2015 Gramenon La Sagesse Côtes du Rhône

A wild but intensely delicious Grenache grown organically with some biodynamic twiddling and made with a lot of risk taking if the yeasty, low sulphur edge is an indication. It goes deep into raspberry, spice, cherry, rose perfume and single origin, exotic chocolate. Sits in the mouth and sort of implodes into something like a lump of limestone wrapped in velvet. Despite the feral complications, the extraordinary quality of the grapes here wins out, just. Some would be more technically pragmatic perhaps?

14.8% alcohol. Cork. About €35 from Lavinia in what seems a very far away Paris at the moment.

95 points, much less in a laboratory.

2017 Guillaume Gonnet Le Rêveur Côtes du Rhône

Another value direct import from Woolworths. A whiff of sulphurous reduction to start which airs away to allow flowers, cherry preserve and a slap of sweet leather to emerge. Not huge or deep but gentle and pure in flavour. Over a couple of days, things cleaned up even more and some Southern Rhône shrubbery smells popped up amongst the very ripe fruit. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah with the former’s ability to hang on to natural acidity very much on show, refreshing and binding the fine tannin. Such value imports are becoming the best reason to visit the shelves at Dan’s. The cheerful and good natured frontline workers braving retail every day in such times are another.

14% alcohol. Screwcap. $18.10 in a six.

90 points.

2017 Cave de Tain Crozes-Hermitage

From the major and very good Northern Rhône cooperative, Cave de Tain, and a direct import by Woolworths, this is a relatively a good value intro into the home of Syrah. If you were expecting a crisp red fruited and smokily floral effort typical of a cooler latitude, then you’ll be surprised by the rich, darker fruited power of what tastes like a hot vintage. Beautifully clean, dark red fruit, spice and chewy dry skin tannin make this more typical of Languedoc or Australia than Crozes. Evolved well over three days, shaking off some sulphide reduction to sweeten nicely. Climate change sceptics need to drink more. The evidence of warmer, earlier vintages is clearly in the glass.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. $33.

92 points.

2016 Mas de Libian Côtes du Rhône Bout d’Zan

Organic and Biodynamic Grenache for the most part and some Syrah. Opens with a whiff of matchstick reduction which happily lifts to show the brightest raspberries and sweet green Mediterranean shrubbery. Really pure scents and flavors, bouncy across the tongue as fresh mouthwatering acidity and a rasp of fine skin tannin balance things up. It takes some patience to let it sit in the glass but the reward is some extra depth of stewed cherries, aniseed and a calm earthy energy. Zan was the nickname of the maker’s father. He’d be proud to see it on the label of what the importers call a high country freshness from the western slopes of the Rhône, both kinds of C&W good.

14% alcohol. Cork. Lucky win at auction.

93 points.

2017 Domaine Garon Côtes du Rhône La Part des Vivants

Wine that evaporates during winemaking before bottling is often called the angels’ share, thus what’s left is for us, the living or vivants. This fresh and clean blend of 70% Northern Rhône Syrah with 20% Grenache and 10% Carignan from around Cairanne and Rasteau improves with breathing in some oxygen over a few days. Initially a bit reduced in that Northern Rhône way suggesting smoky sulphurous incense, some bright raspberry fruit breaks out in a tart just ripe way. Underneath lurks some dark chocolate, a small bite of licorice and a pinch of brown spice. There’s also that Northern Rhône smoky typical something that perhaps is sort of incense like or earthy or rocky, beyond this limited power of description probably. By days deux and trois the fruit’s pungent and the mouth’s enjoying the ripe acidity and fine tannin. Would be a fine intro to the savoury bite of good cool Syrah. Nice drink for the angels who probably need one this time of year.

14% alcohol. Cork. $38.

93 points.

2010 Jean-Luc Colombo Saint Joseph Les Lauves

Not to be confused with the squinting cigar waving TV detective, M. Colombo has long been associated with a modern, techno approach to Northern Rhône Syrah including lavish amounts of new oak. Surprisingly this seems more traditionally restrained albeit nicely clean. Foresty dark red fruits, baking spices, smoke and a violet menthol lift. Resolved, round and savoury in flavour with good raspberry and cherry fading gently into crepuscular, lovely word, resolution. A quietly assured balance of fruit, savour, acid and tannin. Wouldn’t leave it much longer to linger in the cellar though.

13% alcohol. Cork. Lucky hugely discounted buy when the importer quit their remaining stock.

92 points.

2018 Famille Marcel Richaud Côtes du Rhône Les Buisserons

Sigh, last of the Paris buys worth a mention. From a caviste tucked away on a one way street close to Place de la Republique, overdue a visit and full of good choices like Richaud and Gramenon next to each other on the Rhône shelf. Despite some reservations about the former’s alcohol levels and ripeness in recent years, Marcel Richaud has often won this heart with the sheer depth of some great fruit turned into a rich, deeply flavoured mouthful. This one’s from a tricky hot year and neatly avoids overdoing it. Dry leathery skin flavours that seem almost Barossa like lead into still crunchy raspberry and cherry bright fruit. Maybe it’s the Carignan helping out the Grenache and Syrah with some good acidity? Real fruit weight, clean and naturally satisfying tannin and cut, honestly tasty. My visit on a atmospherically gloomy late afternoon in November interrupted the carving of a grand wheel of good Comte. Happy to stop and share warm thoughts about good bottles. Bonne adresse, as they Parisiens say. Delicatessen Cave, 136 rue Amelot 3er. Another visit please.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. 12 euros.

93 points.