The Northern Rhône
by Madison Brown
Clémence Marsanne (pictured on the cover) is the newest generation to hone her craft at this historic domaine. She’s worked alongside her father Jean-Claude for only three vintages officially, but she practically grew up on the hallowed slopes surrounding her village of Mauves and knows them like the back of her hand. A most charming entry point to Marsanne, the grape and la famille, the 2020 blanc is opulent and expressive with notes of apricot, almond, and lemon meringue. Creamy yet chiseled, it’s deliciously versatile at table.
Vigneron Lionel Faury drives a Ford Ranger, has an eyebrow piercing, and is a world-champion water jouster. On his off days you’ll find him out grilling by the pool. He’s effortlessly cool and happens to be cooking up some of the hottest wines in the northern Rhône. Despite his brawny veneer, Lionel prefers to make supple reds with soft tannin and ample freshness. A testament to his house style, the 2021 Les Ribaudes is vibrant and balanced with juicy dark fruit, a hint of peppery spice, and earthy minerality imprinted by its granite terroir. A charismatic Syrah as multifaceted as its maker.
The lion’s share of the fruit for the 2020 vintage comes from a single lieu-dit, Rosier, a narrow vineyard valley with rare geological makeup known as Bonnevaux L’Amballan. The roots here dive deep through thin sheets of fine-grained shale and clay deposits, soaking up minerals like a tonic along the way. The resulting fruit is highly concentrated and capable of producing intensely aromatic, age-worthy wines. True to form, the nose of Les Roses is pure poesy, all fruit, flowers, and fodder—black currant, rose petal and violet, antique leather. Layered and textural, this tightly bound opus will open and unfurl itself with time, be it an hour in a decanter or decades in the cellar.