Northern Rhone Masters Dinner

I’ve fallen out of habit with writing notes, but this event was too good to not formalize thoughts with pen to paper. Great friends, good food, superb wine. The cadence was a bit frenetic given the volume, but I’m always slow with wines so that may be nitpicking. Broader takeaways are that Jamet, Allemand and Verset make some of the finest wines in the world. We were musing about the affordability of comparable quality in Burgundy, and the difference is laughable. Of course, there is more rusticity to these wines as (Michael astutely pointed) they were true vin de table and artisanal in approach rather than tete de cuvee so to speak.

Nonetheless, the three producers (not to denigrate Chave, Guigal, Clape or Vallouit – masters in their own right) simply have an exceptional touch and precision in crafting wines of a singular quality. Truly legends. The only sad trend is the price action of these wines. Allemand went from hysterically affordable (don’t tell anyone!) to nearly a pass on current release. Verset has a scarcity premium which unfortunately draws label-chasers, and Jamet has also become parabolic in pricing.

If anything, there is great hope for the next generation of legends to make wines of comparable quality and prestige. The terroir is clearly there. I only worry that some of the forces of conglomeration that we’ve seen in the last generation from regional powerhouses like Guigal and Chapoutier may obfuscate some of the terroir and drive away an artisan approach more to a “house” style. Nonetheless, being a lover of Syrah has never been better, and great importers are combing for talent now more than ever. Most of the reds were double decanted to remove sediment and to allow for the wines to open.

Champagne Prelude – 3 Dom Perignon (2 Oenothèques)

Oenos are really spectacular wines. They just have a more polished flavor profile compared to regular DPs that come across more chiseled to me.

1990 Reg Cuvee – While slightly corked, there was pleasure to be had. More rounding and brioche qualities, but there was some wetness on the nose and a clipped mushy finish. Shame as this bottle could have been spectacular.
1995 Oenothèque– came across as a bit more closed compared to the 96 which was the schisse.
1996 Oenothèque– really expressive, round, way less coiled than the regular bottling (granted I haven’t had the reg for about a year).

Chardonnay Flight – Three Distinct Beauties

1999 Ramonet Batard Montrachet – Started off closed but round into form throughout the evening (as I hoarded a glass). Super well crafted, lovely floral lift. Some mint, butterscotch. Superb stuff.

2006 Coche Dury Puligny Montrachet – lightning as usual. I think Coche does a better job than anyone in balancing modern/rounding flavors and bracing fruit profiles. It builds on these two pillars so masterfully without tilting into a mess.

2005 Overnoy (Emmanuel Houillon) Chardonay (Arbois; no Savignin) – Tim was pretty awe inspired, but I found this a bit awkward. First, the bottle was super cloudy, and I had this wine a year ago in Paris and it was clean. Second, the musky Jura aromas kept flirting between overpowering and in check. Nonetheless, there was serious intensity to this wine, and a real depth of flavor that is classic Overnoy. Nutty aromas but also true Chardonnay profile.

Cornas Flight – Thiery and Noel (later joined by Auguste)

1999 Allemand Reynard – Holy shit this was good on first pour. Just superb craft, balance and purity. Syrah near its apogee: bramble, florality, sauvage, depth and supple finish.

2000 Allemand Reynard – A bit more coiled than the 99 but started becoming more expressive with time.

2000 Noel Verset Cornas – This was incredible. It undulated between coffe, toffee, roast aromatics with beautiful floarlity, dripping olives and sauvage. This is what Guigal Lala should be frankly. Masculine in the way male models with skinny jeans are (not Fabio beefcakes).

1991 Auguste Clape Cornas – Michael generously opened this at the end of the night as it was his backup, so it did not fall in sequence alongside the others. I was pretty smitten with it, but don’t have a super concrete recollection.

Cote Rotie Flight – Jamet and Guigal

1998 Jamet Cote Rotie – Perhaps the greatest Syrah I’ve ever tasted. The floral intensity of it was second to none. So pure. Exotic but not slutty. It was utterly profound.

1999 Jamet Cote Rotie – Similar to our Allemand flight, the second of the Jamet’s was a bit more reticent and showed more depth and structure compared to the 98 which was at a wonderful plateau.

1994 E Guigal La Mouline – A stellar wine in its own right, it came off as far more clumsy in comparison. Drawing the parallel to Verset, Mouline had similar exotic flavor profiles of chocolate and espresso but it felt more manipulated and less pure. Only in such a comparison could someone come away really disheartened by its showing; it was lovely in its own right.

Hermitage Flight – Jean-Louis Chave and Louis de Vallouit

1994 Chave Hermitage – Drinking extremely well. More advanced in terms of secondary/tertiary complexity than any of the other wines, but it had an uncommon pitch that comes with aged wines that we weren’t getting from our younger flights.

1995 Vallouit Greffiers – Now defunct producer. His Cote Rotie swallowed by Guigal. Not sure what happened to the Hermitage. 90 year vines. Dripping olives, super clean, not as dimensional or precise as the Allemands or Jamets, I think it needed more time but isn’t cut from the same cloth.


