At under 165 cases produced annually the Chambeyron-Manin domaine is small-production on a wildly different scale. They farm just 1/2 a hectare of a rare clone of Syrah named Serine in the decomposed granite, iron rich soils of the Côte Brune. While Côte Rôtie is the most seductive end of the Northern Rhone Valley, the Chambeyron's expression of Serine harnesses the dark and feral characteristics of the Côte Brune.With all the brawn and scorched earth elements of this combo it's still the violet and lavender that still speaks to this slice of the most sensual Syrah on the globe.

I had thought visiting the Calmont vineyard in Mosel's Bremm would surely be the most jaw-dropping site of my wine travels, it being the world's steepest. But, when I descended into Ampuis, driving along the Rhone river and gazing up I realized this was a different animal. Immediately visualizing the hand-only work required on these towering terraces that stretched completely vertical from the river to the clouds brought on a sense of anxiety. Something like when Chief Brody saw that shark up close for the first time at the back of the boat. 

The Chambeyron's, like many families historically here, sell meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The minuscule plot of vines they have just behind their home only supplement their "main" work operating their Les Jardins de la Côte-Rôtie market. Tasting their wine for the first time it's hard to imagine they would devote their lives to anything except ramping up production and getting it into as many hands as possible. But, alas, half a hectare is what it is, and I'm just so fortunate to have been introduced.Today's offer features the only wines listed in the US.

The dark expression of Serine and the Côte Brune feature smoke, bacon fat, crushed rocks, dark plum, black pepper, and black olive notes with the vivid tell-tale florality that separate Côte Rôtie from its southern neighbors. We've highlighted two vintages in today's offer.

2012 has endowed the wines here with a welcomed approachability that is very rare - soft, inviting fruit met with a lot of depth and power. 

2012 Chambeyron-Manin Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune
$68 per bottle.