producer in a blind tasting. But this is Natty Wine™ and, with air, things veer over to the wild and, unfortunately, less pleasurable side - still good, at least for a while, but nowhere near as seductive. Before long, the veil lifts and what's left is a sharp, very bright red-fruited wine, with some natural-wine funk that creeps in steadily and without mercy, eventually taking over completely. From the onset there's a slight sense of the gour-de-souris, and that just ramps up and dominates as the wine rests. Still, fun stuff, worth the time and tariff.
  • 2016 Christophe Billon Côte-Rôtie Vieilles Vignes - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (11/30/2020)
    Tasted over two days. This is a very dark and impressive Cote-Rotie, dense and powerful and therefore unlike other Northern Rhone wines I have tasted from the 2016 vintage. The nose is very dark berries tinged with floral notes and smoky game; very refined and clear nose. On the palate there is a lot of extract here, dense but fresh with excellent acids - juicy. The fruit is very ripe but it's beautifully relieved by the acidity. Power and finesse. On the first day, very fine tannins close out the finish with a cottony texture; these eased significantly toward silkiness on day 2, which showed the wine more open and no worse for wear given the day of air. I'm burying my other bottle for at least ten years.
  • 2018 Clusel-Roch Côte-Rôtie Champon - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (10/21/2020)
    Seth gave this wine more thought and attention than I did. I followed this for two days, and then came back for a third yesterday. The wine is large-scaled, ripe, marked by oak, blocky and without much finesse. This surprised me as I expected a much more suave and finessed wine.

    Is it the vintage? This is only the second Northern Rhone wine I have tasted from 2018; the other is the Domaine de Fauterie Saint-Joseph Les Combaud, which itself is large-scaled, blocky, and a bit dull, lacking freshness.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#2 Post by MikeL238 »

Damn that Levet sounds delish!!
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#3 Post by Josh Grossman »

Nice write up. Many of my favorites listed.

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#4 Post by Arv R »

This is like a list of NoRho that will never be found on the shelf at a typical LWS....
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#5 Post by Jayson Cohen »

That old school Guigal has been kicking ass for over 20 years now. (It must be one of the first Northern Rhone wines I ever tried.) Wow.

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#6 Post by Zachary Ross »

Jayson Cohen wrote: March 15th, 2021, 3:28 pm That old school Guigal has been kicking ass for over 20 years now. (It must be one of the first Northern Rhone wines I ever tried.) Wow.
Seth's got another six bottles or so of this!
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#7 Post by Zachary Ross »

MikeL238 wrote: March 15th, 2021, 1:45 pm Damn that Levet sounds delish!!

Totally in the zone. These wines are just awesome when ready, and it's just the beginning for the '06.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#8 Post by Max S. »

Is Brune et Blonde the best value for Cote Rotie?
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#9 Post by Craig G »

Max S. wrote: March 15th, 2021, 4:45 pm Is Brune et Blonde the best value for Cote Rotie?
It certainly is for Guigal! Some might say it’s their best Cote Rotie too.

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#10 Post by Jayson Cohen »

Craig G wrote: March 15th, 2021, 6:42 pm
Max S. wrote: March 15th, 2021, 4:45 pm Is Brune et Blonde the best value for Cote Rotie?
It certainly is for Guigal! Some might say it’s their best Cote Rotie too.

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I’m not sure what B&B is anymore. It was a wine made from purchased grapes, and the last vintage where I understand they still had most of their best historical contracts was 1991. The explosion in grower bottling in CR happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It’s a different world now.

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#11 Post by Greg K »

Zach, how much air did you give the Levet?
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#12 Post by Michael Acheson »

Zachary Ross wrote: March 15th, 2021, 1:41 pm Some recent wines, many of them great.

