LVT 2019 r 2019 wh Natacha is the sister of Yann Chave; the name Aléofane has literary origins. She pursued philosophy studies at Grenoble, and worked in the PTT, the French Post Office. In her mid-30s, she made her first wine, the Saint-Joseph, in 2004. The style is modern, and quality has always been high on the Crozes-Hermitage blanc, half Marsanne, half Roussanne planted around 2009. Launched in 2012, it carries good elegance, and local features, the 2015 an excellent ****(*), STGT wine, the 2017 a stimulating **** of character, the 2018 also ****(*), a generous, striking wine. This white Crozes is invariably in the front rank of the appellation each year.
I prefer the white to the two reds, which have been subdued recently, although the domaine has been hit by mishaps such as extreme flooding and hail in different years. Both the 2019 Crozes and Saint-Joseph were 15° on the label, pointing to inherent balance issues, and an absence of easy harmony.
LVT 2013 r 2013 wh A mainstream domaine with fairly worthy wines. The Crozes Rève d`Ange red is a wine to allow some bottle age - 4 years or so.
LVT 2009 r New cellar built by this young couple, started with 2009. Nicolas Chevalier has worked at Kendall Jackson, a big enterprise in California, also Boschendal in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh A mini-co-operative, with ten people involved, in the southern sector. They are the second largest producer of Crozes-Hermitage after the Tain Co-operative. There is biodynamic working of the vineyards. Name changed from plural to singular Clairmont in late 2000s. The red wines such as the Crozes Classique offer up-front fruit and are easy to drink: both the 2015 and 2016 were **** w.o.w. wines, bang on the button.
LVT 2019 wh 2019 r STGT domaine, where artistry rules, with commendable attention paid to precision from each plot. François Ribo is pictured. There is low sulphur use in the vinification, only a little applied at bottling. They are wines that benefit from decanting; all possess a relaxed charm.
The whites are nicely traditional, with plenty of Roussanne used, and can be more striking than the reds. The very laissez-faire approach is probably better suited to white wine making. A lot of the wine is sold to the CHR trade in Paris, as well as Japan. The 2015s were very successful, and there are some rockabilly 2014s as well: St Jo Opateyres white, St Jo Pitrou white, Crozes-Hermitage Les Bâties red. A wine to note, with excellent freshness given the hot, dry summer, was the only occasionally made on its own 2017 Crozes-Hermitage Les Bâties blanc [1947-48 Marsanne]. Small amounts of sound Hermitage red and white are also made. For wines of character, more and more on the outside of this homogenised world, this is a great address
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh There are organic practices here, without the blah-blah. The first wine was made in 1985: Alain had worked in industry before. There is lovely fruit on the classic when drunk in its first two years. The La Guiraude Crozes red, a selection of the best casks each year, is worth cellaring for four to five years to allow its proper evolution - it can live for 20 years in the best vintages, such as 2005, 2015. 2018 saw the introduction of their 1 hectare at Larnage on its own, a site that gives red fruits and fine tannins, a counterpoint to the racy, Southern instincts and black fruits of the Les Chassis Crozes red.
The white Crozes has shown recent progress, even if late 2010s vintages are rendering it thicker than before. There are small amounts of frisky red Saint-Joseph and a youngish vine Hermitage, which was altered in 2017-18 through grafting on its clone Syrah of old massale Syrah taken from the Clape domaine at Cornas. This is an enterprising domaine that has held the flag high and handsome for Crozes across the international markets. Alain had not made a drop of wine or lived on the land until the mid-1980s.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh The Belles also cultivate 20 hectares of apricots under brother Jean-Claude - hence they are a typical, mixed activity domaine at Crozes-Hermitage. Philippe [pictured] is in charge of the wine side. The vineyard was officially registered as organic in 2014 after the first trials in 2008. There is high, consistent quality. This is a benchmark domaine, the wines possessing agreeable fruit and sound tannin. The style is modern, but there are complex implications, and some wines are STGT, notably those from Larnage, such as the 2013 Roche Pierre red and the 2014 Terres Blanches white. Excess oaking is no longer an issue. The Crozes-Hermitage Louis Belle red is a serious, structured wine that keeps and evolves well. The Hermitage red and white are both pretty good, also.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh A domaine that gives wines of character, not mainstream. Roland the father sold the crop to Pascal at Vacqueyras for bottling under the Betton name until 2006, the wines were vinified by the Chéron family of Pascal Frères 2003-2006. From 2007 it has been an all Betton family affair, led by daughter Christelle who started on a small scale in 2003.
