Being a wine importer and not a florist, I will abstain from attempting to describe the mesmerizing perfume of this Condrieu. I can, however, tell you that this Viognier soars from the glass with decadence; it is flashy and palate-coating, yet utterly sophisticated. Exotic—luxurious, even—it is distinguished further by its finely nuanced aroma and total delicacy of flavor. This is certainly a wine for thinkers—thinkers who don’t mind a bit of carnal pleasure every now and then.
The Syrah vineyard in question lies a mere fifty yards from the periphery of the Côte-Rôtie AOC, and it enjoys the same mica-schist soils that are typical of this noble appellation. Furthermore, the fruit is treated in nearly identical fashion as the domaine’s hypnotizing Côte-Rôtie bottlings, with a good portion of whole clusters used, aging in neutral demi-muids, and bottling without filtration. The main difference is the younger vines—barely of legal voting age—and the shorter maceration, factors that limit extraction and emphasize fruit. The Côte-Rôtie-like nose has crunchy blackcurrant and blackberry plus a sprinkle of coarsely cracked pepper, while medium tannins and medium price tag make this Syrah all the more easy to appreciate.
I am tempted to proclaim that this Hermitage tastes like those old-school classics made back in the day, but the fact is, I wasn’t even alive then, much less tasting and judging wines. My assessment of this bottle is therefore limited to my understanding of traditional production methods in the northern Rhône and my experience tasting wines made via such methods. Barruol’s La Pierrelle checks all the boxes: the old clone of Syrah (Sérine) in a steep, rocky site; natural vinification with stems; élevage in used barrels; unfiltered bottling. Having had the good fortune to try some mature Hermitages from storied growers, I can nonetheless predict that this one will age similarly—majestically bold and yet somehow ethereal, developing savory, smoky, meaty, and floral nuances over decades in bottle.