  • 2012 Domaine Bernard Gripa St. Joseph Cuvée Le Berceau - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph (3/14/2021)
    Really nice and absolutely ready to go. This is all cool, polished granite, with dark berries, beef, and stone. Ripe and clean, this isn't the wildest or most animale Syrah but it is stunningly pure and super drinkable. Texturally it's all there as the tannins have completely smoothed out - this just glides across the palate. With air a bit of wildness starts to show - just enough.
  • 2016 Julien Pilon Cornas L'elégance du Caillou - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (3/7/2021)
    I got excited when I located a bit of this wine after reading up on Pilon on JLL's website. The wine comes from old-vine Cornas (~1950s) rented from Elie Bancel and, evidently, it is raised in 1-year-old and 2-3-year-old oak casks. I bought a few for science! The first bottle was a bit reductive at first, then fresh but without much depth; not much better than a Cotes-du-Rhone. This bottle was larger, deeper, more full of material, but with a strong oak imprint, caramel on the finish. I poured some of this into small bottles and am tasting it now, and while the wine has come around some and is showing more authentically Cornas, there still is the strong oak signature seen on the finish and in the overall texture. I am surprised, as JLL has very good things to say about Pilon and I expected a certain terroir transparency, especially with the 2016 vintage. Although now I am rereading JLL and see that Pilon worked with Cuilleron and then Gaillard and perhaps that is all that needs to be said.
  • 1999 Domaine Barge Côte-Rôtie Cuvée du Plessy - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (3/7/2021)
    Blood and guts - this is just great aged Cote-Rotie. It has veered off from the more suave, fresh, Burgundy-like showing from when I last had this wine a few years ago to a much wilder, more smoky and savory, animale presentation. It's kind of a loud wine - lots of palate-staining flavor. The small core of plump cooked blueberry fruit is seamlessly integrated with the savory smoke, leather, camphor, ash, and soy sauce notes that resound on the long, silky finish. No reason to wait any longer here.
  • 2006 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (3/2/2021)
    Just awesome. A little dull upon pop-n-pour, this soon opened up with a huge smokey and gamey nose with piercing dark raspberry fruit and classic Syrah floral notes powering through. Dark and firm, this is just starting its rise into maturity. Savory, wild, perfect. So well integrated and composed, just a pleasure to drink. This was still going strong on Day 2 as well.
  • 2010 Guillaume Gilles Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (1/31/2021)
    Absolute beast. Very dark with purple tones, as you approach its event horizon there is deep blackberry fruit, raw bitter bark, explosive violet flowers, dusty granite. Super powerful and raw on the palate, the fruit is stunning but this quickly clams up and goes balls to the wall feral - game, olives, briar, crushed rocks, all umami all the time. Pretty fierce tannins underneath rasp out the finish. This is old-school Cornas, burly and uncompromising. It needs at least 10 years, probably more, to show its best. I dig it.
  • 1988 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (1/31/2021)
    Flippin' epic showing; blind via small bottles from Seth. The nose at first is musty cellar, moss, and antique cabinetry (this had me leaning Burgundy) but it rounds out with air to show beautiful red fruit tinged with leather, soy, meat locker, and some bretty barn door. Beautiful to drink and rivetingly fresh, it's all red fruit and umami spectrum flavors, very long and utterly captivating. The funky brett and the resolved core of red fruit reminded me of Levet, which was my guess. This gained vigor and intensity over the course of a couple of hours and showed no signs of stopping. A pour from a second small bottle showed smokier and brinier than the first, revealing more archetypal Syrah notes. What a great wine!
  • 2017 Guillaume Gilles Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (1/1/2021)
    Hot dag this is great. I am so, so pleased that this bottle is showing so well in contrast to the first bottle I opened back in April. The big purple fruit witnessed then is here in spades, but it's very well defined and super pure, just rivetingly clear and precise. There's all sorts of classic Cornas guttiness, rocks, savory meats, etc. wrapped up in here. With air a tart edge emerges as well as a medicinal note of bitter bark - classic Gilles. Very long, with a grippy and gamy cling that doesn't let go. I'm gaga, agog, googling for more. This is going to be incredible in 10-15 years.
  • 2012 Domaine du Coulet (Matthieu Barret) Cornas Billes Noires - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (12/16/2020)
    Classic Coulet - thrilling at the get-go with a wildly intoxicating nose of funky truffle, earth, burnished dark red fruit and a pungent sharp edge. It follows on the palate, which is medium-weight and has a strong sense of brewed, rather than fresh, fruit and a warm affect - this is sensual, enveloping wine, hedonistic even, but it's also got a juiciness and lift. It's really beguiling and very distinctive and I imagine I'd nail the producer in a blind tasting. But this is Natty Wine™ and, with air, things veer over to the wild and, unfortunately, less pleasurable side - still good, at least for a while, but nowhere near as seductive. Before long, the veil lifts and what's left is a sharp, very bright red-fruited wine, with some natural-wine funk that creeps in steadily and without mercy, eventually taking over completely. From the onset there's a slight sense of the gour-de-souris, and that just ramps up and dominates as the wine rests. Still, fun stuff, worth the time and tariff.
  • 2016 Christophe Billon Côte-Rôtie Vieilles Vignes - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (11/30/2020)
    Tasted over two days. This is a very dark and impressive Cote-Rotie, dense and powerful and therefore unlike other Northern Rhone wines I have tasted from the 2016 vintage. The nose is very dark berries tinged with floral notes and smoky game; very refined and clear nose. On the palate there is a lot of extract here, dense but fresh with excellent acids - juicy. The fruit is very ripe but it's beautifully relieved by the acidity. Power and finesse. On the first day, very fine tannins close out the finish with a cottony texture; these eased significantly toward silkiness on day 2, which showed the wine more open and no worse for wear given the day of air. I'm burying my other bottle for at least ten years.
  • 2018 Clusel-Roch Côte-Rôtie Champon - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (10/21/2020)
    Seth gave this wine more thought and attention than I did. I followed this for two days, and then came back for a third yesterday. The wine is large-scaled, ripe, marked by oak, blocky and without much finesse. This surprised me as I expected a much more suave and finessed wine.

