recent Northern Rhones

2006 Pierre Jean Villa Cornas
The retail price of this wine is about $100, but I got it for $15 on winebid. Very modern Cornas, with zingy, kirschy red fruits and some compelling Syrah funk leaping from the glass; on the palate, it’s smooth, juicy, and very clean, a note of coffee and leaves, and then the new oak kicks in on the finish, but not excessively so. This is actually quite stylish and very well made, clearly very ripe but well structured and interesting. I expected to dislike it but it’s winning me over.

2006 Domaine Georges Vernay Côte-Rôtie Blonde du Seigneur
This is 10% Viognier and it shows on the nose, gracefully and beautifully. On the palate it’s too young (I ignored the “Rule of 15” here, so sue me) but still so pretty, with musky and smoky Syrah flavors, autumn leaves, and a bit of oak richness and a fair amount of silky but drying tannins. Very elegant and likely to be just lovely with time.

2005 Jocelyne & Yves Lafoy Côte-Rôtie Cuvée "JYL"
Perfectly nice Cote-Rotie, right down the middle. I believe this is the domaine’s youngest-vines cuvée. Clean and direct, iron/metallic and spicy nose, savory red fruits, slim frame, gentle and elegant with clear, sweet fruit. Totally correct, if a bit unexciting. Would be a nice value choice off a restaurant wine list.

2006 Domaine Richard St. Joseph Les Nuelles Vieilles Vignes
Considerably better and more interesting than the first bottle of this I had back in May. The nose is classic Saint-Joseph meat, pepper, etc., and the texture is old-vine supple and very fresh. Still drying on the finish. I’m encouraged to hold the rest of these for a bit longer

2007 Domaine Richard St. Joseph Les Nuelles Vieilles Vignes
Very nice, more aromatic at first than the 2006, redder but still dark, nice meatiness and smokiness, but a bit short on the finish. Might be very nice with another couple years.

2009 Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet (Hervé Souhaut) St. Joseph
Astoundingly fresh and approachable young Saint-Joseph, with all the floral, smoky, and gamy notes you’d ever want or expect, and with the fruit prominent but considerably more understated than the other 2009 Saint-Josephs I have tried. This is a beauty. It is, however, not apparently built for the long haul, as there are almost no tannins to speak of, it is made with very little sulfur, and the wine is so outrageously approachable at this young age that one wonders how much more it could open up with time.

2010 Domaine Auguste Clape Le Vin des Amis
Excellent vintage for the Vin des Amis: hugely floral, potpourri-level aromatics, with rich purple fruit. It’s really over the top right now but ought to settle into a groove in a year or two.

2010 Domaine Auguste Clape Côtes du Rhône
Clape’s 100% Syrah Côtes du Rhône is one of the best-kept secrets in wine, and this vintage is simply aces. Some of the vines that produce the grapes for this economical wonder date from the 1890s. Dark, damson/blackberry nose with a vivid fennel streak, new leather, sous bois notes, a huge graphite and granite minerality and an almost barrel-sample like youth and freshness, while on the palate it’s all that and more, with tremendous depth and ample but feathery tannins that turn grainy on the finish. Comparisons to a top Saint-Joseph pretty well hit the mark, and the pricing is justly comparable. I bet this hits its stride in 5-7 years.

2008 Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 30
Lots of bottle stink on opening that persisted for a long while. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and lifted with smooth red fruits, salted/smoked meaty funk, good minerality, and a few tannins. This doesn’t seem to be one for the ages but it is a very nice drink, and quite reasonable at the $20 closeout price. (Subsequent bottles were not as stinky and were smoother - nice)

2010 Domaine Vincent Paris St. Joseph
From young vines, evidently made in a style meant to be consumed young. Very young and clenched fairly tight, needing a bit of air and swirling to open up. This has a cool character - much cooler than the hotter-vintage 2009 wines I’ve tasted from Paris - with tightly enveloped seam of tangy red and blue fruits, floral notes, and game, and a firm stoniness to the structure. I’d like to taste this again in a year to get a better read on the wine.

2004 Gilles Barge Côte-Rôtie Cuvée du Plessy
Seems like this is just beginning to turn the corner into its second phase. Flowers, smoky bacon, drying leaves, all in an elegant package. Another 5-7 years ought to do the trick

2004 Delas Frères Côte-Rôtie Seigneur de Maugiron
Really lovely wine. Upon opening a note of raw oak takes control (maybe that’s why Parker gave it higher marks than most Northern Rhone wines from this vintage) but it blows off quickly. The wine is fresh, elegant, full flavored without weight, and classically Côte-Rôtie: little red fruits, flowers, bacon, etc. Even more, there’s a powerful sense of wet dirt intermixed in the flavor profile. With time it develops a completely alluring, musky scent that one could smell for hours. This is drinking very well now and probably will continue to for the next 5-7 years at least.

2004 André Perret St. Joseph Les Grisières
Perret’s old-vine cuvée, from vines ranging from 50-80 years old, aged 18 months in 20-50% new oak, depending on the vintage. Presumably this vintage fell on the short end of this spectrum. This is utterly delicious and in its early prime. Red-fruited and lifted with floral notes, autumnal and smoky Syrah tones, and truffles; super fresh and sweet on the attack with lovely spiciness, a touch of smoke, and minerals, and a bit of cedary oak (or something) on the finish (but few tannins). It’s graceful and ‘feminine’ in tone, more like Côte-Rôtie than Cornas, if one were to make the comparison. I really enjoyed this, and more than I expected.

Good stuff sir. That Clape CDR sounds pretty awesome, must try some.

I had the 2004 Georges Vernay Cote Rotie Maison Rouge last month. Expressively perfumed and the taste was very feminine and smooth. Really liked it. One of the better, somewhat modern, young No Rhone that I’ve had for $40.

I’ll be looking out for that Clape CdR.

When I was selecting a couple of some Clape Vin des Amis at Chambers David Lillie urged me to try the Gonon VdP Les Iles Feray.
great wine for less $$$ than the Clape Amis.

Great notes Zachary

thanks for the notes Zach - i’ve been found of Clape but have never tried his CdR. Thanks for the tip.

Suzanne, I agree about the Gonon, which is an incredible wine for less than $20. The problem is that it is completely sold out, unless Chambers has a secret stash that they have been hiding from me.

wow, what a line-up. thanks for sharing the notes.

Thanks for the kind words. I should add that this lineup of wines was consumed over two months or so - N. Rhone has been a recent obsession.

The Gonon Îles de Feray is awesome, or at least previous vintages of it have been. No surprise there, as Gonon is one of the great Northern Rhone domaines of today.

The Clape CdR, at about $34, i.e., the basic upper-tier Saint-Joseph price point, is really worthy. I need to get some more of it.

Also, as an added observation, I’ve really been happy with Northern Rhone wines from the 2004 vintage. Those I have had have seemed a bit lighter in profile than those from more celebrated vintages, perhaps, but wines from the better domaines have plenty of flavor and character. And as you could probably tell from my notes above, many that I have had are drinking well right now.

it is sold out…this was early last year and the 09. Bought a case of the 09 and a case of the 10 when it was offered

I agree about the 2004 vintage. I’ve always enjoyed the 2004s and I should definitely try some more soon. No matter what I drink, I always crave northern rhones, and there are some good recommendations here. Cheers.