1988 Climens – Always spectacular in terms of balance. Dave astutely asked if 88 Climens is one of the 10 best Sauternes made in the last 30 years, and I would have to agree. If anything, it is consistently the greatest value.

2006 Dönnhoff Schloßböckelheimer Kupfergrube Riesling Auslese GK – Somebody pronounce that…beautiful electricity to complement the floral and rounded nature of the Climens. Beautiful comparison. Super young, more mineral driven.

There are some ballerific photos floating around social media (Weygandt Wines and Terroirist). I do not post them for fear of being ostracized. Our menu for the evening was furnished by Frank Ruta, who is settling in at Acapella. Spectacular cuisine as usual. Phenomenal location for a wine dinner. DC is lucky to have him back in the fold. Fin.

enjoyed reading the write up Faryan, and the social media frenzy last night was fun to watch, too.

you think the '99 Allemand will remain at peak for a while? had it a couple years ago, and it was incredible.

Great writeup, thanks. Sounds wonderful. I basicallyagree with your assessment about Jamet, Verset, and Allemand. Amazing wines.

Guigal bought all of de Vallouit’s vineyards. The Hermitage vineyard is the source for Guigal’s Ex Voto.

It’s a shame you didn’t have some Guigal for comparison

Doesn’t the UN have some regulation against the wholesale destruction of sites of historical and cultural significance? [stirthepothal.gif]

Don’t hurt me, I actually love LaLas…

I no longer fit in skinny jeans, so I take great offense to this note!!

Faryan, get off your arse and post more often! Seriously dude, you have a great way of describing detail and context. These notes for such reference-point wines are fantastic. Thank you.

Great recap of what sounds like a special evening. The starter bubbles and finishing sweeties alone would have made for a great night! The price escalation in just the past 3-5 years on some of these Rhone producers has been breathtaking, but given how many toiled in relative obscurity until recently, you feel it’s more like they’re finally getting their due, which takes some of the sting out of it.

Also glad to hear Ruta is back on the scene. The closures of Dino and Palena in rapid succession was a real blow around here (no Palena burger!).

Thanks again for the write-up.


Sounds like a great evening. That '98 Jamet is, without a doubt, the best syrah I’ve ever had and it is still so young. Cannot wait to see where it goes.

Faryan, thanks for posting notes! It was a great evening. Think you’re missing a bottle of Hermitage, although the wines that stood out for me were also the Jamet, Allemand, and Verset!

And the food. Hot damn.

Fantastic notes. Many thanks. I’m late to the Allemand and Jamet party but have high hopes for my recent stash based on these notes, amongst others.

Sorry to hear your '90 Oeno was off-par - it was my wine of the year last year, a truly spectacular bottle…

Actually, contrary to what Faryan originally posted above, the '90 Dom was just regular old '90 Dom, not Oeno. The other two were in fact Oeno though.

Also - and this comment is specifically for Scott C. - Dom is just so inconsistent. I am done with big house Champagne. It is supposed to be a model of consistent greatness, and it so often disappoints. Growers only for me (excepting Salon) from now on!


Absolutely. We had a comparably aged Sans Soufre courtesy of Salil (unicorn master) that was fell apart after 45 minutes of bliss, but the regulars seem more stable.

Of course you don’t fit in skinny jeans; it’s all that 05 Meyney!

Funny story Rick - Phil B who works at Bassins (and hooked me up with the Verset sometime ago so it didn’t cost a small fortune only a small ransom) several years ago offered me an insane price on the 98 Jamet. I dallied and it of course evaporated. I curse the day still.

Well it still is wine; I think we all go through bottle variation and corking. With that being said, I prefer to spend my dollars on growers as well more so for the same reason I prefer Allemand to Guigal. Different approach and more idiosyncracies. I’ll spend my dollars on Selosse, Chartogne Taillet, Mignon and Prevost.

Great notes on what looks to be a fabulous wine dinner Faryan!

I concur with your notes on that '98 Jamet. Word-for-word, that’s how I remember the bottles that Ihad over the last few years. It continues to be one of my favorite Jamet from the 90’s. Also agree that the '99 Jamet has the more complexity and I suspect it’s still tight at this point, though.

My recollection of the 2005 Overnoy-Houillon Chardonnay during an Overnoy vertical we had here at Racines 2 months ago was harshness with plenty of old wood and I was not as impressed with it as I was with the other Chardonnay’s that night.

Good to read a note on where the 2000 Verset is these days. While, not that crazy about it being described as a male model in skinny jeans, I’ll take any good note that I can on the wine given that mine are in deep slumber in offsite storage.

I wonder how many of us have being googling and wine-searching for '98 Jamet! I did.

I feel like I do that every couple months.

$450 at Rare Wine Company. [cheers.gif]

And that’s why I always abandon plan. That’s way above my arbitrarily imposed price ceiling. But I’m hoping that I find the gold mine at some point – like I did in October 2013 when I found 83, 85, 89, 90, and 91 Verset for $125/bottle.

I admit I google for the '98 Jamet almost every other week, with the hope that I can add to my diminished stash. That’s how much I like that wine, and I want to replenish as it’s hard to lay off this very nice drinker. Unfortunately, any available pricing that I see are not within my comfort zone.