    Is it the vintage? This is only the second Northern Rhone wine I have tasted from 2018; the other is the Domaine de Fauterie Saint-Joseph Les Combaud, which itself is large-scaled, blocky, and a bit dull, lacking freshness.

Geeez man. Were these all bottles enjoyed at home, or at some sort of event? Consider me jealous.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#13 Post by LasseK »

Awesome notes. Happy that I just bought a lot of Levet in the 2013-2016 vintages 🙂.

I had 1999 Allemand Chaillot this Friday! Crazy good Northern Rhone wine 😁
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#14 Post by Chris C a r y »

I’m glad these were tasting notes and not a class action suit solicitation. Excellent write ups!

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#15 Post by Mark C Johnson »

Mahalo for the great detailed notes. I have a bunch of those, unfortunately not the Guigal.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#16 Post by IlkkaL »

Great stuff, thanks for the notes. I have never come across that particular Clusel-Roch bottling (I thought the only CRs they make are Classique/Schist, Viaillère and Grandes Places) so can't comment there but personally I don't think I'll be buying much 2018, although that is partly due to wanting to focus on 2020 (my son's birth year). I am surprised Gripa is not discussed more here, I was pretty impressed with their wines.
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#17 Post by LasseK »

IlkkaL wrote: March 16th, 2021, 12:20 am Great stuff, thanks for the notes. I have never come across that particular Clusel-Roch bottling (I thought the only CRs they make are Classique/Schist, Viaillère and Grandes Places) so can't comment there but personally I don't think I'll be buying much 2018, although that is partly due to wanting to focus on 2020 (my son's birth year). I am surprised Gripa is not discussed more here, I was pretty impressed with their wines.
The few 2018's i have tasted have just felt big and ripe. Only 2018's i have bought for my cellar is Franck Balthazar Chaillot (I trust Balthazar in all vintages) and a few 2018 Verset Cornas. The Verset Cornas is ripe and with high alcohol, but somehow it still feels balanced and fresh (probably saved by the wholeclusters). I will probably not buy any more 18's. 2019 sounds like the same story more or less. So personally i am just backfilling until we get a colder vintage... if ever...
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#18 Post by IlkkaL »

