Exploring the Northern Rhône

Over the course of 2015, a passion for the illustrious Syrahs from the Northern Rhône has evolved into a full-blown obsession. This narrow region follows the Rhône River in the South East of France and is fairly easy to comprehend. There are only a handful of appellations and the main red grape grown here is Syrah.

But this is just the cover of a beautiful story; within each region you can find numerous vineyards steeped in history, each yielding incredible wines. Of all the wines I had the pleasure of tasting from the Northern Rhône in 2015, two stand out as the most memorable. Below is a little more information on each.

Yves Gangloff – “La Barbarine” Côte Rôtie
The Wine Director at Stone Hill Tavern and dear friend Paul Coker opened this bottle while the sun was setting on the Pacific Ocean in Monarch Beach. Yves Gangloff’s “La Barbarine” is regarded as the “missing” La, a term made famous by prominent winemaker Étienne Guigal. The vineyard of “La Barbarine” is found in Côte Rôtie, a region notoriously etched by difficult terrain. Vineyards here mainly comprise of Syrah and are literally carved into the terraced slopes shaped by the Rhône River. With a heady aroma of Lavender, the inviting nose is balanced perfectly with blue and purple plums. You can source the hidden La for around $87 at Hi-Time Wine Cellars.

Alain Verset – Cornas
I discovered this bottle while in France and with a little investigation discovered that it’s actually made by the nephew of the late legendary Noël Verset. Alain has minuscule vineyards dispersed throughout the finest sites in Cornas, including Reynards and Mazards. The wine created from these locations resembles classic Syrah. Rustic aromas of a beachside campfire and grilled meat from a 4th of July BBQ flow out of the glass. Sadly, Alain only makes around 70 cases a year, making his Cornas a very rare treat. Thankfully, you can find this bottle through the Rare Wine Co. for an average price of $39.

With a new year comes new favorites; I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings for all of us.

Wishing all of you a Happy New Year.

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