• From the margins of Saint Joseph

    From the margins of Saint Joseph

    “The first time I tried Hervé Souhaut’s Syrah. It was one of my many awakenings to natural wine, and I remember grinning ear to ear and saying, ‘What is it that I am feeling/tasting/experiencing? Why am I so happy?!’” — Jenny Lefcourt, Importer

    Though it’s a half-hour drive from St.-Jean de Muzols to Northern Ardèche, the craggy landscape makes Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet feel like it’s on the outskirts of Saint-Joseph, and the wines take on a similar lone-wolf character. Naturalist icon, Hervé Souhaut, was influenced early on by friends Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais and Philippe Pacalet in Burgundy. He’s become a crowd favorite for his approachable, idiosyncratic Northern Rhône Syrah and Gamay.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2019 Hervé Souhaut Syrah and La Souteronne Gamay, with rare back-vintages to 2005.

    In the early 90s, Hervé and his wife, Béatrice, inherited a 16th-century fortified farmhouse surrounded by old-vine Rhône varieties and Gamay. Hervé turned to his friends Lapierre and Pacalet for guidance and adopted their practices; he farms according to organic and biodynamic principles and, in the cellar, works entirely with whole clusters, semi-carbonic maceration, and minimal sulfur. He delicately extracts the grapes to make wines with subtlety and finesse. 

    In Ardèche, La Souteronne Gamay comes from 60-to-80-year-old vines, and "Syrah" taps vines 10-to-100-yrs-old. The schist of Hervé's home is unlike anything in Saint-Joseph, with its sand-like granular texture falling through your hands. And, the Saint Epine Syrah comes from 100-plus-year-old vines in St.-Jean de Muzols.

    All of the reds undergo long macerations at low temperatures. They're then fermented in wooden tanks and aged in old oak casks on fine lees for a minimum of eight months. Bottled with no filtration and 25ppm of sulphur.

    What Hervé produces is still unashamedly Syrah, but it's shed some of its uptight inhibition. The 2019 Syrah is soft and generous, with varied hues of red fruit that interplay with cowhide, red dust, and velvety tannins. Sainte Epine is a bit more serious, though still lively as ever, and it's known for its bluer, brambly fruit, violet tones, and mineral streak. The region’s cool, rainy climate ensures their freshness over time; with some age, the grip and snap of acidity is toned down, and the fruit melds with more earth and funk.

    “There’s Gamay in the Rhône?” I asked my colleague, Marc, when he poured the 2019 La Souteronne. “Beaujolais isn’t too far,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. He’s right. Actually, it’s a mere 60 km from Beaujolais to the French capital of Syrah. Wine writer Jon Bonné wrote that La Souteronne “remains a benchmark for not-Beaujolais Gamay,” just with an inflection of Rhône. The 2019 French Gamays I’ve had thus far have collectively shown a calm and collected gracefulness, and La Souteronne is no different.

    Posted by Sydney Love
  • No Stone Unturned:  2015 & 2016 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph

    No Stone Unturned: 2015 & 2016 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph

    Since 1481, there have been 16 generations of unbroken lineage at the Chave estate along the Rhone River's towering granite slopes. When we look closely at the birthplace of Syrah there's no name more respected than that of Jean-Louis Chave.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 & 2016 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph, along with back-vintage Hermitage Rouge and Blanc stretching through 1985.

    Chave's Saint Joseph captures everything that thrills the senses from Northern Rhone Syrah, while offering an immediacy and generosity upon release that Hermitage simply cannot. Each vintage flaunts a huge spectrum of black, blue, and red fruits. Spices range from exotic Indian to cracked black pepper. And the tell-tale notes of violets, olive tapenade, and roasted meats are always on full display.

    However, it's the underlying mineral component from these granite terraced slopes serving as the backbone of Chave's wines. It's this definition that allows the wines to age effortlessly, and makes reaching for another sip habitual. Examples of the Saint Joseph from the late 1990's have floored me for their sense of vivacity, freshness, and still-present regal structure.

    Jean-Louis Chave joined his father Gérard in 1992, following his studies in Enology at UC Davis. Once home, he undertook his primary mission of re-planting the steep slopes of Saint Joseph, as his ancestors had done centuries ago. In fact, it was precisely on this hillside that the domaine officially started in 1481. These vineyards had remained fallow since phylloxera decimated vineyards throughout France in the late 19th century.

    Along with carrying on the tradition of producing the the iconic Hermitage bottlings, Jean-Louis knew that these treacherously steep hillsides in Saint Joseph were capable of producing magnificent wines, and offered a value to consumers that Hermitage could not. 25 years have now passed since these terraces began to be re-built by hand, and vines have been re-planted among the traditional échalas stakes. Today, the results are stunning wines that remind us the root of all success in the Rhone comes from hands-on work and fastidious attention to detail, something the Chave family has personified for hundreds of years.

