Hello friends. Louis Barroul is justifiably famous for southern Rhone wines from Saint Cosme’s home base of Gigondas. But ever since I attended a lunch with Monsieur Barroul last summer, I’ve been chasing his wines from the Northern Rhone. The combination of the passion with which he spoke about the region and the outlandish QPR of the wines was completely seductive, and it sent me on this hunt.
You might remember that we secured a painfully small parcel of Louis’ 2011 Cote Rotie, so small that we offered it in an Eliminator (December 2016) instead of a regular offer. For today’s wine, our parcel meets the requirements for a prime time slot, but only barely.
2015 Saint Cosme St. Joseph
Exciting wine for a number of reasons. First, the vintage. I’ve written a few times previously about the hype surrounding the 2015 vintage across Europe. In my experience to date, the wines are living up to the talk, and this is a fine example.
Second, the region (see map; we’re in the long yellow strip in the north). Have we ever offered a wine from St. Joe? Checking archives… checking archives… okay, one time (2009 Domaine Durand), but that was back in September 2012, almost five years ago! Now Saint-Joseph, like Crozes-Hermitage, has a mixed reputation, and that’s deservedly so: the quality coming out of these regions is indeed mixed. Which only makes it more important to have a trusted source making the wine.
And if our list members don’t trust Louis Barroul by now, I don’t know what to say. We’ve as a group guzzled gallons of his all-Syrah, $15 Cotes-du-Rhone over the years. This is the next step up the Syrah ladder in his portfolio, and here’s how the master describes it: 100% Serine (an ancient form of Syrah). 70% destemmed crop – 30% whole clusters. Granite sand in the vale of Malleval. Twelve months’ ageing: 20% in new casks – 40% in casks used for one wine – 40% in casks used for two or three wines. Saint Joseph is our most consistent wine year after year. When I taste what this terroir was able to produce in a vintage like 2014, I am overcome with a sense of admiration and amazement. Obviously, 2015 offers something well above the norm – extraordinary density, mellowness, substantial length and a kind of reticence that bodes extremely well for future aromatics. The part of wine that is not water or alcohol represents around 3% and mostly comprises organic components. Although mineral elements are in a tiny minority, they are nevertheless the ones that outlive all the others in a wine. When the organic components are teetering on the brink of demise, minerality remains. This is what makes the ageing phase so fascinating. It is also why mature wines cannot cheat with their inherent character, and why the ultimate truth lies with mature wines. This 2015 Saint Joseph, laden with fruit, youthfulness and organic components, makes you wonder what the future holds for it. I have no doubt that it will be glorious, but I also think it will change a lot – as always, time holds the answers in all their splendid glory. Peony, wild blueberry, liquorice and tobacco.
No reviews out of bottle yet, but two solid barrel reviews for this beauty:
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 91-93pts.”
Vinous (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 91-93pts.”
What can I add to those three notes? I’ll just say that the fact this is 100% Serine is pretty cool (there are arguments about whether this is a clone of Syrah or an entirely different variety, but one thing is for sure: it only exists in the northern Rhone), and also that the savory/mineral side of this was emerging in a major way during a recent tasting, with smoldering charcoal and bacon fat and Kalamata olive all offering complements to the core of plummy fruit. It possesses that 2015 sense of palate-staining intensity, plenty of old-world acid charm, and a sanguine bloody character just made for slow-braised lamb shanks. Glorious.
Please limit order requests to 6 bottles (actual allocations might be closer to 2-3 bottles), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.