Sometimes the most impressive wines come from the most unassuming of winemakers. We see our fair share of egocentric vignerons, but often the most talented winemakers are the quietest.
So it is with Christophe Bonnefond. In good years and bad, rain or shine, he greets us with a faint smile and few words. His emails usually contain a phrase or two — if we’re lucky, a whole sentence. But his wines are the work of a master; and they’re anything but faint.
Bonnefond’s wines are pure Syrah, grown on the steep slopes of Côte Rôtie. Together with his brother Patrick, Christophe produces exceptional reds from the Northern Rhône, the region where Syrah finds its most noble expression. The Bonnefonds work some of the more famous plots in the region, but also produce a regular cuvée that requires much less time and is far more affordable: the Colline de Couzou.
The 2016 Côte Rôties are more elegant and finer than those of 2015. With a touch less power and ripeness, the vintage allows spice, silkiness, and lovely fruit to show through. In 20 years, we’d rather have the 2015s in our cellar (and if you didn’t stock up, we have some left); but in the nearer term the 2016s are nearly irresistible.
Vinous’s Josh Raynolds called Bonnefond’s 2016s “as graceful a group of wines as I’ve ever sampled.” And graceful is an apt word — they are long and silky, with beautiful tension and gorgeous texture. The 2016 Côte Rôtie “Colline de Couzou” shows notes of anise, plum jam, and cloves. Vinous awarded 92 points, finding “cassis and violet,” “an energizing jolt of cracked pepper,” and calling it “sappy, smooth and long.”
We like to serve this with a standing rib roast around the holidays. But for any cozy meal away from the autumn chill, this is an excellent choice.
Bonnefond Côte Rôtie 2016
bottle price: $54
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