On Wednesday we spent the day tasting in along the sleep slopes of the Northern Rhône Valley. Beginning in Crozes-Hermitage in the south, we crossed the river to Cornas, and then worked our way up through Saint-Joseph and Condrieu before arriving in the northernmost appellation, Côte Rôtie.
Sometimes the last tasting of the day is a drag. By the time we got to Christophe and Léa Bonnefond we’d tasted well over 50 wines — many of them barely-fermented syrah from barrel, and our palates were tired. But tasting at Bonnefond is never anything short of a delight. Their Côte Rôties set the bar for the subtlety and elegance possible from the grape.
We tasted their lithe, elegant 2021s from bottle, and their lush, exuberant 2022s from barrel — but the 2020s are already back at home in our warehouse.
Syrah simply doesn’t get any better than this. From a plot bordering the famous La Landonne, the Bonnefond brothers produce only 125 cases of their Côte Rozier per year. Think of a flabby, high-alcohol, warm weather shiraz — this is its opposite. Vinous’s Josh Raynolds awarded 96 points, finding “very good depth as well as energy,” with a “wonderfully long” finish.
We found a dark perfumed nose of violets, cloves, and black raspberries. The mouth is inky and long with sturdy tannins but an unmistakable elegance — the texture is dense and very fine. On the palate there’s cherry jam, black pepper, and a hint of smoke. Picture the subtle elegance of a fine red Burgundy, with the dark fruit and spice profile of something further south.
The only problem with these wines is their scarcity — it was the first vintage in recent memory we didn’t get our full request. Act fast, then drink slow.
Bonnefond Côte Rôtie “Rozier” 2020
bottle price: $78
FREE EAST COAST SHIPPING ON ANY 12 BOTTLES