"With a mere three and a half hectares of vines, all of them in Côte-Rôtie, the Levets' wines will never be especially easy to find, but they have become a beacon for fans of traditional renditions of the appellation."   - Josh Reynolds of Vinous (April 2017)
At around around 1,000 cases produced annually, Famille Levet is one of Côte Rôtie's most fervent traditionalists and smallest domaines. While my love of Northern Rhone Syrah veers heavily toward the most old-school and authentic interpretations of terroir, Levet is almost in a category unto itself.

Today, I'm happy to offer the top 2016 Côte Rôtie from Bernard Levet, La Chavaroche, sourced from a 1.4 hectare portion within the Côte Brune.

Levet has been the standard bearer for ultra-traditional Côte Rôtie since Neal Rosenthal began importing the wines in the early 80's. Rosenthal's words on Bernard and Nicole Levet have always stuck with me, declaring these the best and most carefully tended to vines in his iconic portfolio, one filled with names like Fourrier, Jacques Carillon, and Paolo Bea.

Indeed, the magic of Levet is derived from the unadulterated raw material from these treacherously steep terraced granite slopes. Levet works with the oval-shaped Serine, a genetic variation of Syrah more common in Côte Rôtie - known for its vivid, explosive violet tones, bacon fat, smoke, black pepper, with a pulverized granitic streak that carries through the long finish.

2016 is a vintage in the Northern Rhône with clarity and site reflection front and center, still with ample forward ripeness. Coming off the bombastic 2015 you can expect the 2016 Chavaroche to have a more tightly coiled energetic personality, bursting with intense red and black fruit tones from this tiny 1.4 hectare parcel of Serine vines. 

Levet offers the best opportunity for long, slow evolution in bottle of any Côte Rôtie traditionalist. La Chavaroche is fermented with 100% whole clusters and goes through a three year aging regimen in 
foudre, demi-muid, and smaller barrel. 

At the cooler, northernmost stretches of the Rhone Valley, Côte Rôtie is where we find Syrah at its most hauntingly pure and precise. It's these characteristics that have long turned the eyes of Burgundy collectors south with this kinship. And for those who favor Burgundy, the wines of Bernard Levet are the first stop on the stylistic shift into the Northern Rhone. 

"Inky, vivid purple. Highly perfumed, mineral-laced black and blue fruit, violet, smoked meat and incense qualities on the nose. Fleshy, sweet and expansive on the palate, offering densely packed yet surprisingly lively boysenberry, candied licorice, spicecake and violet flavors enlivened by an undercurrent of juicy acidity. Deftly blends richness and finesse and finishes extremely long and youthfully tannic, leaving floral pastille, star anise and dark berry liqueur notes behind."
 - Josh Reynolds of Vinous (June 2018)