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2015 Côte Rôtie “La Boisselée”

Barruol / Lynch

2015 Côte Rôtie “La Boisselée” Barruol / Lynch - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
That Syrah is tough to sell is an old wine business cliché, and as with most clichés, there’s some truth in it. For whatever reason, this beguiling, dark-skinned grape hasn’t captivated wine drinkers the way other varieties have. I think it’s because the best Syrahs somehow seem inscrutable. Instead of leaping out of the glass, they pull you in. They have interesting and unusual aromas, and are slightly off-kilter in an intriguing way, like the waltz in 5/4 time in Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique. If you happen to be a Syrah devotee, like me, you probably appreciate these qualities in your wine—and perhaps in your music as well.
      Although everyone’s experience is different, I’d be willing to wager that for most Syrah lovers, the seminal Syrah experience was with a bottle from the northern Rhône. It’s an improbable combination of grape and place, with vineyards so steep and punishing to work that even the scions of famous domaines think twice about taking over from their hardworking parents. Louis Barruol traverses the slopes of Côte Rôtie—the northernmost appellation in the northern Rhône—for the most expressive parcels of Syrah. He vinifies each separately, and then Kermit tastes through every lot and assembles the final blends.
This is one for the cellar. Weighty up front, but with an unexpected delicacy on the finish. Ripe, but balanced with savory elements. This is what all the fuss is about.

Dustin Soiseth

Vintage: 2015
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Syrah
Appellation: Côte Rôtie
Country: France
Region: Northern Rhône
Producer: Barruol Lynch - Northern Rhône
Winemaker: Louis Barruol
Vineyard: 30 - 50 years
Soil: Schist
Farming: Lutte Raisonnée
Alcohol: 13.5%

More from this Producer or Region

About Northern Rhône

On the wines of the northern Rhône, Kermit wrote in Adventures on the Wine Route, “The best combine a reminder of the sunny Mediterranean with the more self-conscious, intellectual appeal of the great Burgundies farther north, which is not a bad combination.” Like the wines of Provence, Burgundy, and Beaujolais, Kermit was introduced to this region by Richard Olney, an American ex-pat and friend of Alice Waters.

Though technically part of the same region as the southern Rhône and connected by the Rhône River, much differentiates the north from the south. The climate is continental and in general cooler than that Mediterranean climate of the south. The appellations are significantly smaller: Cornas has less than 300 acres planted to vine and Hermitage around 345. The area planted is minute when compared to Gigondas (3,000+ acres) and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (nearly 8,000 acres). Many of the great wines come from steep hillside vines—terraced during Roman times. It was clear to the Romans that great wine could be made here and DNA evidence now shows that Syrah is in fact indigenous to the Rhône.

The terroir is predominantly granite and lastly, blends of the wines are mostly single grape varieties. Only four grape varieties are permitted in AOC blends: Syrah, Viogner, Marsanne, and Roussanne (as compared to the 19 permitted varieties allowed in Châteauneuf). The red wines are nearly all Syrah and Condrieu and Château Grillet must be 100% Viogner. The whites of Hermitage, Saint Joseph, Saint Péray, and Crozes-Hermitages may only be blends of Marsanne and Roussanne.

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Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

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