Miscellaneous Northern Rhônes VI: Graillot, Gripa, Jamet, Marsanne, Nodin, Paris, Perret, Pierres Sèches/Gauthier, Romaneux-Destezet/Souhaut, Cave de Tain, Tunnel/Robert

Continuing yesterday’s post on Northern Rhônes recently tasted.

All wines below are reds except as otherwise noted.

Earlier reviews of Northern Rhônes are found here,  here herehere, here, and here


2014 Saint-Joseph
Graillot makes this wine from grapes that he purchases. It is a classic Saint-Joseph of the original (southern) portion of the appellation. The nose and mouth both show very attractive, mineral, stony dark plum fruits; the body is medium-weight, and there are some tannins here, but just for aging – they are not fierce enough to prevent current enjoyment of this wine. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L.5. 91(+)/A-

Bernard GRIPA

2014 Saint-Joseph
This wine shows attractive, earthy dark fruit aromas. The mouth is medium-weight, round, and smooth, although it is not as deep or concentrated as the 2013. There’s nice minerality here, and the wine should make a good accompaniment to meals over the next 5-10 years. Yet another success from one of the finest Saint-Joseph producers. 13.5% stated alcohol. Lot L114. 90/B+

Domaine JAMET/Corine, Jean-Paul & Loïc JAMET

2014 Côtes-du-Rhône  (white)
This wine ideally needs another year or two in bottle before it begins to drink at its peak, but one can already see the potential and the quality. The wine is about 55-60% Marsanne, 25-30% Vigonier, 10-20% Roussanne, and there may be a little Grenache Blanc in it, too. It shows great freshness and the acidity gives a grip and firmness to a smooth-textured wine with some generosity to its incipient apricot and lime fruit. Serve at cellar temperature and ideally decant. This can be served with fish or fowl in a cream sauce, with cheese, or a variety of other dishes. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot LRB14.       88+/B+

Jean-Claude MARSANNE

2014 Saint-Joseph
This wine is very good, very typical of the best Saint-Joseph sites around Tournon and Mauves, that is, the original appellation. It is medium-light, chiseled in texture, and the nose and mouth both show mineral, dark plum fruit that has good precision. You can drink the wine now, but it also has the balance to age gracefully for 6-8 years, maybe more. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot L 01.  90/B+


2014 Crozes-Hermitage   Le Mazel
This producer began producing on his own about 2008. The wine is somewhat modern in style, emphasizing monolithic dark fruits with a thick, tannic body. The wine shows more differentiation a few days after having been opened, so perhaps all that is needed is patience — I have no track record with this producer. 13% stated alcohol.  85(+?)/C

Vincent PARIS

2014 Saint-Joseph   Les Côtes
This wine is light, smooth, and fruity with spiced red plum aromas and flavors and not much in the way of tannin showing. It’s easy to drink young and I wouldn’t hold it more than 4-5 years. As a Côtes-du-Rhône, it would be a good wine; as a Saint-Joseph, it’s a little disappointing, especially given what Paris is able to produce from Cornas. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot L 1. 87/B-


2014 Saint-Joseph (white)
Perret is unusual, and to be positively recognized for making this wine from about half Roussanne (the other half is Marsanne) — the grape is difficult to grow in the Northern Rhône and many producers in the region these days only use Marsanne for their whites. The nose has stony and butter notes — one could easily think of a good Meursault-Perrières. The mouth is medium-weight and smooth, reflecting the low acidity of Northern Rhône whites, with lime elements and good length. It is one of those wines that shows strong versatility with food, and could easily go with pork or fowl, as well as all kinds of fish. 13% stated alcohol. Lot LSJB14.  91/A


2013 Saint-Joseph
Gauthier grew up in Lorraine, where his father was a vigneron. He studied in Burgundy and then worked first with Chapoutier in Tain l’Hermitage and Stephan Robert/Domaine du Tunnel in Saint-Péray. In 2007, he began his own estate in the hills west of Mauves, that is, the original part of Saint-Joseph. Unfortunately, I have no further background about vineyard exposition, soil type, age of vines, etc. There’s depth here and no shortage of tannin, but for the moment, this wine lacks expressiveness. It’s not bad, but not good, either. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L SJ13. 86/C


Souhaut is a longtime standard-bearer of the natural wine movement. The domaine began in 1993 and is certified organic. It consists of 5 ha near Tournon, the heart of the original Saint-Joseph appellation. Use of SO2 is minimal.
2012 Ardèche (white)
This vineyard is planted 70% in Viognier, 30% in Roussanne, two of the three principal white grapes of the Northern Rhône, but in different parts. The soils here are schist. The spiciness of Viognier has been tamed here and the wine is fresh, light, and oily with almond and apricot flavors and aromas. 12% stated alcohol.  87/B+

2015 Vin de France   La Souteronne
This wine is from Gamay vines that are 60-80 years-old grown on schist soils. The wine shows dark fruit and a light weight, but there was a little grittiness that detracted from a higher evaluation. 14% stated alcohol. Lot L 1. 85/B

2013 Saint-Joseph     Les Cessieux   (red)
The vines here largely date to 1988, planted by Souhaut’s father, who then rented them out to a tenant who was not organic in his practices. 2013 is the first vintage that Souhaut had the vines back, so the chemical treatments from the previous tenant were still around in the soils. The wine is light, even weightless, on the palate, but there is great density here. The wine is quite tannic, though, and I would recommend holding it for several years before drinking. 87(+)/B-

Cave de TAIN

2013 Saint-Joseph   vin biologique
The Cave de Tain is the largest cooperative in the Northern Rhône. Reacting to trends in France, it now offers its customers organic wines, as does another cooperative, the Cave des Clairmonts. What this wine and a Crozes-Hermitage from the Cave des Clairmonts that is not good enough to write up show is that organic wine can easily be mediocre or worse. This wine at least has some Saint-Joseph character with violets and dark berry fruit and some stoniness. But it lacks the depth, breadth, and complexity that can make Saint-Joseph outstanding, and in some instances even great. Certified organic. 13% stated alcohol. 85/C-

Domaine du TUNNEL/Stéphane ROBERT

2014 Saint-Joseph
This is not a bad wine, but at the same time, it doesn’t provide a real thrill that one can get from the best Saint-Josephs. Typical of the southern end of the appellation, this wine is rather thick with smoky dark fruit, resembling rather closely a Cornas. The wine drinks well now; it probably can go 10-15+ years without problem, but I’m not sure that there will be any improvement from the aging. Alas, this wine comes in one of those extra-large, super heavy bottles with a very deep punt; producers should let the wine do the talking for them, not the exterior bottle. 13% stated alcohol. Lot 1115.  87/B