So years ago (2000 actually), we attended the first InterRhone exposition in the Rhone Valley, an event dedicated to presenting Rhone wines in groups during presentations within the various appellations. One of the most memorable days was the ‘show’ in Hermitage, with a large number of who’s who producers. It was in a bank building and the various growers were stationed behind teller’s windows presenting their wares.
The majority of the wines were from the outstanding 1999 vintage, there were three producers whose wines stood out even among the power lineup that was presenting that day. One of the three was a house we had read about but had never yet seen in our part of the world, nor had the opportunity to taste. That was Domaine Sorrel. That event made a lasting impression and we spent the next few years trying to find a viable source for Sorrel’s wines. We got a couple of scraps in the European market but were generally unsuccessful in our effort to solidify a steady source.
About a decade later, the Sorrel wines showed up at a local importer and it was a pretty happy day for us when we snagged the tail end of Sorrel’s 2010 Hermitage. A beautiful wine that encapsulated Sorrel’s distinctive style to a tee, it showed depth and presence but also an uncommon elegance. This wasn’t the biggest or jammiest example of the genre. But it did not lack for stuffing and was impressive for its balance and polish.
Fast forward to today and the 2015 vintage. We had never seen Sorrel’s Crozes Hermitage before but the house style was in full array. The Marc Sorrel Crozes Hermitage 2015 showed plenty of dark fruits with insistent undercurrents of minerality, but the wine also had a harmony and presence that set it apart from the rank and file from this ripe, weighty but sometimes California-like vintage. Crozes can be a little curious from the standpoint of quality because the appellation extends from the hillside to flatter areas near the highway. As we say here, hillside Crozes is better than ‘freeway’ Crozes. In the hands of someone like Sorrel, the equation only gets better.
The reviews indirectly speak of the value in that the score was very close to the Hermitage but the Crozes costs about half as much. Josh Reynolds of Vinous saw it this way, “Deep vivid ruby. Ripe blackberry and cherry scents are energized by cracked pepper and smoky mineral accents. Fleshy and open-knit, offering sweet dark berry and violet pastille flavors and a touch of salty olive paste. The peppery note recurs on a long, blue-fruit-inflected finish that’s given structure by mounting tannins…91 points.” The wine definitely has an upscale feel to it, but at a touch over $30 its pretty wallet-friendly for what it delivers.