The monthly Wine Focus discussions are now held in the main Wine Forum (above). The forum remains open as an archive, but please post comments and questions in the Wine Forum.
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Robin Garr

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Wine Focus for January: Northern Rhone Syrah

by Robin Garr » Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:10 pm

The subject line says it all: A big, hearty wine for the Northern Hemisphere's most wintry month, the Syrahs of the Northern Rhone, including - in roughly ascending order of reputation and price - Crozes-Hermitage, St. Joseph, Cornas, Cote-Rotie and the lofty Hermitage. These are typically powerful, structured black wines with characteristics of grilled meat, smoke and blood.

Let's compare notes on these wines, remembering that Wine Focus, as its name implies, sets up a relatively small target and tries to stick to it. If the topic inspires you to taste other Syrahs or even Shiraz as well, that's great, but let's keep those other-topic notes in the regular Wine Forum or, if you like, cross-posted to the Netscape WineLovers Community, where the Wine of the Month (WOTM) will be Shiraz in general.
Last edited by Robin Garr on Fri Feb 02, 2007 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sue Courtney

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Northern Rhone Syrah

by Sue Courtney » Thu Jan 04, 2007 4:09 pm

When I did a wine course at the end of 2005 I was surprised to learn that Cote-Rotie can have up to 20% Viognier in the blend. I knew that Viognier was allowed to be blended in with the Syrah, but not that much. Anyway, it finally clicked why it had become rather fashionable for Australasian wine makers to blend some Viognier in with the Syrah - and proudly pronounce that fact on the front label - even if there was only as little as 2% Viognier!

The other thing that surprised me was that red wines from St Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage reds were allowed up to 15% Marsanne and Roussane in the blend with Syrah.

Cornas is the only appellation that has to be 100% Syrah.

Does anyone know of a Cote-Rotie that always has Viognier in the blend?

Cheers,
Sue
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Northern Rhone Syrah

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:07 pm

Our good friend Chris Kissick, as usual, has some interesting points of view regarding the N Rhone.

http://www.thewinedoctor.com/regionalguides/rhone.shtml
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Paul Winalski

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Viognier in Cote-Rotie

by Paul Winalski » Thu Jan 04, 2007 10:32 pm

Although the AOC regulations allow up to 20% viognier in the blend, my understanding is that most Cote-Rotie is 5% viognier or less, and some are varietal syrah.

I remember a very fine De Vallouit Cote-Rotie (1985?) that was close to the 20% max viognier. As one would expect, it was very aromatic.

-Paul W.
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Paul Winalski

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Ouch, the prices!

by Paul Winalski » Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:54 am

I adore Northern Rhone syrah. Especially Cote-Rote and Hermitage, and to an only slightly lesser extent, Cornas. And I've had many a celestial Crozes-Hermitage, and the occasional really good St. Joseph (IMO an appellation drawn too wide for its own good).

But, gad, the current prices! The Northern Rhone used to be a great bargain region. But now it's $50+ for what used to cost $15+.

I'm sorry. However much I may adore Northern Rhones, most of them have gone beyond my price limit. I'll gladly still drink them--as long as someone else is paying--but I will no longer buy them.

And that is with very great regret.

-Paul W. (still drinking through his Rhone '80s vintages, and thoroughly enjoying it)

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