• 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
  • 2016 Côte Brune Gold Rewind:  Chambeyron 0.5 Hectares of Côte Rôtie

    2016 Côte Brune Gold Rewind: Chambeyron 0.5 Hectares of Côte Rôtie

    Of all the discoveries for the shop there's none that have captured my attention more than the Côte Rôtie of Chambeyron-Manin. The secret is out on this tiny jewel of a domaine. At under 165 cases produced annually the Chambeyron-Manin domaine is small-production on a wildly different scale. They farm just a 0.5 hectare of a rare clone of Syrah named Serine in the decomposed granite, iron rich soils of the Côte Brune. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Chambeyron-Manin Côte Rôtie Côte Brune in both 750ml and magnums.

    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 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 hands-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-Manin family historically, like many 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-Rôtiemarket. 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. 

    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. I'm always on the hunt for more bottles from this domaine's current release, but finding wines with bottle age was a huge surprise.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Serine Serenade:   Clusel-Roch Côte Rôtie Les Grandes Places

    Serine Serenade: Clusel-Roch Côte Rôtie Les Grandes Places

    Visit any cellar filled with Northern Rhone greats like Jamet and Chave, you're likely to find a small amount of Domaine Clusel-Roch. At 3.5 hectares. small is the critical factor as to why the domaine's wines are scarcely found. But, in quality they sit atop the scale of Northern Rhone Syrah. The highlight of their range is the Les Grandes Places, sourced from 1935-planted Serine vines.

    Today, I'm happy to offer for 2012 Clusel-Roch Côte Rôtie Les Grandes Places for the lowest price in the U.S., and the 2010 Côte Rôtie, the only listing in the world.


    The small berries found in bunches of Serine planted in Côte Rôtie produce wines of both immense concentration and intense perfume. Just one hectare of 84-yr-old Serine planted on iron and mica-schist form the foundation of Les Grandes Places. Looking at Clusel-Roch's tête de cuvée, one might expect a powerhouse wine as compared to their others, however it's truly the vivid floral and secondary traits that make this wine one of most celebrated of the Rhône. 

    Violet, smoke, bitter chocolate, and roasted meats with black pepper stand out first and foremost. Blue and black fruits with licorice tones fill the mid palate, and the persistent mineral conclusion is everything you expect to find with classic Côte Rôtie, the coolest of all the Northern Rhone appellations.

    The domaine diverges from other traditionalists in their partial de-stemming and use of some new barrique. 50% for Les Grandes Places and 20% for the Côte Rôtie classique. If there was a model in the entire Northern Rhone for how best to illustrate deft incorporation of some new wood I am taken to Clusel-Roch far quicker than the other usual suspects, such as Guigal and Ogier. Clusel-Roch has really formed their following by appealing first and foremost to traditional-leaning palates, while still being admired by those who regularly chase the La La's.

    With the lowest and only price offered, respectively, this is a combo not to be missed. I've also taken things down even further by offering special pricing on mixed 2-packs. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen