Fabulous Syrah from Drinkable to Collectible

by Russ Anderson on October 30, 2017

c1Along the steep, narrow valley that traces the northern Rhône, the appellations of Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Saint-Joseph take their place among the great wine regions of France. Here Domaine Faury is one of the region’s most artisanal producers. Philippe Faury took control of the winery in 1979 and grew it to 11 hectares. Since 2006, his son Lionel has taken over the reins at Domaine Faury, though father and son still work side by side.

The steep slopes of the northern Rhône present a challenging terrain where farming is only feasible through terracing. On these terraced slopes, the Faurys’ vines take full advantage of the southern and southeastern sun exposure, benefitting from optimum ripening. A combination of the predominately granitic soil, partial de-stemming (in about 70% of the grapes), soft crushing of the grapes with a pneumatic press, and temperature controlled fermentation offer a liveliness and freshness that one does not often find in wines from the northern Rhône. There’s a real attention to detail here, with pigeage, the punching of the cap, is not carried out with tools, but gently by foot – not just poetic but also pragmatic.

Unlike many other vignerons in the region, the Faurys have a strong aversion to new oak. Though the reds definitely see time in barrels, there is a rotation between new and old alike, along with a variety of sizes, ranging from the smaller barriques to the larger 600-liter demi-muids. Unfined and only lightly filtered before bottling, these wines are loaded with classic flavors and show a remarkable rustic elegance.

If you like Syrah, you owe it to yourself to try some from the Northern Rhone. This region is renowned around the world for producing some of the finest Syrah based wines and establishing a baseline for finesse and richness.

c2Syrah – Collines Rhodaniennes 2016
This bottle is an incredible value and a great introduction to the wines of the Northern Rhone with. It is a wine to buy and drink in a shorter time frame while waiting for St Joesph and Cote-Roties to age.

Bright red fruits, soft texture and hints of brambly flowers all intermixed. A key to the elegance of the wine is the vineyard location, higher up the slopes that border the Rhone river here.
Syrah – Collines Rhodaniennes – $22 a bottle, 5 cases available.

ImprimerSt Joseph 2015
St Joseph is one of the larger regions in the Northern Rhone, so the wines are frequently seen. This frequency means it is important to know who the better producers are to help insure the quality of the wine.

The Faurys craft delicious wines at all levels and this wine shows the importance of location in St Joseph. The wine’s fruit grows on steep hill sides, up to 35% grade that face south and south east. This optimizes ripeness of fruit and balance. As well, there is some stem inclusion, usually between 30% and 40%. This year, due to the quality of the fruit it was 50%. The wine has a very soft and elegant mouthfeel full of ripe blue fruits and notes of cocoa and crushed stone. $32 a bottle, 3 cases available.

c4Cote Rotie 2015
This is a classic wine, blending three terrors within the Cote Brune as well as including 10% Viogner, for additional aromatics. The Viogner and Syrah are both co-planted and co-fermented. 70% of the grapes are destemmed.

The mouthfeel on this wine is amazingly plush and velvety. The nose and palate both have some of the floral sanguine notes of Syrah with purple violets in the back ground. For those who know Northern Rhone Syrah, this wine is meaty in all the best possible ways. This wine will cause you a tug of war as it is so approachable now but you know it will evolve beautifully in the bottle over the next 5 years. Reward your patience and the wine will last for more than a decade. $63 a bottle, 2 cases available.

c5Cote Rotie – Emporium 2014
As noted, Cote Rotie can be some of the most elegant Syrah produced in the world. Wines from this steeply sloped region really can take on characteristics of Pinot Noir from the regions northern neighbor, Burgundy.

This bottle takes Syrah to a truly impressive level. In addition, this bottling is the single wine on the trip that elicited a collective “wow” from the group. This wine will perturb you as you could get full enjoyment from just smelling it and never sipping, but that would be a shame.

It is sourced solely from he Fourvier lieu-dit in Cote-Rotie. The fruit is hand harvest and 50% is de-stemmed. Simply stunning with notes of sassafras, cardamon and other exotic spices dancing among a forest of blue fruits. I consider the quality offered here a value even at the price. Cote-Rotie “Emporium” 2014 – $84 – 6 bottles available

If you want to gain an appreciation of Northern Rhone Syrah and the fabulous elegant deep fruit it offers, this is a great producer to explore. Each wine is delicious in its own right but you can taste the impact of terroir as you move from one to another. Again, this would make a great tasting with some leg of lamb and a group of friends.

6 Pack Special Offer – Buy 3 Syrah Collines Rhodannienes, 2 St Joseph and one Cote-Rotie and receive the normal case discount of 10%.

We look forward to helping you find some delicious wines for your next meal or event.

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