Smooth, Intense Northern Rhône Red: “the Best in 55 Years.” $25

Much has been written about the 2015 vintage in Burgundy, one of the best in at least a generation. But the vintage also blessed other regions in France, in particular, the syrah-based wines of the Northern Rhône. Jancis Robinson speculated the 2015 Northern Rhones might be “the best in 55 years.”

We don’t open 1962 Hermitage very often, so we’ll have to take her word for it. But we can say that they’re extraordinary wines — inky, dark, and mouthfilling but with exceptional balance and refined tannins.

With a few years under their belt these wines have become terrific. The greats (Cote Rotie, Cornas, Hermitage) will age for decades; many others are ready now.

Denis Basset is a young winemaker who is passionate and very talented – our tasting appointments with him we rarely begin (and never end) on time. His pure-syrah wines are a perfect marriage of Northern refinement and sun-baked Southern richness.

We bought about twice our normal quantity of the 2015 Crozes-Hermitage “Etincelle,” anticipating a bright future. Whether it was foresight or luck, we’re pretty pleased to have it around now. The 2015 Etincelle is a triumph — astonishingly intense and concentrated, but at 13.5% alcohol a balanced and refreshing glass as well.

The color is an inky black-purple, with a savory nose showing cloves, blackberries and violets. The youthful raspy tannins have given way to a gorgeous polish — it remains dense and smooth with classic notes of plum and black pepper. It’s a drink-now gem from a magnificent year.


Saint-Clair Crozes-Hermitage “Etincelle” 2015
bottle price: $25

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