2013 Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone

FP In The News UPDATE: Marty Sparks has written a lovely post about Full Pull’s first five years over at Northwest Wine Anthem. Some of the most incisive, consistent, and witty wine writing in the northwest is taking place on the Anthem. If you’re not already following Clive Pursehouse et al, I highly recommend you do so.

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Hello friends. Just like last year and the year before that, we’ve been offered an excellent (albeit short-term) tariff on a reference-point Southern Rhone Syrah. Better yet: this is an exceptional vintage and an early candidate, in my opinion, for wine of the year.

Fortunately, this year the Wine Spectator review is not out yet. But considering the wine has received 90pt reviews in five of the past seven years, a prediction can be made with some measure of confidence. This wine also claimed a spot on the Spectator Top 100 list in 2010 (for the 2009 vintage), and with its release price of $16 (which has also held steady for the past seven years, making it a better and better value with each passing year), it’s always a threat to land on Spectator’s year-end list. But let’s aim for something a little lower than that $16 release price:

Now a quick logistics note: we only get one shot at this pricing, and it’s volume-based (one of those times when we all benefit from Full Pull’s growth these past few years). We’ll try to build in a buffer for late orders and *some* reorders, but once we exceed that buffer, any reorders beyond that will be at a tariff closer to this wine’s normal $15-$16 range.

What is rare (and in my view, exciting) about Saint Cosme’s version of Cotes-du-Rhone is that it’s 100% Syrah. Most CdR’s are majority-Grenache, but we already know where Louis Barroul’s Grenache goes: into Little James Basket Press (another list favorite that will be making an appearance before the end of the year). So that leaves us with 100% Rhone Syrah at a price point that cries out for exploration.

It comes from two of Cosme’s holdings – one in Vinsobres (a bit cooler, on limestone and sand) and one in Gard (warmer, on large terraces of medium-to-large rolling stones) – and it’s done entirely in concrete. I first tasted the wine over the summer and thought someone was playing a trick on me and had thrown one of Saint Cosme’s northern Rhone Syrahs into the glass. I was in such disbelief that I wanted to wait a few months and taste again to confirm initial impressions. Well, what can I say? Initial impressions confirmed.

I try to keep the hyperbole train in the station for the most part (I see some of you chuckling right now), but this is for me the most successful version of Louis Barroul’s CdR that I have tasted, a veritable baby Cote Rotie. Tasting it recently with the importers and some of the Full Pull team, we all just found ourselves shaking our heads. It presents such a glorious, wild Northern Rhone nose, with sauvage character galore: gamey, smoky, peppery (a veritable charcuterie plate), with iodine bass notes and floral topnotes. Then the palate, whose purity and intensity belie the tariff, as they always seem to do for this bottling from Cosme. It’s a seamless mouthful that coats the palate with Syrah goodness and lingers on, and on, and on.

I was struck by Barroul’s notes this year, because I think it’s clear he knows he has something special too: “The vintage 2012 was a good vintage for syrah, but 2013 is a great vintage for this cépage. The late and cool vintages are always good for this grape that is well adapted to the northern areas of the Rhone valley. We noticeably remember about the magnificent vintage 1999 which gave syrah of stunning freshness. They were straightforward and precise. The syrah from Vinsobres and from the Terrasses Villafranchiennes of the Gard give this year remarkable results. Be ready to taste this year a Côtes du Rhône full of fruit and fresh aromas, with a nice tight texture. It will be “interesting” to propose this wine as a blind taste to your friends (or your enemies!!) to get them wrong. It is possible that a few of them think that this syrah comes from Cornas or Crozes-Hermitage. It is my pleasure to offer every year a wine of this quality at a reasonable level of price. This is what french wine means: bottle a bit of spirit even at an affordable price.”

Bottle a bit of spirit. I like that. This bottle contains more than a little spirit. It’s certainly delicious to drink young, but I’ve also had great success aging this wine for five or six years. Because this wine has a history with our list members, and because it’s such a stone cold killer for winter parties/weddings, let’s open it up to first come first served up to 72 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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