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2015 Côte-Rôtie “Besset”

Barruol / Lynch

2015 Côte-Rôtie “Besset”  Barruol / Lynch - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Today, Côte-Rôtie is enjoying a comeback. These once-neglected steep slopes overlooking the Rhône are now highly sought after by vignerons who recognize the potential for a delicious and distinctive expression of Syrah. Among them is Louis Barruol, proprietor of Château de Saint Cosme in Gigondas, who has developed a small project purchasing fruit from some of the finest terroirs upriver and crafting several micro-cuvées of traditional Côte-Rôtie. This entails selecting sustainably grown Serine (an old clone of Syrah) from top vineyard sites and vinifying in neutral wood with the grape stems, as was once common practice, before an unfined and unfiltered bottling. The lieu-dit Besset lies at the top of the slope, where cooling breezes offset the richness endowed by the full southern exposure in a warm vintage. From the classic aromas of graphite, black fruit, and roasted spice, to the total finesse of its tannins, this is Côte-Rôtie at its best.

Anthony Lynch

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 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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When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:

1. Big wines do not age better than light wine.
2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration.
3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them.
4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would.
5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.

Inspiring Thirst, page 174


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