Nowhere else on Earth, not even elsewhere in the Northern Rhône, does Syrah manage to remain light and elegant, while still demonstrating intensity and complexity. The New World has ripeness and power; Hermitage has majesty; only Côte-Rôtie delivers sheer grace.
But not all Côte-Rôtie does that. The point system, market demands, international tastes—something—led to Côte-Rôties that are disguised to taste like something else. Something more universal. Delicious, maybe. But without that balance of light precision and depth of flavor; without grace. In fact, this problem has become so prevalent that the hold-out rebels—and we hardly have to name names—have become like precious jewels. At Flatiron, we cheer these rebels on...and then only wish that we could find/afford the wine.
Fortunately, we got on the Benetière train early and we continue to get reasonable allocations every year. Benetière is most definitely a traditionalist producer who makes the graceful jewels in Côte-Rôtie that we admire.
Partly this gracefulness comes from Benetière's wine-making style and old-school methods (very little new wood, whole clusters, etc. etc.). Partly it's because of his principal holdings' situation very close to Condrieu. A good 5% of Benetière's Cordeloux is Viognier, and it is very high quality juice! He also makes some very fine white wine from Condrieu itself!