Recently Tasted Northern Rhônes VII -- Barge, Barou, Beceras/Prieuré d'Arras, Chapoutier, Darnaud, Gonon, Jamet, Lionnet, Monier-Perréol, Nodin, Texier, Verzier/Chante Perdrix

We’ve had a string of very good vintages in the Northern Rhône, but as this selection of wines shows, it’s the producer that counts more than the appellation or the vintage. There are some very good wines here, some that are okay for drinking but not worth going out of the way for, and some that I, at least, find greatly unlikable. 

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

Gilles BARGE
2014 Côte-Rôtie   Le Combard
This is very fine Côte-Rôtie with dark fruit and bacon aromas and flavors. The wine is medium-weight and smooth with plenty of finesse to it. The wine drinks very well already and should continue to improve for several years. 92% Syrah, 8% Viognier here. 12.5% stated alcohol. 92/A

Domaine BAROU
2014 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes    Syrah   Petit Colorado
There’s quite a bit of reduction in this wine and it doesn’t seem to resolve itself, even the day after being opened. Aside from that, the wine is medium-light in body with spicy red and dark fruits.  85?/B-

2012 Saint-Joseph (red)
Still tannic, this wine nevertheless holds promise with its firm, stony texture and deep red fruits in a medium-light body. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L N260. 87(+)/B

2014 Saint-Joseph (red)
This is just the plain negociant Saint-Jo from Chapoutier. Nothing special, but at a favorable price, it does show the character of the appellation (around Tournon) with mineral red fruits and some stoniness to its texture. The body is medium-weight and the acidity is good enough to hold everything together. Good for drinking over the next few years. 13.0% stated alcohol. 86/B-

Emmanuel DARNAUD
Darnaud is the son-in-law of Bernard Faurie, the topflight Hermitage and Saint-Joseph producer, and from what I hear, Darnaud will take over the Faurie estate when Bernard retires. These are very good wines worthy of your interest, should you come across them.

2014 Crozes-Hermitage    Les Trois Chênes   (red)
This is Darnaud’s superior Crozes-Hermitage cuvée. The wine is medium-full, dense, and concentrated with blackberry and spiced plum aromas and flavors. Although it can be drunk with pleasure now, I imagine it will be even better with a few years’ cellaring. 13% stated alcohol. Lot 1.   90/A

2014 Crozes-Hermitage      Mise en Bouche   (red)
This is satisfying Crozes-Hermitage. It has slightly smoky dark fruit in a medium-full body and there is a little rusticity here. It probably is best drunk over the next few years. 13% stated alcohol.  Lot 1. 87/B

2014 Saint-Joseph   (red)
This is good, typical Saint-Joseph from around Tournon, that is, the heart of the original appellation. The wine has red fruits with minerality, stoniness,s and firmness of texture in a medium-weight body. There’s excellent energy here.  Good for drinking now. I have no experience with this wine from past vintages, but I would expect it to drink well for a decade or so. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L 1.  91/A

Pierre GONON
2014 Vin de France   Chasselas
Chasselas has a reputation as a trash grape. It was once widely planted in Alsace, but now what’s left only goes into Zwicker or sparkling wine. It was once the dominant grape of Pouilly-Fumé (but the secret is that there still is some Chasselas there). And in Savoie it can produce good wines, such as Château de Ripaille that I sometimes review. Add to that the production by master producers such as the Gonon brothers, and you have something very special. This wine has richness and breadth and a sweetness that seems to come all or mostly from the fruit. Speaking of the fruit, it is golden apple with a touch of pineapple and there are some honey overtones. The wine is medium-weight and has creaminess to the texture, all while remaining very fresh. The vines here are on the slopes of Saint-Jean de Muzols and date to the 1920s. Organic production. 11.5% stated alcohol. 91/A+

Corinne, Jean-Paul & Loïc JAMET
2014 Côte-Rôtie     Fructus Voluptas
This is the early-drinking Côte-Rôtie cuvée, begun by Jamet in 2008. The wine is entirely from Syrah (no Viognier). It’s fairly standard, Côte-Rôtie with dark plum fruit, some spice, and not much in the way of depth, density, or complexity. Nothing wrong, but it lacks the magic that other Jamet wines can have. 12.5% stated alcohol. 88/B-

2014 Saint-Joseph   Terre Neuve    (red)
The vines here are young, all dating from 2008 or later. This is old-fashioned wine with density and concentration. But there’s not much differentiation here for now. The wine shows some tannins and red cherry and raspberry fruit. If you have some, my guess is hold this wine another 10-15 years. Certified organic. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L 01. 86(+?)/B-

2014 Saint-Joseph    (red)
This estate apparently uses all three labels above, but officially it is Domaine Monier-Perrérol. Jean-Pierre Monier and Philippe Perréol are the names of the individuals producing the wines. The estate is certified both for organic and biodynamic wines and located near Saint-Désirat, the part of the Saint-Joseph appellation where no one knows for sure if superior wine can be made: based on this and some earlier wines, I would say it’s looking like yes. This wine is round and sensual with violets and spiced dark plum and cherry fruit. There’s no great complexity here, but it is nevertheless a wine of great pleasure. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot 14/01. 87/B

2014 Cornas   Les Eygats
Extracted and grapy with imprecise, herbal dark fruit, this wine offers little Cornas character and essentially nothing of interest, especially at the price. Over several days, some violets come out, but still, this wine isn’t more than an adequate Côtes-du-Rhône. It’s not a question of this bottle or bottling, as other wines I’ve had from this producer have also been unimpressive. 12.5% stated alcohol.   85(+?)/D

Domaine du PAVILLON/Stéphane CORNU
2013 Crozes-Hermitage    (red)
Even as a Côtes-du-Rhône, I would find this wine hard to take. It’s medium-weight without much acidic support and the flavors are very muddy. The fact that the back label claims more than ten years of organic cultivation can’t cover for the mediocrity of what’s been produced. 13% stated alcohol. Lot B08/01. 83/F

2013 Brézème  Côtes-du-Rhône  Domaine de Pergaud   vieille Roussette
Half this white wine went through a six month maceration in tinajas (porous ceramic vessels) and then was put in with the rest of the wine for a further twelve months in old barrels before bottling. The tinajas technique apparently comes from Elisabetta Foradori in northeast Italy. This wine is spicy with a ripe, dense texture and very ripe apricot fruit. All that would be too much were it not for the excellent supporting acidity to keep things lively. It’s probably not a wine for serving on its own, but for white meats and fish in cream sauce, as well as cheeses, it should do quite well. Not indicated on the bottle, but Texier operates organically. 12.5% stated alcohol.  91/A

2014 Saint-Joseph   Empreinte    (red)

This estate, now known as Vignobles Verzier, formerly was known as Domaine de Chante Perdrix; Philippe Verzier is the principal. The vines are from the northern part of the appellation and really should have a different name, as the wines there resemble Côte-Rôtie more closely than they do the Saint-Joseph from the area further south, around Tournon. This wine is medium-weight with violets, dark fruits, and minerality, although complexity is not marked. Still, good value for the money. Certified organic. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot L36014.  87/B