2017 M. Chapoutier "Les Varonniers" Crozes-Hermitage Rouge (Pre-Arrival)

SKU #1363021 94-96 points Jeb Dunnuck

 On a whole other level, the inky colored 2017 Crozes-Ermitage Les Varonniers gives up a big blast of black fruits, black olive, smoked earth, and graphite. Tasting like a top Hermitage with its classic minerality, full-bodied richness, and deep, layered mid-palate, it's going to benefit from short-term cellaring and keep for two decades. I’ve often called this wine the greatest Crozes Hermitage produced, and it’s yet to let me down.  (12/2018)

92-95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Recent vintages of the 2017 Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers have borne more than a passing resemblance to Hermitage, a rare occurrence in the Crozes appellation. This is full-bodied and concentrated, with hints of cocoa and crushed stone joining cassis, espresso, black olive and licorice, while rich tannins leave a chewy impression on the long finish. (JC)  (10/2018)

92-94 points Vinous

 Dark purple. Deeply pitched dark berry preserve, licorice candy, smoked meat and violet aromas are complemented by building spice and olive nuances. Sappy and impressively concentrated, offering bitter cherry, cassis, fruitcake and espresso flavors that are given backbone by a core of juicy acidity. An exotic apricot nuance comes up on an impressively long, spice-tinged finish, framed by youthfully chewy tannins.(JR)  (7/2019)

91 points Decanter

 Deeply coloured. Pronounced vanilla and dark chocolate on the nose, almost malty, with a touch of prune. Full bodied, with ample mouth-coating fine tannins, slightly furry in texture. This vintage borders on over-extraction but manages to retain a sense of freshness, with just enough lightness of touch to give it drinkability. Made from over 60-year-old Syrah vines planted on a southwest-facing granite slope on the border of Hermitage, lieu-dit Varogne. Completely destemmed, then fermented in concrete then matured for 18 months, 70% in tank, 30% in demi-muid, of which 20% is new oak. Drinking Window 2021-2026. (MW)  (4/2018)

Jancis Robinson

 Black fruit with a touch of liquorice and tar on the palate. Furry tannin leading to a lovely violet tone on the length. Plenty of concentration and purity, and lovely herbal notes to finish. Formidable fruit power on the persistence. 17/20 points (RH)  (4/2018)


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Price: $49.99

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.
Country:

France

- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them.
Sub-Region:

Rhone

- Legendary wine-producing region in southeast France. Stereotypically speaking, Rhone wines are high in alcohol, and the majority produced is red. The northern Rhone is best known for outstanding 100% Syrah wines from areas such as Cote Rotie and Hermitage, as well as for fabulous white wines from Condrieu (where Viognier is king). In the southern Rhone, look for spicy, full-bodied wines that are blends of Grenache, Syrah, and other varietals coming from appellations such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, or Rasteau. Wines labeled as Cote du Rhone or Cotes du Rhone Village (a cut above generic Cotes du Rhone) are frequently found here in the US because they often represent some of the best values on the market.
Specific Appellation:

Hermitage/Crozes-Hermitage