The Crozes vineyards have risen from 4.86 ha to 6.5 ha, all of them near La Roche de Glun, the southern sector. There are 12 rows of 1982 Marsanne that form their 0.139 ha of Hermitage blanc. Christelle has a particularly good touch with the whites: the 2015 Crozes Crystal white was a **** STGT wine, the 2018 Crozes Circé (the new name for Crystal after an interventionm by Champagne Roederer) a savoury, very long, mini-Hermitage ****(*) wine. For the reds, Christelle has moved from 228-litre cask raising to 500-litre and 600-litre from the 2018 vintage. She has also backed off the use of new oak, which was never high. The much better Crozes red is the Caprice, which is based on Syrah dating from the 1950s and 1980s, from three lieux-dits at Roche de Glun. From 2020, there is also some vin de pays Syrah and Marsanne, planted to replace apricot trees. The family still have peach and apricot trees, under 10 hectares now.
Prototype old-fashioned domaine - whole bunches, old wood used Only cellar where I have tasted with a lamb wandering around, climbing on cases, pallets etc
LVT 2017 r 2018 wh First wine made in 2005. Jacques Breyton works 8.5 hectares of vineyards, but vinifies 5 hectares, and sells the rest of the crop to the négoce trade. The approach has changed from traditional to low degree drinkability for both red and white. The better red is the unoaked version. There is also a range of Vin de Pays. He has worked organically and biodynamically since 1998.
The family wound up the domaine before the 2005 vintage, with son Florent retaining 10 hectares and joining the Cave des Clairmonts. The cellars and one-third of the vineyards were bought by Philippe Jaboulet of paul Jaboulet Aine after the sale of their business. Collonge was a mainstream operation on the southern plain, of no great distinction. They had a lot of local and passer-by sales.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh This has been an organic domaine since his father's time way back in the 1970s. Laurent left the Cave de Tain in 1989, made his first wine in 1990. He also grows fruit, notably peaches, some apricots. The wines are marked by juicy, agreeable fruit, plenty of style to them - as befits the southern zone near the River Isère. The Crozes red Clos des Grives is always a well made wine capable of an attractive second phase after five years; it was ****(*) in 2015, 2016 and 2018. The Laurent Combier Cuvée L, early drinking Crozes red, was a ****(*) wine in 2015, and a **** w.o.w. wine in 2018. The 2015 white Crozes Domaine Combier was a **** STGT wine. Laurent's son Julien gave the domaine good impetus in the late 2010s, and the wines have a little more swagger recently
LVT 2017 r 2015 wh An articulate young couple who took over in 2005. There is a trio of red Crozes from Beaumont-Monteux in the southern sector, with sandy clay soils giving well-fruited wines. The Lièvres red was a bouncy w.o.w. **** wine in 2015, while the straight Crozes red 2015 was a stylish **** wine also.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh A couple with a young, keen son, Sébastien, who started in 2000. The cellar was built in 2006. They have been officially organic from 2012 (organic practices since 2009). Biodynamic methods are also used. The wines have improved after the early ones being too much in thrall to their advisors' sense of conviction. 2010 showed progress, and this has been confirmed into 2015-2020.
There are three red Crozes [from Mercurol, La Roche de Glun and Beaumont-Monteux], two white Crozes, and a red and white small production Saint-Joseph from Tournon. The entry level Crozes red Inspiration [steel vat only] has been modest, but stepped forward in 2020, a 12.5°, w.o.w. ***(*) wine, good tooting, exactly as Crozes rouge should be.
The next stage up for the Crozes reds is Terre d’Éclat, deeper then Inspiration, and the Paul, a selection of the best casks, is indeed the most serious, best wine of the trio. The whites are all calm, relaxed, precise. The Crozes Nathan blanc is based on late 1970s Marsanne from stony soils at La Roche de Glun, the 2020 a ****(*) wine of character and discreet vitality. The Saint-Joseph blanc, called Lenny, comes from the very good site of Coteau Saint-Joseph at Tournon, a vineyard bought in 2009 before prices went off the scale; it runs between ***(*) and ****.
LVT 2013 r 2011 wh The first sales in bottle started in 1990. Father Jean-Louis used to sell crop and wine to Chapoutier. About 35% is bottled - around 35,000. This is a domaine where the approach to wine is very business-like. The family has large fruit interests in the area south of Nîmes.
A couple both in their late twenties from the Ardèche, the Chomarats took over the southern zone vineyards of an ex-Co-operateur in 2005, starting their career in wine. Over 60% was sold in bulk at first, but the aim is to concentrate on bottling as much of their own wine as possible. The 2006 was the first vintage in their own cellars.
