NYT Wine School: The Northern Rhône

NYT Wine School: The Northern Rhône

We've talked at length about the specifics of The Northern Rhône--it's the last great frontier of French wine. It's more rugged, more remote, and more extreme than any other famed region in the Hexagon. In fact, we feel this region is so important that we've written several blogs about it, all contained within this Complete Guide to the Northern Rhone

Perhaps most striking today, though, is its reliance on one single variety for its red wines: Syrah, with its bold, savory flavors and ability to transmit terroir. You can read up on this noble grape in our Syrah Q&A.

But let's get to why we're here today! Many of you who have been customers for a while know that we closely follow Eric Asimov's Wine School column. If you're just joining us--welcome! You can get a sneak peak into our history with Eric by reading our previous blog about how best to get NYT's wine suggestions! Luckily, thanks to our love of the Northern Rhone, all three of Eric's suggestions are IN STOCK today. 
In his latest Wine School, Asimov encourages an in-depth study of three distinct Northern Rhône terroirs: Crozes Hermitage, St. Joseph and Cornas. He sheds light on how amazing it can be to see how even the slight differences in climates or soil type can drastically change the character of a wine made with a single grape variety. 
 
Two of Eric's three selections are from J.L. Chave Selection. Jean-Louis Chave is best known for his Hermitage bottlings, incredibly rare red and white wines with price tags to match. But Jean Louis also makes amazing wines (which we have featured many times in our Newsletters) under his negociant label, including the Crozes-Hermitage and Saint Joseph featured today. These wines hail from terroirs not too far from Hermitage (or from each other) and yet they are fascinatingly distinct expressions of Syrah.
 
Cornas, at the southern tip of the Northern Rhône makes some of the most intense Syrah wines. Steep slopes allow the vines to receive maximal sunshine, and its southerly position means it's noticeably warmer than, say, Côte-Rôtie. Cornas grapes typically ripen a whole week earlier than their neighboring villages'.
 
Eric's third featured grower, Vincent Paris, inherited prime real estate from his uncle, Robert Michel, who was considered a pioneer of high-quality wines in the region. Vincent is clearly following in his uncle's footsteps, crafting wines of great purity and concentration.
 
Join us in our continued exploration of the Northern Rhône with Asimov's recommended wines. 

Jean-Louis Chave Selections, Crozes-Hermitage Silène, 2018 

Made 60% from vines owned by the Domaine on the back side of the hill of Hermitage. It’s usually wrong to think of Crozes as “baby Hermitage” because the soils are usually so different, but in this case, with its hillside granitic soils, the description is perfectly apt!
 

J.L. Chave Selection, Saint-Joseph “Offerus”, 2017 

Jean-Louis uses his domaine's young vines, which produce less tannic berries, and some sourced fruit from the AOC's northern corners, where the grapes are naturally fresh and elegant. Chave, of course, makes the wine with the same light touch as he uses for his Hermitage, in a style that emphasizes fruit purity rather than power.
 

Vincent Paris, Cornas Granit 30, 2018

The name of this wine explains everything you need to know: it's Cornas, on granite slopes at a 30-degree angle. The vines are organically farmed, and Vincent would rather have a small amount of perfect grapes than a larger number of middling quality — he prunes far beyond what is considered standard in the region. Ultimately, Vincent wants his land (most of which he inherited from his grandfather and uncle) to be in perfect balance and as healthy as possible.

READ MORE:

Complete Guide to the Northern Rhone Wine Region

The Northern Rhone is a favorite region among many wine-lovers, so we thought it was time to create a comprehensive guide. 

How to use this guide: 

  • 1. Read the previews of each blog post.
  • 2. Click the title links to read the entire post. 
  • 3. Become an expert in the Northern Rhone. 
  • 4. Follow the links in each post to purchase some NR wines. 
  • 5. Become a lover of the Northern Rhone.
(It's that easy!)

Simple Guide to Hermitage Wine Region

Hermitage produces the greatest Syrah-based wines from anywhere. Cote Rotie, maybe even Cornas, might be hipper than Hermitage these days. But, in my mind, it's similar to the way that the wines of the Jura are hipper than, say, Chambertin from Burgundy. Sure, the cool kids drink more Jura, but they never turn down a taste of Chambertin. Because Chambertin is better. And likewise, Hermitage is better than Cornas. It’s probably also better than Cote Rotie.

Wine Q&A: Syrah, top to bottom

Syrah is one of the greatest grape varieties that produces wine.
Here are all your questions about the grape answered.

Flatiron's Guide to Cote Rotie

Allen Meadows, more familiarly known as Burghound, was once asked what wines he likes to drink most from outside of Burgundy. His answer was Cote Rotie. I've heard this kind of answer again and again from wine drinkers who love Burgundy.

The Ultimate Guide to Cornas

For years, Cornas was just another “value” village of the Northern Rhone, with a reputation more like St. Joseph, say, than Cote Rotie or Hermitage. It was deemed “rustic” and a source for “country” wine. Things have changed! 

You can find that wine! Here's how to get your hands on the New York Times top wine picks.

Eric Asimov, writing in the New York Times, gave us a super shout-out when he declared that we are one of the “great New York City wine shops,” and one of the rare wine stores in America where you can actually find the wines that he recommends in the New York Times.
Valerie Pimpinelli