Hello friends. In what has become something of a holiday-season tradition, we’ve again been offered an excellent (albeit short-term) tariff on a reference-point Southern Rhone Syrah. Its release price of $16 has held steady (or decreased) for the past eight years, making it a better and better value with each passing year. But let’s aim for something a little lower than that $16 release price:
Normally we offer this a little later in the year, but the November 15 issue of Wine Spectator is going to include the following review, and I don’t want to take any chances: Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”
This is a noteworthy review because it is the strongest Spectator has ever bestowed upon Louis Barroul’s CdR. The ratings of previous vintages, from 2006 through 2014: 90, 90, 88, 90, 90, 90, 89, 89, 90. First off, that is an amazingly consistent track record for a decade’s worth of vintages. And second, this 2015 is the first to break through above a 90pt review.
I believe this also sets it up as a slam dunk to wind up on Spectator’s Top 100 list, and I want us to grab our wine and be long gone before that happens. The last time this wine landed on the list was the 2009 vintage on the 2010 list. That 2009 was $18 | 90pts | 3,000 cases. Today’s 2015 has a lower release price ($16), a stronger review (91pts), and more than 8x production (25,000 cases). Yikes.
Quick logistics note before we move onto the wine itself: 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.
Now then, 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). 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. The ’15 clocks in at 14% listed alc and begins with a nose of blueberry fruit and mineral, cracked black pepper and hoisin sauce. While the texture is kind of an old-world/new-world tweener, the savory wild flavors are Rhone through and through. There is noteworthy balance between fruit and structure here (which helps explain why this always ages beautifully for an inexpensive wine), and that structure takes both the form of nervy/electric acidity and robust/pleasingly rustic tannin. The depth and complexity, the overall sense of balance and class at this tag: unusual for sure, and the reason why we’ve offered every vintage of this since 2011.
Here is how the always-entertaining Louis Barroul describes this vintage: This wine epitomizes what should always be the essence of a true wine. One of the two properties from which grapes are sourced is owned by a childhood friend and the other belongs to my cousins. We have been working together on this wine for 15 years now. Trust and friendship form its basis. The blend of Syrah from Vinsobres with Syrah from Villafranchian terraces in Gard always produces wonderful balance, fleshiness and finesse. You may get to know the 2015 vintage through this wine – the oxblood colour, the depth, sappy character and wonderful round tannins for instance. You can easily sense the intensity with which fruit was imbued in 2015, a truly superb vintage. Successfully ripened grapes combined with freshness and our Syrah vines loved a hot July in 2015. This is exemplified in the magnificent wines produced in 2015 in the northern Rhone valley. The whole point of our Côtes du Rhône is to offer an early drinking wine that also has very good ageing capacity. I recently tasted the 2007 again which was really complex and still young. Welcome to 2015, the finest vintage since 2010. Blackcurrant, camphor, truffle, rose and blueberry.
Because this wine has a history with our list members, because it’s such a stone cold killer for winter parties/weddings, because I’ve seen it age successfully for five or six years despite its modest price point, let’s open it up to first come first served up to 120 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.