2012 Nicolas Perrin Syrah Viognier

Hello friends. I’ve always been particularly susceptible to the charms of super-groups. Yes, they can be crap. But they can also be sublime. Cream, CSN&Y, Traveling Wilburys, Broken Social Scene, The Postal Service, Monsters of Folk, Empire of the Sun, Broken Bells, Golden Smog. I’m sure I’m leaving others out. At their best, they produce records that are more compelling than any of the members could have done with their own main projects.

I think wine supergroups are more rare, but I ran into one recently, and it’s a doozy. Maison Nicolas Perrin is a collaboration between the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel in the Southern Rhone, and Nicolas Jaboulet in the Northern Rhone. They produce a series of stylish AOC wines from the Northern Rhone (a Cote Rotie, a Saint Joseph, a Cornas, a Crozes). But dollar for dollar, the star of the show is their humble Vin de France:

Here is Robert Parker, introducing the project in Wine Advocate a few years ago:

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Even just looking at the bottle design, you get a sense of the class involved in this operation. Inside the bottle, this gets the VdF desgination because – in addition to juice from Northern Rhone appellations – this also gets Vin de Pays fruit from areas just outside the Northern Rhone proper: Collines Rhodaniennes, Coteaux de l’Ardèche and Drôme. It is a blend of Syrah cofermented with Viognier. The Maison itself says the Viognier component is 8%, although I’ve seen other references to 6% and 3%. Regardless, there’s somewhere between a smidge and a dash of Viognier in the mix.

What I loved about this right away is that it is decidedly old school. This is hardly two ancient Rhone families trying to move into modernity. And bravo to that! If we want delicious new-world Syrah, we have plenty of that in Washington. If we’re going to drink Syrah from the Northern Rhone and environs, let’s have it taste like it comes from that place. And so it does, beginning with a nose of olive tapenade, smoked meats, earth, cracked black pepper, and black cherry fruit (flesh and pit). The smoky savories continue on the brisk (12.5% listed alc) palate, with terrific inner-mouth lift from floral Viognier. More complexity than you’d expect at this tag, and a wonderful autumnal character that had me sorting through my books for good stew recipes.

As you’d imagine, this has been a hugely popular wine for restaurants looking for a $10 Syrah glass pour, and it has been difficult to secure a large enough parcel to support an offer. But we have one now, smack in the middle of prime Syrah season. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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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