LasseK wrote: March 16th, 2021, 1:37 am
IlkkaL wrote: March 16th, 2021, 12:20 am Great stuff, thanks for the notes. I have never come across that particular Clusel-Roch bottling (I thought the only CRs they make are Classique/Schist, Viaillère and Grandes Places) so can't comment there but personally I don't think I'll be buying much 2018, although that is partly due to wanting to focus on 2020 (my son's birth year). I am surprised Gripa is not discussed more here, I was pretty impressed with their wines.
The few 2018's i have tasted have just felt big and ripe. Only 2018's i have bought for my cellar is Franck Balthazar Chaillot (I trust Balthazar in all vintages) and a few 2018 Verset Cornas. The Verset Cornas is ripe and with high alcohol, but somehow it still feels balanced and fresh (probably saved by the wholeclusters). I will probably not buy any more 18's. 2019 sounds like the same story more or less. So personally i am just backfilling until we get a colder vintage... if ever...
Damn, doesn't sound too promising. I've yet to try 2018s but did too buy the Chaillot and Crozes from Franch. Hard times for us who enjoy freshness and moderate alcohol! Here's to hoping for cooler years...
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#19 Post by LasseK »

IlkkaL wrote: March 16th, 2021, 2:08 am
LasseK wrote: March 16th, 2021, 1:37 am
IlkkaL wrote: March 16th, 2021, 12:20 am Great stuff, thanks for the notes. I have never come across that particular Clusel-Roch bottling (I thought the only CRs they make are Classique/Schist, Viaillère and Grandes Places) so can't comment there but personally I don't think I'll be buying much 2018, although that is partly due to wanting to focus on 2020 (my son's birth year). I am surprised Gripa is not discussed more here, I was pretty impressed with their wines.
The few 2018's i have tasted have just felt big and ripe. Only 2018's i have bought for my cellar is Franck Balthazar Chaillot (I trust Balthazar in all vintages) and a few 2018 Verset Cornas. The Verset Cornas is ripe and with high alcohol, but somehow it still feels balanced and fresh (probably saved by the wholeclusters). I will probably not buy any more 18's. 2019 sounds like the same story more or less. So personally i am just backfilling until we get a colder vintage... if ever...
Damn, doesn't sound too promising. I've yet to try 2018s but did too buy the Chaillot and Crozes from Franch. Hard times for us who enjoy freshness and moderate alcohol! Here's to hoping for cooler years...
I have the 2018 Crozes from Franck too. It does not feel warm :) He is very good at handling warmer vintages it seems.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#20 Post by Faryan Amir-Ghassem¡ »

That's some mighty fine work Zach (& Seth).

Would love to do Levet/Gilles/Benetiere/Allemand blind once they all get near striking distance at rule of 15 (so maybe late 2010s in the near future).
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#21 Post by A Rubin Stein »

Great notes, Zach. Thanks for posting. Looking forward to tasting some Syrah with you soon.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#22 Post by Zachary Ross »

Greg K wrote: March 15th, 2021, 6:51 pm Zach, how much air did you give the Levet?

Not much, and then a lot - it was consistently excellent from about 15 minutes after opening through to the next day.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#23 Post by Zachary Ross »

LasseK wrote: March 16th, 2021, 1:37 am
IlkkaL wrote: March 16th, 2021, 12:20 am Great stuff, thanks for the notes. I have never come across that particular Clusel-Roch bottling (I thought the only CRs they make are Classique/Schist, Viaillère and Grandes Places) so can't comment there but personally I don't think I'll be buying much 2018, although that is partly due to wanting to focus on 2020 (my son's birth year). I am surprised Gripa is not discussed more here, I was pretty impressed with their wines.
The few 2018's i have tasted have just felt big and ripe. Only 2018's i have bought for my cellar is Franck Balthazar Chaillot (I trust Balthazar in all vintages) and a few 2018 Verset Cornas. The Verset Cornas is ripe and with high alcohol, but somehow it still feels balanced and fresh (probably saved by the wholeclusters). I will probably not buy any more 18's. 2019 sounds like the same story more or less. So personally i am just backfilling until we get a colder vintage... if ever...


I bought and drank through few 2018 Saint-Josephs - mostly they were big and ripe, blocky and burly. Broadly speaking, the vintages 2009 to 2017 all showed better on release, to me, both in promise and in immediate pleasure. The only 2018s I am cellaring at the moment are the remaining bottles of the Clusel-Roch and some Mickael Bourg Cornas that I have yet to receive.

