With an average yearly rainfall of 840 mm, the northern Rhône Valley receives much more precipitation than the southern Rhône. This explains the many differences between the wines produced in these two regions. The most majestic Rhône wines – Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Hermitage –are all from the northern part. Nearby are other top quality terroirs such as Cornas, Saint-Jospeh and Crozes-Hermitage. Unfortunately, the Saint-Joseph appellation has considerably expanded since 1969 and this has led to irregularities in terms of quality compared to the original zone, which was grown on the steep granite and river banks. The best Saint-Joseph wines are located around the towns of Mauve, Glun and Tournon. On these hills, the Syrah grape expresses the minerality of the soil which is very different from that of the plains between Tournon and the Condrieu appellation.
In northern Rhône, vines are perched on hillsides of eroded granite terraces and benefit from an ideal exposure. Syrah rules over the region, but the white grape varieties Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier are also perfectly suited to the schist and mica terroirs. The Condrieu appellation has a similar soil composition, and the Viognier grown there develops a unique and intoxicating scent. Producers can add up to 20% of Viognier to the Syrah, the essential element of the wines produced in the other appellations.
The 2012 Crozes Hermitage Terre d'Éclat is more forward, rounded and supple than the 2013, with medium-bodied depth and richness, low acidity and a charming personality. It has lots of black raspberry, spiced meats and toast aromas and flavors, and will drink nicely for 5-7 years. The Wine Advocate, Jeb Dunnuck - 89-91 points
The only 2013 that I was able to taste, the 2013 Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Paul, is an outstanding Syrah that was completely destemmed and aged all in two- to five-year-old barrels. It too has an inky purple color as well as lots of meatiness, black currants, peppery spice and vanilla oak. Showing more and more meatiness with air, this medium-bodied,...