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh Pierre Combat has been a high ranking member of the Cave de Tain, the Co-operative. He and his son Nicolas departed from it in 2017, their first vintage that year. They work 18 hectares of Syrah and 2 hectares of Marsanne, based mainly on Les Chassis, and Mercurol. The Crozes white Coteau des Pends was a sound ***(*) wine in 2018; the Crozes red was an overly thick wine in 2018, but an enjoyable, tuneful ***(*) wine in 2019
LVT 2019 r 2017 wh Younger generation changes here in vineyard work - soil is tilled more, sprayed less, and since 2013 the domaine is officially organic. In the cellar, no cultured yeasts are now used, more working and stirring of the lees, white wines are no longer fined. The classic domaine Crozes red is an elegant, relaxed wine, the 2019 finely tuned, scented, a **** wine despite hail.
Overt use of new or young oak can dominate the Machonnières red at first, but it becomes a gentle, stylish drink after around five years. The Coteau des Pends white Crozes can be one of the most elegant whites of the whole appellation, providing the oak use is restrained. François grows good vegetables.
LVT 2007 r 18-hectare domaine bought by Delas in March 2006.
LVT 2018 r 2019 wh Franck Faugier returned to the family domaine in 1998, when there were 15 hectares of vineyards and 8 hectares of fruit, mainly peach and nectarine. The fruit was stopped in 2014. Franck left the Cave de Tain in 2003; his grandfather Lucien made and sold his own wine, and his father Roland sent the crop to the Co-operative. The domaine has been officially organic across its 15 ha of Crozes-Hermitage and two hectares of Saint-Joseph since 2017. The Saint-Péray, part of a swap of vineyards with Stéphan Chaboud, will be organic from 2022.
Les Chassis, the top wine from the oldest Syrah, massale, dating between the 1950s and 1970, is the clear winner. However, Franck has taken steps since 2014 to upgrade the entry level, early drinking wine Esquisse, by selecting it from specific sites, rather than being the leftovers after the top two wines, Les Galets and Les Vhassis, had been chosen. The result in 2018 was a both w.o.w. and STGT ***(*) wine. The standouts in 2015 were the ****(*) Les Chassis and the **** Les Galets, while the 2016 Les Galets red and the 2016 and 2017 Les Chassis red were all **** wines. Franck has taken to vinifying his Saint-Joseph red called …..? using whole bunches; it comes from late 1990s Syrah on the Coteau des Rodets at Ozon, just north of Tournon. From the early 2010s there has also been a fair Saint-Péray from 0.9 hectare on limestone. In 2011 Franck set up a small merchant business with his friend Fabrice Gonnet, who has some family vines at Hermitage. The range includes red and white Hermitage, and a good Condrieu.
Franck lost 90% of his Crozes-Hermitage Syrah harvest in a catastrophic 15 minutes of hail in mid-June, 2019, meaning there will be just one, limited production Crozes red for that vintage.
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh Outward-looking and motivated, Maxime Graillot is a good receiver of his father's baton. He is determined to make wine in his own style, emphasizing elegance. This has swiftly become well-known and fashionable wine. The Crozes from his own vines is called Domaine des Lises, with two Crozes reds, one of them from massale hand grafted old Serine vines, called Vignes Franches. After an experiment with 2,000 bottles of zero added SO2 on the purchased harvest Syrah that makes the equis equinoxe Crozes-Hermitage red, the 2018 became entirely zero added SO2 for its full 37,000 bottle issue; that 2018 was a real Road Runner, a **** w.o.w. wine. The two merchant wines from Saint-Joseph and Cornas are sold under the name equis; both come from good sources. There is a very good white Crozes from the marvellous site of Les Pends at Mercurol, the vines dating from 2009.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh Julien’s great-grandfather and grandfather, both called Louis, cultivated vineyards in the mid 1900s. He initially did Hotel and Restaurant studies, then obtained a licence from the University at Suze-la-Rousse for wine commerce and marketing. There were stints with Château La Nerthe, chez Franck Faugier of Domaine des Châssis at Crozes, and two years at Chapoutier while building up his domaine, which he launched in 2018. The family owned 0.6 hectare of 1985 Syrah at Beaumont-Monteux was previously rented by Domaine Melody. The rest of his 4.5 hectare vineyards he has planted. This is a promising address, the young vines red and white both attractive and accessible in 2019.
LVT 2017 r 2017 wh A domaine of traditional leaning that started to bottle in 2002. Its wine was previously sold to merchants like Gabriel Meffre for the Laurus cuvée, and Guigal is still supplied. The red Crozes can be workmanlike, while the more select Crozes red, Les Coteaux, containing good amounts of 1950s and 1960s Syrahat Gervans and Larnage, can ascend to **** level, as in 2014 and 2017. The 2016 Crozes reds were downbeat, with the vineyard swept by April hail, a safety first policy on ripening the result.
