Traditionally, blending is the rule, rather than the exception, in Côte Rôtie. Despite the proliferation of single-vineyard prestige cuvées, stalwarts like Jean-Paul Jamet and Louis Barruol continue to produce classic Côte Rôtie composed of multiple vineyards that, when blended, showcase the whole of the appellation. This elegant 2016 bottling is made from six different parcels expertly vinified by Louis Barruol—a fourteenth-generation vigneron, by the way—and blended by Kermit in Louis’s ancient cellars. At the risk of sounding inelegant, the 2016, with its concentrated fruit and smoky black olive note, is straight-up delicious.
We usually consider the southern and northern Rhône valleys as separate regions, with Grenache dominating in the south and Syrah in the north. In the area where north and south meet, though—the Côtes du Vivarais—the distinction isn’t so clear-cut. Take Alain Gallety’s brooding red that, like a vinous Janus, faces both north and south. Here Syrah and Grenache are equal partners. The deep fruit and savory elements of the former join with the cherry and licorice-scented aromas of the latter in a hybrid that would make a Prius envious.
If ever a wine qualified as a “winter white,” it’s this one. The satiny, luxurious blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Roussanne is a liquid scarf that wards off the gloom of short, cold days with a foreshadowing of the ripe summer stone fruits to come.
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