Silky New $25 Syrah: Currants, Licorice, Bacon, Violets

The Northern Rhône is the land of Syrah. Best known for its pure-syrah reds from towns like Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, and Cornas, the Northern Rhône produces spiced, intense, inky wines that give unique and precise expressions of their terroir. Most Syrah from famous towns starts north of $60/bot, and those from famous domaines quickly jump to three figures.

Which is why we’re so glad to have found the Domaine Saint Clair in Crozes-Hermitage. Denis Basset’s wines provide an opportunity to enjoy dark, peppery Northern Rhône syrah with greater frequency and lower investment. His 2017 Crozes-Hermitage “Etincelle” is a pure, juicy, classic syrah, with loads more complexity than your average $25 bottle.

Basset is a young winemaker who is passionate and very talented — the Guide Hachette calls his wines “superb,” “subtle” and “silky.” Basset came to winemaking through an accident with a high-voltage wire that nearly cut short his life. Upon leaving the hospital, he decided to pursue his lifelong dream of making wine from his family’s vineyards, and he hasn’t looked back.

Denis somehow continues to improve on his success — his 2017s are magnificent. The nose shows black tea, licorice, a hint of smoke, and currants. The mouth is lively and full of texture, with savory fruit, bacon, and violets.

Some $25 bottles are background music – a quiet array of flavors to accompany conversation. This is the opposite: complex, multilayered, intense, and unforgettable. Pair it with spiced lamb, or a flavorful roast.


St-Clair Crozes-Hermitage 2017
bottle price: $25

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