The Clusel-Roch cuvée "Champon" is a new cuvée as of 2018. I bought these from Robert Panzer, who wrote the following helpfully on the wine: https://downtoearthwines.net/product/20 ... e-champon/. I will try the 2019 when it is available, out of fairness since I am not so sanguine about the 2018 vintage.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#24 Post by Robert Panzer »

In as much as vintage generalizations can serve a purpose, I always come back to the details details details.
'18s can be all over the place.
Benetiere Cordeloux clocks in at upper 12% alcohol and is freakin' fantastic. Chewier and deeper than the '17, it likely won't win as many fans out the chute than the gorgeous '17. But may win in the long haul.
You can also find '18 Cote Rotie at 15% alc, and with rough tannin, no less....
Sorrel Hermitage Classique '18 is 14+% alc, and is incredibly finessed and delicate, dare I say Burgundian.
I'm not sure how to reconcile my impressions and Josh Raynolds' impressions of the '18 Clusel Champon with those of Zach's (for whom I have great respect as a taster and Rhone fanatic). I'd say that my first question would be whether or not they bottled the "Paul" cask alone, or if they blended in other parts that I didn't taste. I would then chalk it up to youthful tannic shutdown, encouraging patience. Wine will always have the last say.....
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#25 Post by Ramon C »

Am on the receiving end of a few 2017 Benetiere Cordeloux ( thanks, Greg) and happy to read the endorsement.

Will now tag Zach’s good notes above in case I come across these wines.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#26 Post by Zachary Ross »

Thanks Robert. I'm hanging on to the rest of the Clusel-Roch, patiently, to see how it all turns out!
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#27 Post by Greg K »

Ramon C wrote: March 16th, 2021, 5:32 pm Am on the receiving end of a few 2017 Benetiere Cordeloux ( thanks, Greg) and happy to read the endorsement.

Will now tag Zach’s good notes above in case I come across these wines.
Am looking forward to our test run of that bottle for sure!
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#28 Post by Greg K »

Zachary Ross wrote: March 16th, 2021, 4:07 pm
Greg K wrote: March 15th, 2021, 6:51 pm Zach, how much air did you give the Levet?

Not much, and then a lot - it was consistently excellent from about 15 minutes after opening through to the next day.
Thanks! I think we’re overdue for another northern Rhône horizontal - and Racines is open again. ;)
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#29 Post by A. So »

Great notes Zach. Thanks for posting in a consolidated place.

I have faith in the producers I generally buy, and I won't be skipping (or downsizing) on the 18s - took down some Jamet, Chave, Sorrel, and Gonon already. Will not hesitate on Allemand, Graillot, Clape, or Benetiere once they're offered.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#30 Post by Ethan Abraham »

Great notes thanks. Have yet to try any 18s though still buying most of my normal producers, maybe in lower quantity. Definitely up for a NYC rhone dinner...have some mags of the 06 levet.

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#31 Post by Zachary Ross »

A. So wrote: March 16th, 2021, 9:02 pm Great notes Zach. Thanks for posting in a consolidated place.

I have faith in the producers I generally buy, and I won't be skipping (or downsizing) on the 18s - took down some Jamet, Chave, Sorrel, and Gonon already. Will not hesitate on Allemand, Graillot, Clape, or Benetiere once they're offered.

Same. I'll buy Barge, Gilles, Cuchet-Beliando and Benetiere following the same pattern. (Already bought Gallet, which I forgot to mention earlier.)
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#32 Post by Chris V. »

Mouthwatering notes! Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#33 Post by LasseK »

Zachary Ross wrote: March 17th, 2021, 4:54 am
A. So wrote: March 16th, 2021, 9:02 pm Great notes Zach. Thanks for posting in a consolidated place.

I have faith in the producers I generally buy, and I won't be skipping (or downsizing) on the 18s - took down some Jamet, Chave, Sorrel, and Gonon already. Will not hesitate on Allemand, Graillot, Clape, or Benetiere once they're offered.

Same. I'll buy Barge, Gilles, Cuchet-Beliando and Benetiere following the same pattern. (Already bought Gallet, which I forgot to mention earlier.)
Have you tasted the 2018 Gallet yet?
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#34 Post by A. So »

Zachary Ross wrote: March 17th, 2021, 4:54 am
A. So wrote: March 16th, 2021, 9:02 pm Great notes Zach. Thanks for posting in a consolidated place.