    Since the Saint Joseph appellation was officially given AOC status in 1956 the boundaries have expanded immensely. It's these choice parcels that represent the best and most serious terroir for the zone. Slopes that the Chave's knew were capable of producing intensely concentrated, structured, and age-worthy Syrah. Land where machines were incapable of working, as everything must be done entirely by hand. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Syrah's Top Value on the Globe:  2017 Faury Saint Joseph Vielles Vignes

    Syrah's Top Value on the Globe: 2017 Faury Saint Joseph Vielles Vignes

    Death, Taxes, & Faury Saint Joseph Vieilles Vignes.

    There are guarantees in life. Each year, Domaine Faury produces the single greatest value Syrah on earth: their Saint Joseph Vieilles Vignes, from vines planted in 1937.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 vintage for $46 per bottle. 

    For years I've made it no secret that this is the one bottle within the entire Northern Rhone Valley that demands everyone's first look. The value is simply unmatched. While other champions of Saint Joseph like Gonon and Chave are tipping over $100 per bottle, it only highlights the need to find equally compelling examples that deliver exceptional value. While these two names see prices increase drastically vintage after vintage, it's calming to know that Faury's cuvée featuring a selection of old vines still remains well under $50.

    In 2017, the Northern Rhône saw temperatures that surpassed 2015's, and the style of the wines are much more forward and open-knit in personality. While the VV will reveal many new layers during a recommended decant, the hallmark notes are even more obvious upon first pour than is customary. Olive tapenade, smoke, black pepper, and violets meet the tell-tale blackberry fruit. 2017 is simply a beast of a vintage for N. Rhône Syrah.

    Philippe Faury first took control of the domaine in 1979, a time when peach and cherry production was more common from these vignerons. That year marked a shift toward a newfound vineyard-first focus at the estate. New parcels were purchased on the steeply terraced granite vineyards of Côte Rôtie, Saint Joseph, and Condrieu. Today, Philippe works alongside his son Lionel who took the reigns in 2006. 

    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Northern Rhône Syrah: There Will Be Scrolling

    Northern Rhône Syrah: There Will Be Scrolling

    Today's list is deep on the main appellations of the Northern Rhône Valley. If you're crazy for Syrah like me, you'll find something to hit every mark and every occasion. Supreme values like Xavier Gerard's Côte Rôtie is still gaining traction in the US as a new import. Hervé Souhaut and Jean-Michel Stephan approach Syrah like their mentor Marcel Lapierre did Gamay. And, old gems turned new with 1991 Gentaz-Dervieux Côte Rôtie and now 2016 Hommage à Gentaz-Dervieux from Rene Rostaing.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • 2015 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph: No Stone Unturned

    2015 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph: No Stone Unturned

    Since 1481, there have been 16 generations of unbroken lineage at the Chave estate along the Rhone River's towering granite slopes. When we look closely at the birthplace of Syrah there's no name more respected than that of Jean-Louis Chave.

    Today, I'm very happy to offer the brand new release of Domaine Chave's 2015 Saint Joseph.

    Additionally, this offer covers vintages 1998, 1999, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013.


    Chave's Saint Joseph captures everything that thrills the senses from Northern Rhone Syrah, while offering an immediacy and generosity upon release that Hermitage simply cannot. Each vintage flaunts a huge spectrum of black, blue, and red fruits. Spices range from exotic Indian to cracked black pepper. And the tell-tale notes of violets, olive tapenade, and roasted meats are always on full display.

    However, it's the underlying mineral component from these granite terraced slopes serving as the backbone of Chave's wines. It's this definition that allows the wines to age effortlessly, and makes reaching for another sip habitual. Examples of the Saint Joseph from the late 1990's have floored me for their sense of vivacity, freshness, and still-present regal structure - Both 1998 and 1999 vintages offered today are in a magical spot.

    Jean-Louis Chave joined his father Gérard in 1992, following his studies in Enology at UC Davis. Once home, he undertook his primary mission of re-planting the steep slopes of Saint Joseph, as his ancestors had done centuries ago. In fact, it was precisely on this hillside that the domaine officially started in 1481. These vineyards had remained fallow since phylloxera decimated vineyards throughout France in the late 19th century.

    Along with carrying on the tradition of producing the the iconic Hermitage bottlings, Jean-Louis knew that these treacherously steep hillsides in Saint Joseph were capable of producing magnificent wines, and offered a value to consumers that Hermitage could not. 25 years have now passed since these terraces began to be re-built by hand, and vines have been re-planted among the traditional échalas stakes. Today, the results are stunning wines that remind us the root of all success in the Rhone comes from hands-on work and fastidious attention to detail, something the Chave family has personified for hundreds of years.

    Since the Saint Joseph appellation was officially given AOC status in 1956 the boundaries have expanded immensely. It's these choice parcels that represent the best and most serious terroir for the zone. Slopes that the Chave's knew were capable of producing intensely concentrated, structured, and age-worthy Syrah. Land where machines were incapable of working, as everything must be done entirely by hand. 


    2015 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph
    $89 per bottle.

    2013 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph
    $79 per bottle.

    2011 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph 
    $79 per bottle.

    2010 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph 
    $89 per bottle.


    2009 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph 
    $89 per bottle.

    1999 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph 
    $179 per bottle.

    1998 Domaine Chave Saint Joseph 
    $179 per bottle.


    1985 Chave Hermitage Blanc 
    $459 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod