Two 2009s from Domaine Durand (Eric & Joel)

Hello friends. Perhaps from the subject of today’s e-mail, you thought we’d be talking about these guys. Alas, no. Despite my desire to do a close reading of the “Rio” video (the oddly-colored rotary phones connected to nothing, the sax solo on a flimsy raft, the worst special-effect giant-red-ball of all time: there’s a lot to analyze), we are today focused not on English New Wave but instead on Eric and Joel Durand. With a ‘d’.

The Durand family farms 13 hectares in the northern Rhone: 8 in St Joseph and 5 in Cornas. This is a picture of one of their sites (you have to be half-crazy to farm the Northern Rhone). The Durands had sold to Guigal for many years, but when brothers Eric and Joel took over in the mid-90s, they decided to go down the vigneron path, growing the grapes and bottling their own wines from their properties. It’s telling of the Northern Rhone’s glacial pace that, twenty years later, Robert Parker still refers to the brothers as “up-and-coming young turks of the northern Rhone.”

In typical vintages, they produce three bottlings from St. Joseph and three from Cornas. We have one of each today, at fine tariffs.

2009 Domaine Durand (Eric & Joel) St. Joseph

Here’s a nice map to get us oriented. As you can see, we’re in the narrow strip of the northern Rhone, where Syrah is king. This is 100% Syrah, done entirely in concrete, and it comes in at 13.5% alcohol. The aromatics combine the savory (beef stock, bacon fat, black pepper) with the richly-fruited (blackberry). On the palate, this is structured, elegant, and very minerally (charcoal, graphite): a fine introduction to St. Joseph.

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “($40); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

2009 Domaine Durand (Eric & Joel) Cornas

Cornas is tiny compared to St. Joseph (check the map above; the planted acreage is about 10% as large). In fact, wine trade folks frequently like to point out that there are individual producers in Bordeaux that release more wine in some vintages than the entire appellation of Cornas. So yeah, this is a small place, and the wines are a bit harder to come by, and so tend to command higher prices than St. Joseph.

The nose is ripe and lovely, combining raspberry liqueur with a mélange of crushed peppercorns. Unlike the St. Joseph, which is weighted heavily towards minerality and structure, this is a more even balance of fruit and mineral. There is a solid core of red raspberry fruit that marries nicely with a clear, appealing graphitic note. This is dense and concentrated, and still quite compact. Setting a few aside to drink young and a few aside to hold for several years is not a bad strategy.

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “($44); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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