I have faith in the producers I generally buy, and I won't be skipping (or downsizing) on the 18s - took down some Jamet, Chave, Sorrel, and Gonon already. Will not hesitate on Allemand, Graillot, Clape, or Benetiere once they're offered.

Same. I'll buy Barge, Gilles, Cuchet-Beliando and Benetiere following the same pattern. (Already bought Gallet, which I forgot to mention earlier.)
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#35 Post by Zachary Ross »

LasseK wrote: March 17th, 2021, 12:35 pm
Zachary Ross wrote: March 17th, 2021, 4:54 am
A. So wrote: March 16th, 2021, 9:02 pm Great notes Zach. Thanks for posting in a consolidated place.

I have faith in the producers I generally buy, and I won't be skipping (or downsizing) on the 18s - took down some Jamet, Chave, Sorrel, and Gonon already. Will not hesitate on Allemand, Graillot, Clape, or Benetiere once they're offered.

Same. I'll buy Barge, Gilles, Cuchet-Beliando and Benetiere following the same pattern. (Already bought Gallet, which I forgot to mention earlier.)
Have you tasted the 2018 Gallet yet?

Nope. I haven't tasted my 2016s or 2017s either.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#36 Post by Zachary Ross »

A. So wrote: March 17th, 2021, 12:48 pm
Zachary Ross wrote: March 17th, 2021, 4:54 am
A. So wrote: March 16th, 2021, 9:02 pm Great notes Zach. Thanks for posting in a consolidated place.

I have faith in the producers I generally buy, and I won't be skipping (or downsizing) on the 18s - took down some Jamet, Chave, Sorrel, and Gonon already. Will not hesitate on Allemand, Graillot, Clape, or Benetiere once they're offered.

Same. I'll buy Barge, Gilles, Cuchet-Beliando and Benetiere following the same pattern. (Already bought Gallet, which I forgot to mention earlier.)
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#37 Post by Ethan Abraham »

Zachary Ross wrote: March 17th, 2021, 2:48 pm
LasseK wrote: March 17th, 2021, 12:35 pm
Zachary Ross wrote: March 17th, 2021, 4:54 am


Same. I'll buy Barge, Gilles, Cuchet-Beliando and Benetiere following the same pattern. (Already bought Gallet, which I forgot to mention earlier.)
Have you tasted the 2018 Gallet yet?

Nope. I haven't tasted my 2016s or 2017s either.
17 is solid. I'm not quite 94 pts like Keith L's CT note, maybe a big muddier/grapier than I'd like right now, but it certainly isn't hugely structured.

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#38 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

Zachary Ross wrote: March 15th, 2021, 1:41 pm Some recent wines, many of them great.

