A delicious northern Rhone Syrah
When you write about wine professionally, it's hard to answer the question, 'what's your favourite wine?' But when people quiz you on this topic, they usually don't want a five-minute answer explaining why it's hard to give an answer: they want a simple answer.
And in the past, this answer has frequently been 'Cote Rotie'. I'm a big fan of northern Rhone Syrah, and usually the best expression of this is Cote Rotie (unless we're talking Chave, the best producer of Hermitage by a country mile, or Thierry Allemand's Cornas). I feel like I've neglected the northern Rhone a bit in the last year or two, but now I'm coming back to it, and tonight I've opened another bottle that is just delicious.
It's a Crozes Hermitage. Along with St Joseph, Crozes offers an affordable glimpse of the greatness of northern Rhone Syrah, when it's done well. This is one of the general observations I can make about the northern Rhone, though - the producer matters hugely, because the standard varies widely, as does the stylistic expression.
Gilles Robin Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Alberic Bouvet 2005 Northern Rhone, France I really like this wine: it's a fantastic expression of northern Rhone Syrah. Deep coloured, it has a fresh, peppery dark fruits nose with a meaty, slightly animally complexion to the sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. The palate has a lovely earthy, meaty, spicy edge to the ripe black fruits with good acidity and a subtle plummy bitterness keeping things nice and savoury. Tight and youthful, this is great with hearty food right now, but could be kept for another five years to mellow out a bit. 13.5% alcohol. 91/100 (£14.95 Great Western Wine)