Tasting notes: Louis Barruol vinifies several of the finest parcels the Crozes-Hermitage appellation has to offer, and the result is exactly what a Crozes should be—a gateway wine, serious but a bit more approachable than its bigger sibling, the grand old Hermitage. This juicy, blueberry-and-leather-infused Syrah with a long finish is ready to drink tonight.
Producer: Louis Barruol is an indefatigable force in the Rhône, the 14th generation in his family to be making wine in Gigondas. On what was once the site of a Roman villa, Louis’ cellars show spectacular remains of Roman vinification vats carved into the limestone. Here, Louis works with different grape varietals from the Rhône, vinifying each parcel separately. He’s taken to acting as a micro-négociant, working with top growers in the region who still work with Sérine. Producing only a few precious barrels of each cuvée, Louis is helping to save the authenticity and identity of old Côte Rôtie parcels. Together, he and Kermit Lynch blend Northern Rhône wines and a Southern Côtes du Rhône Blanc and Rouge from a selection of Louis’ purchases.
Vineyard and Winemaking: Wines from the fabled hill of Hermitage undoubtedly represent the pinnacle of Syrah worldwide. However, these bottles are extremely limited in quantity, and they tend to be priced accordingly. Enter Crozes Hermitage: akin to an extension of Hermitage on the left bank of the Rhône, Crozes produces wines that are capable of hinting at Syrah greatness at bargain cost. That being said, quality varies tremendously here, as the appellation features both stony slopes ideal for producing wines of character and richer soils on flatter land—not nearly as noble a terroir. Louis Barruol has intimate knowledge of the northern Rhône’s vineyards, so he sources this Crozes from granite hillside plots that yield deep, chewy reds with concentrated aromas of smoke, black fruit, and graphite. Vinified traditionally (with stems) and aged in barrels without filtration, this is real-deal Syrah that demonstrates the strong personality—and value—to be found in Crozes.
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