Two from Jean-Michel Gerin

Hello friends. One of the most-requested categories of import wine that we have not yet offered has been Cote-Rotie. No surprise, since we have plenty of Syrah lovers on this list, and more than that, plenty of funky-Syrah lovers on the list, and Cote-Rotie has an incredible reputation for excellence when it comes to the earthy, stinky, funky side of this grape that we love.

It’s also a tough category to source (if it wasn’t, we would have offered it already!), in part because it’s a tiny appellation. You can see from the Rhone map that it’s the most northerly of the Northern Rhone appellations, and it’s one of a trifecta of absolutely miniscule AOCs (Cornas and Hermitage being the other two).

There’s very little Cote-Rotie produced, and it’s immensely popular. That’s a scary combination. For example, with today’s wine, a whopping 20 cases were imported into the United States. Our allocation is a significant percentage of that, but it still doesn’t amount to much.

But something is better than nothing, so let’s plow ahead, even though I suspect we’ll have to under-allocate this one. We’re also going to include a Viognier from the same producer, a lovely little white that drinks like a baby Condrieu. But first the main course:

2009 Jean-Michel Gerin Cote-Rotie La Vialliere

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “($80); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

It’s vertigo-inducing pictures like this that get everyone so excited about Cote-Rotie. You have to be half-insane (half?) to grow Syrah on slopes this steep. Our wine today comes from a lieu-dit (literally “said-location”; in practice this essentially means a single vineyard) called La Vialliere, in the Cote Brune (see location here).

The very expressive nose is as wild and animal as it gets, with blood and earth and bacon fat competing for attention. The palate combines red fruit with cracked black pepper, some floral lift, and an insistent gamy animal note. “Sauvage as hell,” my note reads, and that about sums it up.

2010 Jean-Michel Gerin Viognier

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “($23); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

While this may indeed be ripe-and-tropical by Northern Rhone standards, anyone who drinks Washington or (gasp!) California Viognier on a regular basis would probably say differently. I found this to have a nice sense of balance, between richness and acidity, and between fruit (orange, peach, green papaya), nut (green almond), flower (honeysuckle, violet) and mineral notes.

Gerin has holdings in Condrieu (and in fact bottles a $45 Condrieu), and I suspect some of this entry-level Viognier comes from there. It certainly punches above its price class, displaying notable textural elegance and intensity of flavor. “Baby Condrieu” is an apt term indeed.

The Viognier is first come first served up to 12 bottles. For the Cote-Rotie, please limit order requests to 2 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. Both wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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