Two from Domaine du Colombier

Hello friends. It has been a few years since the lovely Northern Rhone wines of Domaine du Colombier have been in the Seattle market. When they landed in Seattle recently, we asked for a sample of their Crozes-Hermitage immediately, and loved it enough that we did something we don’t usually do: we asked to pre-purchase (prior to the offer going out) the entire lot that had been imported.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to be mega-greedy, as one other wise buyer also grabbed a handful of cases (if we sell out, a dinner at Sitka & Spruce is your other option to taste this wine). To make up for it, our importer friends at Cavatappi offered us a tiny bonus parcel of a wine I didn’t even know had made it to Seattle: Colombier’s Hermitage.

We’re offering both wines today, and both wines arrived in the warehouse last week, so no delayed gratification necessary.

2011 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage

Colombier was founded in 1929, and for most of their existence sold their fruit to negociants. Their biggest customer was none other than Guigal. Then in 1992, the family decided to begin estate-bottling their own wines, and since then, they’ve risen to become one of the great under-the-radar estates of the region.

Well, mostly under the radar. Here’s Robert Parker himself introducing the estate in late 2012: Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “Domaine du Colombier is one of the most underrated estates in the Northern Rhone. Proprietor Viale merits more attention from wine writers, critics, bloggers, etc. given the quality of wines he is producing. Moreover, this is one of the few family-owned domaines producing Hermitage, not to mention their splendid Crozes-Hermitage. 2010 and 2011 are two more top vintages to add to the brilliant trilogy of 2009s they produced.”

As you can see on the map, Crozes-Hermitage is an area in the crook of the neck made by the confluence of the Rhone and Isere rivers. While up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne are allowed in red Crozes, this is 100% Syrah, done whole-cluster and foot-stomped, and given long, cool fermentations. It kicks off with a killer nose that reminded me of nothing more than steak au poivre, with meat, smoky notes, and black pepper complementing the blackberry fruit. There’s more than a whiff of the sauvage here, leaving no doubt that this was done whole-cluster. In the mouth, the savory (demi-glace) notes continue in this rich, lightly funky, overtly delicious Syrah. The woodsmoke elements on the nose and palate (there’s very little new oak used here – it’s mostly concrete and big old demi-muids – so I suspect it’s just varietal character expressed through this terroir) evoked autumn for me, but I’d drink this all year long.

At its $30 release price, it was still a good value. I’m thrilled that we’re able to offer it a few ticks below that, and I only wish we had more.

2010 Domaine du Colombier Hermitage

Hermitage is one of the true beating hearts of Syrah in the world. A tiny AOC (345 acres) contained on a single hill (location here), it produces wines that are as difficult to source as they are hauntingly beautiful.

This one starts with a knockout nose, all complexity with violets and blue fruits and smoke and bacon and coffee and loamy earth. The list goes on and on. Already a palate-stainer, it has a lovely sense of polish and class but is clearly old-world, both for its insistent earthen/mineral tones and for its powerfully chewy tannin structure. The best is yet to come for this one.

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

Please limit order requests to 4 bottles of Crozes and 2 bottles of Hermitage, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines are already in the warehouse and are ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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