• Côte Rôtie's Tiny Jewel: 2019 Chambeyron-Manin Côte Brune

    Côte Rôtie's Tiny Jewel: 2019 Chambeyron-Manin Côte Brune

    The secret is out on this tiny jewel of a domaine in Côte Rôtie. With less than 165 cases produced annually, Chambeyron-Manin is small-production on a wildly different scale. They farm just 0.5 hectares of a rare clone of Syrah named Serine in the decomposed granite, iron-rich soils of the Côte Brune.

    Chambeyron-Manin's expression of Serine harnesses the dark and feral characteristics of the Côte Brune, featuring smoke, bacon fat, crushed rocks, dark plum, black pepper, and black olive notes. Even with all the brawn and scorched earth elements, it's still the violet and lavender that speaks to this slice of the most sensual Syrah on the globe.

    Like many domaines here, the Chambeyron-Manin family has historically produced and sold meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The minuscule plot of vines they have, located behind their home, only supplement their main work operating Les Jardins de la Côte-Rôtie. 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. Alas, half a hectare is all there is, and I'm so fortunate to have been introduced to this tiny jewel.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Hauntingly Pure and Precise Côte-Rôtie

    Hauntingly Pure and Precise Côte-Rôtie

    With only 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 2017 Famille Levet Les Journaries and La Chavaroche Côte Rôties.

    Levet has been the standard-bearer for ultra-traditional Côte Rôtie since Neal Rosenthal began importing the wines in the early '80s. 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; it's known for its vivid, explosive violet tones, bacon fat, smoke, black pepper, with a pulverized granitic streak that carries through the long finish.

    Levet offers the best opportunity for long, slow evolution in bottle of any Côte Rôtie traditionalist. Levet's Cote Roties are fermented with 100% whole clusters and go through a three-year aging regimen in foudre, demi-muid, and smaller barrels.

    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.

    Posted by Max Kogod