  • 2012 Domaine Bernard Gripa St. Joseph Cuvée Le Berceau - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph (3/14/2021)
    Really nice and absolutely ready to go. This is all cool, polished granite, with dark berries, beef, and stone. Ripe and clean, this isn't the wildest or most animale Syrah but it is stunningly pure and super drinkable. Texturally it's all there as the tannins have completely smoothed out - this just glides across the palate. With air a bit of wildness starts to show - just enough.
  • 2016 Julien Pilon Cornas L'elégance du Caillou - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (3/7/2021)
    I got excited when I located a bit of this wine after reading up on Pilon on JLL's website. The wine comes from old-vine Cornas (~1950s) rented from Elie Bancel and, evidently, it is raised in 1-year-old and 2-3-year-old oak casks. I bought a few for science! The first bottle was a bit reductive at first, then fresh but without much depth; not much better than a Cotes-du-Rhone. This bottle was larger, deeper, more full of material, but with a strong oak imprint, caramel on the finish. I poured some of this into small bottles and am tasting it now, and while the wine has come around some and is showing more authentically Cornas, there still is the strong oak signature seen on the finish and in the overall texture. I am surprised, as JLL has very good things to say about Pilon and I expected a certain terroir transparency, especially with the 2016 vintage. Although now I am rereading JLL and see that Pilon worked with Cuilleron and then Gaillard and perhaps that is all that needs to be said.
  • 1999 Domaine Barge Côte-Rôtie Cuvée du Plessy - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (3/7/2021)
    Blood and guts - this is just great aged Cote-Rotie. It has veered off from the more suave, fresh, Burgundy-like showing from when I last had this wine a few years ago to a much wilder, more smoky and savory, animale presentation. It's kind of a loud wine - lots of palate-staining flavor. The small core of plump cooked blueberry fruit is seamlessly integrated with the savory smoke, leather, camphor, ash, and soy sauce notes that resound on the long, silky finish. No reason to wait any longer here.
  • 2006 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (3/2/2021)
    Just awesome. A little dull upon pop-n-pour, this soon opened up with a huge smokey and gamey nose with piercing dark raspberry fruit and classic Syrah floral notes powering through. Dark and firm, this is just starting its rise into maturity. Savory, wild, perfect. So well integrated and composed, just a pleasure to drink. This was still going strong on Day 2 as well.
  • 2010 Guillaume Gilles Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (1/31/2021)
    Absolute beast. Very dark with purple tones, as you approach its event horizon there is deep blackberry fruit, raw bitter bark, explosive violet flowers, dusty granite. Super powerful and raw on the palate, the fruit is stunning but this quickly clams up and goes balls to the wall feral - game, olives, briar, crushed rocks, all umami all the time. Pretty fierce tannins underneath rasp out the finish. This is old-school Cornas, burly and uncompromising. It needs at least 10 years, probably more, to show its best. I dig it.
  • 1988 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (1/31/2021)
    Flippin' epic showing; blind via small bottles from Seth. The nose at first is musty cellar, moss, and antique cabinetry (this had me leaning Burgundy) but it rounds out with air to show beautiful red fruit tinged with leather, soy, meat locker, and some bretty barn door. Beautiful to drink and rivetingly fresh, it's all red fruit and umami spectrum flavors, very long and utterly captivating. The funky brett and the resolved core of red fruit reminded me of Levet, which was my guess. This gained vigor and intensity over the course of a couple of hours and showed no signs of stopping. A pour from a second small bottle showed smokier and brinier than the first, revealing more archetypal Syrah notes. What a great wine!
  • 2017 Guillaume Gilles Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (1/1/2021)
    Hot dag this is great. I am so, so pleased that this bottle is showing so well in contrast to the first bottle I opened back in April. The big purple fruit witnessed then is here in spades, but it's very well defined and super pure, just rivetingly clear and precise. There's all sorts of classic Cornas guttiness, rocks, savory meats, etc. wrapped up in here. With air a tart edge emerges as well as a medicinal note of bitter bark - classic Gilles. Very long, with a grippy and gamy cling that doesn't let go. I'm gaga, agog, googling for more. This is going to be incredible in 10-15 years.
  • 2012 Domaine du Coulet (Matthieu Barret) Cornas Billes Noires - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (12/16/2020)
    Classic Coulet - thrilling at the get-go with a wildly intoxicating nose of funky truffle, earth, burnished dark red fruit and a pungent sharp edge. It follows on the palate, which is medium-weight and has a strong sense of brewed, rather than fresh, fruit and a warm affect - this is sensual, enveloping wine, hedonistic even, but it's also got a juiciness and lift. It's really beguiling and very distinctive and I imagine I'd nail the producer in a blind tasting. But this is Natty Wine™ and, with air, things veer over to the wild and, unfortunately, less pleasurable side - still good, at least for a while, but nowhere near as seductive. Before long, the veil lifts and what's left is a sharp, very bright red-fruited wine, with some natural-wine funk that creeps in steadily and without mercy, eventually taking over completely. From the onset there's a slight sense of the gour-de-souris, and that just ramps up and dominates as the wine rests. Still, fun stuff, worth the time and tariff.
  • 2016 Christophe Billon Côte-Rôtie Vieilles Vignes - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (11/30/2020)
    Tasted over two days. This is a very dark and impressive Cote-Rotie, dense and powerful and therefore unlike other Northern Rhone wines I have tasted from the 2016 vintage. The nose is very dark berries tinged with floral notes and smoky game; very refined and clear nose. On the palate there is a lot of extract here, dense but fresh with excellent acids - juicy. The fruit is very ripe but it's beautifully relieved by the acidity. Power and finesse. On the first day, very fine tannins close out the finish with a cottony texture; these eased significantly toward silkiness on day 2, which showed the wine more open and no worse for wear given the day of air. I'm burying my other bottle for at least ten years.
  • 2018 Clusel-Roch Côte-Rôtie Champon - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (10/21/2020)
    Seth gave this wine more thought and attention than I did. I followed this for two days, and then came back for a third yesterday. The wine is large-scaled, ripe, marked by oak, blocky and without much finesse. This surprised me as I expected a much more suave and finessed wine.

