Growing up in the Lynch household, there was never a shortage of fine wine. Fortunate enough to enjoy stellar bottles from the likes of Clape, Raveneau, and Tempier that would come to shape my palate, I rapidly developed favorites. Aged Bandol and Chablis certainly ranked high on my list, but more than anything, the scarce Côte-Rôties from the family cellar truly left a mark. With mystifying, exotic aromatics recalling eucalyptus, faded flowers, black olive, and leather—just to name a few—the wines from this fascinating northern Rhône terroir had me captivated and in total awe. Sadly, the dwindling number of bottles in our Côte-Rôtie bin, once full of gems from vignerons like Robert Jasmin and Marius Gentaz, meant that these special treats became all too rare. Things are looking up now for us fanatics of these fine Syrahs grown along the near-vertical banks of the Rhône. Our burgeoning collaboration with Louis Barruol has seen these coveted bins in the cellar fill up with meticulously crafted Côte-Rôties that echo the old style—that magical marriage of power, finesse, and enchanting aromatics—that got me and so many others hooked to begin with. Louis works only with Serine, the region’s traditional Syrah budwood; he vinifies the wines naturally without de-stemming, and he bottles unfiltered. These key factors go a long way in emulating that sensual, perfumed style of Côte-Rôtie that is so rewarding after a few years tucked away. “La Boisselée” is a blend we create each year in Louis’ cellar, combining a few barrels from select lieux-dits on the Roasted Slope. While the blend changes each year, it tends to focus more on the Côte Brune, featuring such reputed parcels as Le Plomb, La Viaillère, and Besset. With this three-pack—starring the still-taut 2013, the rounder, more approachable 2014, and the regal, grandiose 2015—you can once again stock the Côte-Rôtie bin in your own cellar.
SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $189.00
(a 20% discount)
2013 Côte-Rôtie “La Boisselée” $79.00 A blend of 5 barrels from the lieu-dit Le Plomb 2014 Côte-Rôtie “La Boisselée” $79.00 A blend of 5 barrels: 2 from from the lieu-dit Besset, 2 from Semons, and 1 from Le Plomb 2015 Côte-Rôtie “La Boisselée” $79.00 A blend of 4 barrels: 2 from from the lieu-dit La Viaillère and 2 from Fongeant
Louis Barruol is an indefatigable force in the Rhône, the 14th generation in his family to be making wine in Gigondas. On what was once the site of a Roman villa, Louis’ cellars show spectacular remains of Roman vinification vats carved into the limestone. Here, Louis works with different grape varietals from the Rhône, vinifying each parcel separately. He’s taken to acting as a micro-négociant, working with top growers in the region who still work with Sérine. Producing only a few precious barrels of each cuvée, Louis is helping to save the authenticity and identity of old Côte Rôtie parcels. Together, he and Kermit blend our Northern Rhône wines and a Southern Côtes du Rhône Blanc and Rouge from a selection of Louis’ purchases.
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.
For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa