Hello friends. We have basically cornered the Seattle market for the lovely Northern Rhone wines of Domaine du Colombier. 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): [TEXT WITHHELD]
And then here’s Jeb Dunnuck writing in Advocate more recently: [TEXT WITHHELD]
When the new vintages landed in Seattle recently, we asked for samples of their Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage immediately, and loved them both enough that we did something we don’t usually do: we asked to purchase the entire lot that had been imported into Washington, prior to today’s offer going out. We’re offering both wines today, and both wines arrived in the warehouse last week, so no delayed gratification necessary.
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. This Crozes always has wonderful woodsmoke and peat moss 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. That smokiness always evokes autumn for me, but honestly, I’d drink this all year long. The fruit tends towards raspberries, and there are savory elements galore: black olive, meaty demi-glacé, brewed coffee. And texturally this is phenomenal, offering head-turning intensity and a fine sense of weight, all on a moderate-alc (12.5%) frame. This is delicious, palate-staining Syrah.
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. If we do run out, it seems like there’s another parcel floating around California, but at a price closer to that $30 release.
Hermitage is one of the true beating hearts of Syrah in the world. A tiny AOC (345 acres; by comparison, Cote Rotie is 550 acres) contained on a single hill (location here), it produces wines that are as difficult to source as they are hauntingly beautiful.
This vintage of Colombier’s Hermitage is outrageous, with just the right amount of earthy mushroomy Syrah funk. Loamy soil, shitake mushrooms, sanguine mineral tones, and a core of plum-sauce fruit: it’s a glorious expression of Syrah. Whereas the Crozes is soft, inviting, approachable, this is burly, structured, ageworthy. I mean, there is serious tannic heft here, the kind I usually associate with thicker skinned grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon. Those tannins are ripe and delicious, and they frame the rich figgy fruit and continuing meaty savory notes beautifully. I could go on and on, but I really shouldn’t, because only a handful of cases get imported into Seattle, and I’d love it if we end up with a few unsold bottles for me to stash away into my burgeoning vertical.
Please limit order requests to 8 bottles of Crozes and 4 bottles of Hermitage, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines are in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.