The Fayolles possess a good range of mature vineyards, notably well-placed sites towards the west end of the Hermitage hill - Beaume, Greffieux. The 2016 Hermitage red was a rich and stylish **** wine, for example. The oak presence has been growing, and the red wines can be very reduced - meaning they stink on the bouquet, something that indicates lack of airing during vinification and raising. Decant the reds, therefore. The white Hermitage is genuine, with under 1,000 bottles made: the 2016 was a complete ****(*) wine. The family also grows apricots - 14 hectares of them mainly at Mercurol, a little at Crozes-Hermitage and Larnage - and pears.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh A domaine that in the past held a close association with ex-restaurateur Patrick Lesec, a merchant. That meant OAK. There are modern winemaking techniques, including micro-oxygenation that may advance the ageing process. The biggest wines benefit from cellar ageing to allow integration. Quality is reliable, the style modern. Perhaps there is a little less oak, and a bit more style, in the final vintages of the 2010s, years when I have noted the degree on both red and white rising, the 2019 Crozes Christophe, the top wine, 15.5° on the label, the Christophe 2019 white 14.5°. The **** 2019 Christophe red actually held enough natural richness from the old vine fruit to absorb that high alcohol, but it's a close run thing these days.
Overall, I have found it a shame that there hasn't been much questing over the four and a half decades that I have known the domaine and the family, no real search for extra pockets of flair or character. Having said that, when the vintage is very good, the wines usually correspond to that standard. One can take the example of the 2018 Cornas, of which there are 3,600 bottles: once it has aborbed its 50% new oak, it will reveal genuine cool fruit and good length, a ****(*) wine when tasted pre-bottling.
The whites often provide the truest, best drinking: back in the 1970s, this was a domaine known for its white wine quality under grandfather Alphonse Desmeure. Hence it was good that the 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Particulière white was a ***(*) STGT wine. The 2015 Hermitage Cuvée Émilie red, from the granite west end of the hill, was a knock-out ***** wine, almost six stars, pre-bottling, while the 2018 was also very good, a ****(*) wine. The Saint-Joseph red has been a good recent performer, too, the 2018 ****(*) and the 2017 ****
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh Colombier has deservedly become a well-known, high class domaine at Crozes. They first bottled their wine in 1991 - previously all had been sold to the merchant trade. Father Gaby died in 2018, but the brothers still grow fruit, notably apricots. These are bold wines with often oily textures. Extraction has been an issue, but since the early 2010s it has been less apparent, and the recent vintages have truly hit a sweet spot, for both red and white.
The Crozes special Gaby red is very good - **** in 2016 and 2019 and ****(*) in 2017 and 2020 - and the consistent quality, fleshy Hermitage red was **** in 2014, 2015 and 2019, ****(*) in 2017, 2018 and 2020. It rerpresents value, and is a wine to give enjoyment over around 20 years. The white Hermitage is made from 1942 Marsanne on the loess soils of Maison Blanche, one of the best white vineyards; both the 2029 and 2020 were ****.
The Crozes-Hermitage white is always ***(*) to ****, a 100% Marsanne from mature vines at Larnage and Mercurol. Its style is suited to la table, although the tender 2020 could serve as a refined aperitif as well. The Crozes Gaby white is a wine of stature, includes some 1902 Marsanne on the marvellous Les Pends slope at Mercurol. The 2017 was a classy, potentially complex ****(*) wine, with the **** 2018 traditional, up to giving a white Hermitage a run for its money, a glycerol-based wine, with the 2019 and 2020 both ****(*) mini-Hermitage wines also. Only very limited amounts of it are produced, up to 1,500 bottles.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh A domaine to follow. The wines went through a slightly technical phase in the early 2010s, but recently have given a very good expression of the free running dark fruits from the galet stone soils of Beaumont-Monteux. The crop was sent to the Tain Co-operative until 1997. Luc Tardy is a qualified oenologue, very energetic and motivated, sticks quite a lot to his own company, and shows the approach of a thinking man. The fruit is less punchy and more streamlined than that of Pont-de-l'Isère and La Roche-de-Glun next door. The Crozes Vieilles Vignes red is taken from a mix of Syrah that dates from 1946 and a range of years from 1965 to 1981; the **** 2018 was well structured and stylish, the **** 2019 a wine of authority, sunny concentration.
