Northern Rhône Wines Recently Tasted Part VIII: Entrefaux/Tardy, Faurie, Faury, Gonon, Graillot, Levet, Marsanne, Paillard/Vignes des Pères, Perret Saint-Clair/Basset, Souiillard

Conventional wisdom is that 2014 is a problem vintage and 2015 is a great vintage in the region. As usual, conventional wisdom misses the true story.

There’s plenty of good 2014 around, although one wants to be careful, as always, in choosing producers. As for 2015, it has a rich style with moderate acidity, but with the wrong producers, those factors can get out of hand and the wines can become unbalanced.

Earlier reviews of Northern Rhônes are here, here here,  here hereherehere, and here 

All wines below are red, except as specifically noted otherwise.

Domaine des ENTREFAUX/Charles & François TARDY

2015 Crozes-Hermitage
Tardy has long been a reliable and well-priced producer of Crozes-Hermitage. This wine is quite concentrated, which seems to be a characteristic of the 2015 vintage in the area. The acidity is moderate, but not deficient, and the wine has dark Syrah fruit plus some minerality and quite a bit of elegance to it. Some more time in bottle should only improve the wine still further. Certified organic. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L 05. 87(+)/B

Bernard FAURIE

2014 Hermitage   cream capsule
Possibly my first choice for Hermitage these days, Faurie makes this wine (as indicated from the cream capsule) from vines in the Greffieux and Bessards lieux-dits. The vines are about 100 years-old. There’s depth, spice, and elegance to the berry fruit and good structure letting you know it’s Hermitage. That said, the tannins are ripe enough so that with a good decant (say, an hour or two), the wine can be drunk now with a meal. 13.5% stated alcohol. Lot L16097.  93/A-

Lionel FAURY

2015 Saint-Joseph (white)
A mixture of Marsanne and Roussanne that is not constant from year to year, this wine shows good minerality with apricot flavors and aromas and some creaminess to the texture. The wine has good clarity and acidic support and should be an excellent match for seafood, fowl, and cheese. 13% stated alcohol.  89(+)/B+

2015 Vin des Collines Rhodaniennes     Syrah
From this highly-reputed vintage, this wine, which usually is good, is just standard with a velvet texture and rather undifferentiated, dull dark fruits. 12% stated alcohol. 84(+?)/D

Pierre GONON

Certified organic.

2015 Saint-Joseph     Les Oliviers   (white)
This is classic Northern Rhône white, perhaps more Hermitage than Saint-Joseph with its rich, oily texture and moderate acidity to go with incipient, spicy apricot fruit. This wine should age well for 8-10 years, at least (depending on how you like your white Rhônes), but is very drinkable now. 14% stated alcohol.  90(+)/A-

2015 Vin de Pays de l’Ardèche     Les Îles Feray 
Here’s everything about the 2015 vintage put in its best way. The wine has dark, almost roasted, dark fruits, a satiny texture, and low — but not deficient — acidity. The fruit and low acidity manage to overcome the tannin, at least for the moment. It’s great for drinking now and should age well for 8-10 years, at least, quite probably more. 13.5% stated alcohol.  91/A+

2015 Saint-Joseph 
With this vintage, the difference of terroirs is perhaps less marked than in others. The Îles Feray is similar in its aroma and flavor profile but more rustic and powerful than this Saint-Joseph. As a result, that may make the former preferable to certain palates, but the Saint-Joseph is the finer wine and with aging will show its class. Should you be fortunate enough to have access to both, I’d purchase both and drink the Îles Feray young and age the Saint-Joseph. 13.5% stated alcohol. 93/A


2015 Crozes-Hermitage (white)
Graillot’s white Crozes is much less come across than the red, but is equally worth your jumping on should you come across it, especially in 2015. The wine is silky in texture with honey and lemon aromas and flavors and lightness on the palate. 80% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne, fermented in barrel. I think best drunk within 4-5 years, but who knows, especially with screw-cap bottling. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L3.  91/A

