Recent Red Northern Rhônes III -- Balthazar, Faury, Gripa, Perreol/Monier-Pereol/Monier, Saint-Clair/Baset, Texier

The current vintages in the market and coming to market – 2012, 2013, and 2014 promise excellent wines. The most interesting appellation right now, for me, is Saint-Joseph, both for the value and for the quality of the best wines. And surprise, there are more good wines coming out of Crozes-Hermitage than ever before.

Earlier reviews of Northern Rhônes are found herehere, and here


2012 Cornas    cuvée casimir balthazar
This is the young vine cuvée from Balthazar. From the excellent 2012 vintage, it is features dark plum fruit that is intense and concentrated, a smooth texture, and elegance on the palate – making for a wine that drinks well now but that should be able to age well for at least 10-15 years. 13% stated alcohol. 91/A-

Lionel FAURY (formerly Philippe FAURY)

Faury is in the northern part of the Saint-Joseph appellation, so the wines are spicier and less tannic than those in the heart of Saint-Joseph, and the resemblance to nearby Côte-Rôtie sometimes is uncanny.

2013 Saint-Joseph
This wine is smooth and dense with low acidity and plenty of delicious, if relatively simple, spicy violets and black fruits. This is the kind of wine you’d like to find in your local bistro (without too much of a markup). I’d drink it over the next five years or so. 13% stated alcohol. 88/B

2013 Saint-Joseph   vieilles vignes
Here we still have the low acidity, but this wine is much denser and tighter with some grip and greater depth to the black cherry fruit. You can drink the wine now, but I think the evolution over 10-15 years could be quite profound. 13% stated alcohol. 91/A

Bernard GRIPA

2012 Saint-Joseph
This wine is quite undeveloped, even at three years of age, but there is promise here. The fruit is dark, deep, and classic Syrah from the Northern Rhône. The wine is medium-full and the tannins are round. Typical of Gripa’s style, there’s finesse here. But the complexity has yet to come forth, the intensity of the fruit notwithstanding. For optimal drinking, I’d expect to hold this wine for another 6-7 years, at least. 13.5% stated alcohol. Lot L112. 89+/B+


2013 Saint-Joseph   châtelet
This estate apparently uses all three labels above, but officially it is Domaine Perréol-Monier. The note here is written for a wine under the Domaine Perréol label. Jean-Pierre Monier and Philippe Perréol are the names of the individuals producing the wines, and the estate is certified both for organic and biodynamic wines. It is located near Saint-Déserat, the part of the Saint-Joseph appellation where no one knows for sure if superior wine can be made. Based on this one, I would say yes (I’ve had problems with some of the wines from several years ago, I think they may have been unsulfured at the time? – and then there was a gap when I didn’t taste them).  This wine is pure and deep with dark plum fruit, a medium-weight body, some tannin and firmness, smoothness of texture, and some freshness. You can drink this wine now and I imagine it should age well for at least fifteen years. This is from a vineyard with granite and loess soils and vines that are about 15 years old. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot 13/13. 89/B+


2012 Crozes-Hermitage    étincelle    (red)
Basset began bottling his own wine in 2007. He makes four wines: a white Crozes-Hermitage, a red Saint-Joseph, a red Crozes-Hermitage intended for aging more than eight years, and this bottling, intended for aging 4-8 years. Viticultural practices are lutte raisonnée (essentially, organic, but reserving the right to intervene if organic solutions don’t work). This is very good everyday Crozes-Hermitage. It does not move into the extraordinary territory that a handful of wines occupy, but it is not intended to do so. The wine is smooth and full-bodied with dark berry and plum fruit with some minerality to it. It is a very pleasing wine and good value at its price point. 13% stated alcohol. 88/B+


2013 Brézème   Côtes-du-Rhône
Texier has long been a favorite of mine, but this wine, while not at all bad, is below his usual standard. This wine is from Syrah that is still fairly young (about 15 years’ old according to Texier’s website) in Brézème, the most southerly of Northern Rhône locations, a bit more than 10 miles south of Valence. The wine has dark plum fruit in the nose and mouth and a hint of minerality, but the acidity is moderate and the wine lacks the grip and depth of other vintages. Certified organic. 12% stated alcohol. 87/B