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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jancis Robinson’s vintage reports for the Rhône in 2015 said Syrah was particularly good in the south and they were dead right on the evidence of this 50/50 blend with Grenache. Rounded delicious smells of violets, smoke and ripe raspberries and blackberries, all very reminiscent of a ripe Syrah from a bit further north. Clean mouthful of smoky dark berries, spice and well settled acidity, backed up by firm ripe skin tannins. A little bit washy through the finish but for a bargain from the shelves of Franprix, it’s astonishingly good. Beautifully made and consistent over two or was it three bottles? One seemed to end up in the basket at checkout whenever milk was the main purpose of a Franprix adventure.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. Absolute bargain territory, 8 euros!
There seems to be an increasing number of bio or organic wines on French supermarché shelves including this one from Monoprix for less than 8 euros. Sometimes Grenache seems at its most delicious when it’s only just been in a bottle for a few months. This is all clean, pungent and musky red fruit in a good way with oodles of spice and flowers. Sort of thing you’d love in a carafe in one of those imaginary Gallic bistros. Actually improved over 24 hours, beyond which it wasn’t going to last. Sweet Grenache given legs and some depth by the usual suspects of Syrah and Mourvèdre. Looks like it may be an own brand bottling as there’s not much more info available than what’s on the label. Makes trudging round the stupor market almost a pleasure.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. 8 euros.