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To all Wine Exchangers,
“No doubt, 2015 in the Northern Rhône has been trumpeted as the latest "vintage of the century." And if one confines the search for analogs to the 21st century, that may very well be true.” – Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate #234

2015 is a truly sensational vintage that should not be missed by any Rhône lover out there. This vintage certainly rivals what was achieved in 2009 and 2010, yet with slightly more consistency, as well as a style all its own.” – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com

Vintage matters.  In places like California, because the sun shines most of the time, the variation from year to year is certainly less severe.  But in other parts of the world the difference between one year and the next can be substantial, literally from crummy to sublime.

France’s northern Rhone region is one of the textbook examples of vintage swings.  When it is not a great vintage, the Syrah-based wines from the region can be lean and aggressive.  But when things go well, the region can hit exceptional heights.  Those vintages are very special, but they don’t come along all that often...perhaps once every five years these days.  If you haven’t kept up with the scribes, or read it in our text, 2015 was one of those special vintages.

Now in the north, achieving a certain level of ripeness is extremely important. When Rhone Syrahs exhibit a lush, ripe character in addition to their natural terroir, they are extremely compelling.  But to achieve that desired ripeness and have the wines still be light on their feet and the fruit exude freshness and bright flavors at the same time, well that’s really a rarity.  In 2015, we have all of that.

The thing is that some folks think the top northern Rhones are also heinously expensive.  Sure, things like Guigal’s La-Las and top of the line Chapoutiers have hefty three-figure price tags.  But, as in Bordeaux, there are a number of outstanding options that are superb efforts in a vintage like this and don’t carry the crazy tariffs.

As long-time players (and huge fans) of the Northern Rhone, these sensible gems are the kind of things we are thrilled to find.  The significant difference in our comparison to Bordeaux is that the Bordeaux chateaux typically produce several thousand cases.  In the northern Rhone, a lot of these come from small vignerons that produce a few hundred.  So, quantities are very modest, even in the best years.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share a few insider picks that are very representative of this gorgeous vintage but have much more palatable prices.  We‘ve been fans of these two small houses for a while, but their 2015s are easily ‘best ever’ efforts.

The brothers Courbis, Dominique and Laurent, took the reins from their father in the 1990s, and have relied on meticulous farming of their vineyards (they own 8 acres in Cornas) to bring their estate into the limelight.  Their winemaking is considered a fresh, modern style and the wines have beautiful fruit and freshness while possessing none of the thick, searing tannins often associated with this village.

Dunnuck was right when he wrote, The Courbis brothers have hit a home run with these 2015s, the finest wines I’ve tasted from this brilliant estate.”

Their Courbis Cornas Champelrose 2015 is one of the value stars from this extraordinary vintage.   Jeb writes, It's a beautiful, elegant, charming Cornas (not something you say very often) that offers terrific notes of black raspberries, currants, incense, spice and violets. Its tannins are sweet, it's already delicious, yet it should evolve nicely for 10-15 years. 94 points.”

This one is in stock and ready to go.

The Coursodons, father Pierre and son Jerome, bring their drama from Saint Joseph.  Terraced hillsides, granite and limestone soils, pronounced minerality, St. Joseph has much in common with Hermitage with the exception of reputation and prices.  But folks like the Coursodons represent the ‘best foot forward’ for this appellation and their 2015s are superb efforts.  These are not your father’s Saint Josephs in that they are pure and polished as opposed to rustic.  But in reflecting the areas unique terroir, they are old souls, classy from top to bottom.

Here you simply pick your level.  The Coursodon Saint Joseph Silice 2015 (Dunnuck 91-93, Advocate 92) is their value go-to and represents top flight Syrah from a blend of various parcels, an expression of vibrant dark red and black fruits.

Dunnuck called it, “…classic…elegant…a seriously good value” while Wine Advocate noted it, “…outperforms its entry-level status.”  Regardless, a helluva wine for the money.

The Coursodon Saint Joseph L'Olivaie 2015 (Advocate 93, Dunnuck 94-97) definitely plays with the ‘big boys’ from across the river in Hermitage.  A 600-case limited production effort from 60-year-old vines, there is more muscle, more meat, and more rocks, but still great purity and sensibility.

Dunnuck noted, “…the 2015 Saint Joseph L'Olivaie is a rich, opulent, thick Saint Joseph that delivers on all accounts! Crème de cassis, crushed flowers, violets and licorice aromas and flavors all emerge from this hugely concentrated, power-packed 2015 that has a broad, expansive texture, moderate acidity and sweet tannin.”

Finally, there’s a couple cases of the Coursodon Saint Joseph Le Paradis Saint Pierre 2015 (Advocate 95, Dunnuck 95-98).   It’s extremely limited…and well worth the money. Dunnuck writes, “The 2015 Saint Joseph Le Paradis Saint Pierre is another blockbuster from this young vigneron that's up with some of the best Saint Josephs ever made. Currants, roasted meats, beef and tons of mineral notes all flow to a concentrated, ripe, powerful wine that has beautiful concentrated, notable purity and ample underlying structure.”

Amen.

In closing, we’d like to quote James Molesworth of Wine Spectator in his piece on the 2015s, “Your toughest decision is likely to be not what to buy but how much”.  Look over this exciting pair of producers or have a look at our complete 2015 list which includes more gems we haven’t talked about today that are also in-stock and/or available on a limited pre-arrival basis with delivery this spring.

Good Hunting...
Courbis Cornas Champelrose 2015
 

 

94 Points!   Moving to the Cornas releases, 2015 is an incredible vintage for this estate. Their 2015 Cornas Champelrose comes from slightly younger vines and was destemmed and brought up primarily in neutral barrels. It's a beautiful, elegant, charming Cornas (not something you say very often) that offers terrific notes of black raspberries, currants, incense, spice and violets. Its tannins are sweet, it's already delicious, yet it should evolve nicely for 10-15 years.  The Courbis brothers have hit a home run with these 2015s, the finest wines I’ve tasted from this brilliant estate. - Jeb Dunnuck
ONLY $39.98

 

Coursodon Saint Joseph Silice 2015
 

 

91 - 93 Points!  The largest production release is the 2015 Saint Joseph Silice, which is a mix of estate parcels aged in a combination of demi-muids and barrels. It offers full-bodied aromas and flavors of wild strawberries, black raspberries, cassis and crushed violets, a rocking texture and sweet, polished tannin. It’s probably the finest vintage of this cuvée to date.  Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate #228, December 2016
ONLY $37.98

 

Coursodon Saint Joseph L'Olivaie 2015
 

 

94 - 97 Points!  Aged 14 months in barrels and demi-muids, the 2015 Saint Joseph L'Olivaie is a rich, opulent, thick Saint Joseph that delivers on all accounts! Crème de cassis, crushed flowers, violets and licorice aromas and flavors all emerge from this hugely concentrated, power-packed 2015 that has a broad, expansive texture, moderate acidity and sweet tannin. This blockbuster wine will benefit from 2-3 years of cellaring and keep for two decades. - Jeb Dunnuck
ONLY $54.98

 

Coursodon Saint Joseph Le Paradis Saint Pierre 2015
 

 

95-98 Points!  The 2015 Saint Joseph Le Paradis Saint Pierre is another blockbuster from this young vigneron that's up with some of the best Saint Josephs ever made. Currants, roasted meats, beef and tons of mineral notes all flow to a concentrated, ripe, powerful wine that has beautiful concentrated, notable purity and ample underlying structure. It’s going to take 5-6 years for this puppy to shed some baby fat, but it’s just packed with Cornas goodness. - Jeb Dunnuck
ONLY $69.98

 

 

 

 

 

 

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