We organized with friends the other day a "tongue-in-cheek" wine tasting, with a silly theme: red wines - Italy vs. French. After a long night and many heated debates (always surprises me how much emotions wine can provoke:) Italy won (by a small margin), but this particular wine was one of the wines of the tasting, and rightly so.
Saint-Joseph lived it`s heydays as early as in the 1400s, being the favorite wine region of Ludwig XII, the king of French, where he also owned a vineyard called "Clos de Tournon". The first officially recorded vineyard of the area dates back to 1668, with the name Saint-Joseph (after the eponymous saint), and was owned by the local Jesuits. Nowadays this, second largest AOC in the Northern Rhône right after Crozes-Hermitage, is kind of living it`s Renaissance, with increasing demand / popularity, and many high profile producers starting to get serious with it. There has been lately even a talk and suggestions of a possible new appellation (1er Cru Saint-Joseph). This is apparently propagated by J.L Chave and many other winemakers, in hopes of lifting the quality and prestige of the area.
Chateau de Saint Cosme - Saint-Joseph
28€ Wine-Searcher average price
This Saint-Joseph by Chateau de Saint Cosme is made with 100% Sérine, an ancient clone of Syrah grape, originating from the Northern Rhône (some people think it´s a grape of it`s own, rather than a clone). Some also claim that Sérine has actually more complexity, and more pronounced "Northern Rhône Syrah typicity" of smoke, pepper, olives, bacon fat etc. than a regular Syrah (Oh, the unfathomable abysses of wine nerdom..). Well, this wine is certainly not debunking the claim, though it isn`t proving it either. Wine is aged in 20% new oak – 40% in one year old barrels – 40% in two years old barrels.
Nice, quite transparent, ruby red color.
Not a super strong, but inviting nose of ripe strawberries, plums, smoke, a bit of oak(that faded away pretty fast), vanilla and black pepper.
On the palate wine feels very fresh, with strawberries, boysenberries, a bit af gaminess, and a good touch of pepper. Has also a strong smokey and savory character, which is highly delicious. Good acidity, and polished tannins. Alcohol is well hidden. Medium to long aftertaste of strawberries, smoke and a total white/black pepper galore, almost like a pepper bomb explosion.
Not an easy wine to understand maybe, even feels at first a bit introvert. But It`s a wine that grows on you slowly, and at the end you`re totally hooked, maybe like the Northern Rhône as a wine region in general.
Excellent and pure Northern Rhône Syrah(or Sérine) typicity. Elegant, and classical wine, which is not trying too hard. Though, I must say that this has all the elements of being even a much greater wine, and with just a little more umpf(better vintage? ageing?) it could be just that. Nevertheless an absolutely beautiful wine.