    Is it the vintage? This is only the second Northern Rhone wine I have tasted from 2018; the other is the Domaine de Fauterie Saint-Joseph Les Combaud, which itself is large-scaled, blocky, and a bit dull, lacking freshness.

HAHA, someone has been buying from Mannie Berk!

Awesome line-up, I know some of those wines. Your notes and impressions are impeccable. That 2012 Grippa is excellent, as is the burly 2006 Levet. These are such classic, old school N. Rhones.

You inspired me to go similarly “geeky” with an under-the-radar Cotie Rotie tonight, paired with pizza of all things as I just drove in from the beach.


2012 Domaine Joël Champet Côte-Rôtie La Viallière

Feral and gamey on the nose. Stem inclusion is palpable, think Levet. A truly classic CR, with saline, pepper spice, seared meats on the nose. An iron note that I’m digging. The wine has added heft since last time I tried it, less open than some other 2012 N. Rhones. This is still rather burly, chewy, rustic. Solid range of red to dark fruits, with the reds on the wild, brambly, tart side, finishing with a darker note. Faryan with the golden palate is always speaking about the Rhone Rule of 15, this one definitely needs it. Almost drinks more like a 2010. An utterly classic, backward, stoic Cote Rotie. I bought four, wish I had grabbed a full case. This wine has a long runway for continued improvement. I’m gonna leave 1/2 a bottle for tomorrow to see what evolves.

(94+ pts.).


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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#39 Post by Zachary Ross »

Great note! I need to get into Champet more - not enough experience with the wines.

And thanks for the nice words. But - I've never bought anything from Mannie Berk!
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#40 Post by LasseK »

Zachary Ross wrote: March 17th, 2021, 2:48 pm Nope. I haven't tasted my 2016s or 2017s either.
Fair enough. I bought 15, 16 and 17 Gallet's after tasting the 2012 based on the Cote-Rotie under 100 thread. But i am not so sure about 2018 overall...
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#41 Post by Faryan Amir-Ghassem¡ »

Great note RA. Don’t quote me on rules of 15. Everything I know about Rhone is through drunk osmosis from the likes of Rhone Gods like Zach, Greg, Salil, Seth, Ramon, etc...
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#42 Post by Ramon C »

Greg K wrote: March 16th, 2021, 8:43 pm
Zachary Ross wrote: March 16th, 2021, 4:07 pm
Greg K wrote: March 15th, 2021, 6:51 pm Zach, how much air did you give the Levet?

Not much, and then a lot - it was consistently excellent from about 15 minutes after opening through to the next day.
Thanks! I think we’re overdue for another northern Rhône horizontal - and Racines is open again. ;)
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#43 Post by Zachary Ross »

I'll bust out my Cornas hoodie! #cornasvirus
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#44 Post by Jayson Cohen »

Teaser?
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#45 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

Jayson Cohen wrote: March 19th, 2021, 5:57 pm Teaser?

Phuck.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#46 Post by Zachary Ross »

Um, yeah.

We also briefly discussed a Gallet mini-vertical of 99-01. But yeah, everyone's primed.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#47 Post by MikeL238 »

Jayson Cohen wrote: March 19th, 2021, 5:57 pm Teaser?
[wow.gif]
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#48 Post by Faryan Amir-Ghassem¡ »

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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#49 Post by Ramon C »

Jayson Cohen wrote: March 19th, 2021, 5:57 pm Teaser?
You’re a juge man.
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Re: Northern Rhone roundup

#50 Post by Zachary Ross »

Juge, jury, executioner.
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