2015 Crozes-Hermitage
Typical of the vintage, Graillot’s Crozes-Hermitage is moderate in acidity and very ripe. The wine shows great weight and concentration while still retaining elegance. The fruit is quite dark and just short of roasted. For now the wine lacks precision, though. There are substantial tannins here, but they are round, so one should be able to enjoy this wine young, but it also should age well for 15+ years. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L 3. 90/A

Vignobles LEVET

Levet’s wines take quite a while to mature, so these are not wines to open and pour today (although a decanting several hours in advance of serving might well work if served with food to absorb the tannins). You’ll find no better vegetal material in the Rhône than at Levet — all pure, old-vine Sérine (the original grape of Côte-Rôtie). 

2013 Côte-Rôtie    La Chavaroche/La Péroline
La Chavaroche is the name of the lieu-dit on the Côte Brune from which this wine comes; in some markets, this wine goes under the name La Péroline. From vines more than 40 years-old planted in Sérine, the great and traditional grape of Côte-Rôtie. This wine is deep, intense, and balanced with with spicy purple fruits and the tannin and structure one can expect from the Côte Brune. Give the wine another 5-8 years in the cellar and you should have a gem. Lot L143. 12.5% stated alcohol. 93(+)/A

2013 Côte-Rôtie    Les Journaries/Maestra
Located in the La Landonne lieu-dit, this wine is sold as Les Journaries in the United States, as Maestra in most other markets. There’s great finesse along with some La Landonne earthiness; the tannins are hard at first but round out with airing. Dense, concentrated, and pure, this is the real thing for Côte-Rôtie. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot L 153. 93+A

Jean-Claude MARSANNE

2015 Saint-Joseph
This estate in Mauves, part of the original Saint-Joseph appellation, has in recent years produced quite reliable wines. The wine is quite typical of 2015 with its density and concentration to go with moderate acidity. The dark fruit is smoky and roasted but in no way distorted. Although you can drink it now, I’d suggest cellaring for 5-10 years. Lot L 01. 13.5% stated alcohol. 90(+)/A-


2014 Saint-Joseph   Petit Père
Paillard established his cellar in Tournon in 2011. 2014 is the first vintage he began working organically. The vines are located in Sarras, that sector in the middle of Saint-Joseph that until fairly recently was anonymous, and so where we’re still trying to get a bead on exactly how much potential is there. This wine is smooth with plum and raspberry fruit and some aspects that many might accuse of being from oak, but in fact, I believe, are from the whole cluster fermentation that Paillard uses. Also as a result of that use, the wine has an unusual combination of finesse with a tannic texture. The wine has excellent density and depth. Give this wine 5-7 years in the cellar and I think you may have a real gem. 12% stated alcohol.  88+/B


2014 Saint-Joseph
This wine shows the spicy/floral dark fruits typical of the northern part of the Saint-Joseph appellation, and similar to what one finds in many Côte-Rôties. The wine is medium-weight and shows some density, but it needs more time to come together. Acidity seems moderate, giving a smooth texture. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot SJR14. 86+/B-

2014 Saint-Joseph    Les Grisières
I often prefer the regular Saint-Joseph to the more expensive Grisières, but in this vintage that’s not the case. This wine is silky with dark fruits and good depth. It still needs a little time in bottle to come together fully, but it can be drunk already. Yes, one can find a little new oak here if one is looking for it, but it should blend with further bottle age. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot LSJG14. 89+/B+


2015 Crozes-Hermitage     Étincelle
Basset is one of the new quality producers coming out for Crozes-Hermitage. This wine shows a smoky, roasted nose. The mouth is medium-full and velvety with intense, deep, dark fruit, good penetration, and plenty of length. Perhaps it will develop further with age, but it’s so delicious now, why wait? 13.5% stated alcohol. Lot L.0.1.2015.  91/A

Jean-Baptiste SOUILLARD

2014 Saint-Joseph
Souillard is a new micro-négociant, with 2014 apparently being the first vintage for his wines. This wine is full-bodied and smooth with dark plum fruit, but not much differentiation. 12.5% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: L01014. 86(+?)/B-