I’ve been beating the drum for the Northern Rhône lately, for a myriad of reasons. First, we’re the beneficiaries of a string of great vintages - especially 2015 and 2016 - and it is a category that is still - remarkably - undervalued. As prices for Burgundy and Bordeaux and Napa skyrocket to levels not seen in generations, the Northern Rhône remains relatively static.
But not every wine need be a collector’s item or something that needs decades of cellar age. The Northern Rhône can do daily drinkers too. And who better to provide them than one of the region’s true all-stars?
“Yves Cuilleron has become one of the bright shining stars of the northern Rhone” Robert Parker
Yves Cuilleron makes a wide range of wines from across the appellations - including, but not limited to St. Joseph, Condrieu, Côte Rôtie and Crozes-Hermitage - but perhaps his greatest accomplishment is the range of vin de pays varietal wines: Viognier Marsanne, Roussanne and Syrah.
Yes, none of them equal the stature of a Condrieu or Côte Rôtie, but the expression of each grape is as classical, precise and delicious as they come. They have become the perfect introduction to the appellations of the Northern Rhône, and delicious daily drinkers in their own right.
The 2017 Syrah shows what I’m talking about in spades: bacon fat, black olives, a touch of black pepper and dark red fruits. There is plenty of acidity and juicy fruit on the palate. In sum, this is spectacular, and one of the best values every year. A case seems to be in order, wouldn’t you say?
2017 Y. Cuilleron Syrah "Les Vignes d'à Côté"
My Note: Cracked black pepper, bacon fat and black olives, with dark plums dominate the nose. The palate is fresh and pepper, with a juicy core and nice finish. Exceptional for the level and anything but an “entry level” wine, despite its appellation and price.