LVT 2012 r 2007 wh Official organic vineyard status from 2001. The first bottled wine was in 1989. The old 35,000 bottle average or 40% of the production was hit when the domaine had big problems with its 2003, which threw a very large deposit. Now 20,000 bottles are produced, and the rest is sold in bulk. The fruit can be persuasively succulent. Some wines can dry with air exposure. Stéphane Cornu is an individualist, somewhat out of the mainstream loop, and makes wines that please him - keeping wines.
LVT 2017 wh 2017 r A young newcomer with vineyards in Pont de l’Isère, at the southern end of the appellation. The white Crozes Perles Ivoire [70% Marsanne, 30% Roussanne] was a ripe, upfront ***(*) wine suited to la table in 2017, a good effort. The 2017 Crozes reds were so-so, the best of the trio the *** Perles Noires
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh An address to note, with promise turning into achievement from a committed Questor vigneron. The domaine is in the southern sector at Beaumont-Monteux. Gaylord is an ex Co-operateur who reverted to the family domaine of 5 hectares in 2002. The vineyard is now 8.5 hectares. He left the Co-operative in 2008, and sold the crop to Paul Jaboulet Aîné. 1st wine in 2011 from 0.7 hectare, vinified chez David Reynaud of Domaine Les Bruyères. His grandfather made his own wine until 1956, and Gaylord built his own cellar in 2014. The vineyard is worked under the HVE label - Haute Valeur Environnementale - which takes into account bio-diversity. There is a definite Beaumont-Monteux imprint, with saline and black olives notes, in his reds, notably the principal cuvée called Lhony.
The lightly oaked Crozes white La fille don’t J’ai rêvé is from 2007 vines on the classic galet stone clay-limestone soils of Beaumont-Monteux, the Roussanne usually harvesting more than the Marsanne. The 2020 was nicely wild, a **** wine of character.
The Lhony Crozes red is from the last plot harvested, and receives a longer vinification than the more fruit forward, early drinking Ghany red. It moves between ***(*) and ****(*).
LVT 2016 r Organic Crozes-Hermitage red from young vines.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh A domaine based in the more hilly, granite-toned sector of Crozes-Hermitage, all officially organic from 2013, which is signalled on the labels with the word Bio. Since 2013 there has been no use of SO2 during the vinification. The Crozes vineyard has increased from 11 to 14 hectares since the late 2000s, the increment based on the commune of Gervans. A notable card is that the vineyard is mature, averaging over 40 years. They work especially good Marsanne vineyards. The Habrards have always made good white wine. The white Hermitage is always genuine, and full: the 2015 a ****(*) and the 2016 a **** wine, with the Crozes blanc a mini-Hermitage ****(*) STGT wine in the very good white wine vintage of 2020.
The red Crozes has been gently improving, and comes in a very drinkable, unfussy style. The top Crozes red [no added SO2 during vinification] was named Valérie in 2016, when it was a good drinking **** wine, and Kévin in 2017, when it was a big structure, mini-Hermitage ****(*) wine; in 2019, the zero SO2 Crozes Grand Classique red was a pretty, natural **** wine. The low production Saint Joseph red, from Saint-Jean-de-Muzols, is good as well, the 2016 a **** wine, the ****(*) 2019 a most tuneful, high appeal STGT wine.
Laurent started in 1998. The family also grows apricots and peaches, and their Apricot juice is served in Paris hotels. 60-65% of the wine is sold to Sweden. Laurent is selling through the internet more and more.
LVT 2019 r 2015 wh Pierre Gaillard's daughter Jeanne making a debut at Crozes, along with a St Joseph red. Fine wines. There are two Vin de Pays whites, Roussanne and Marsanne from the asparagus growing area east of Hermitage and north of Valence, and a Syrah that was exuberant *** wine in 2015. The Crozes producer name is Famille Pierre Gaillard.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh Lucie Fourrel's parents were Co-operateurs at the Cave de Tain; she works 10 ha of Crozes, up from 3 ha when she started, and 3 ha of apricots in the southern sector of Les Chassis. Her first vintage was 2010, using cellars in Tournon. She worked in international commerce for five years, then did stints at Clusel-Roch and Vincent Paris in the northern Rhône and at Château de la Tuilerie at Costières de Nîmes. There are three red wines, and the old Syrah vine fruit is fermented without much destemming - their fruit goes into the Saint-Jaimes wine, which was ***(*) in 2015 and a very commendable ****(*) in 2016. All three 2016 red Crozes were good, **** to ****(*), the classic red a **** STGT wine. These are low SO2 use, organic wines.
Lucie's husband has also just started with his own domaine, Domaine Le Bel Endroit, at Saint-Joseph. Lucie's sister Nancy joined the estate in 2015, prompting the change of name to Les Quatre Vents. 40% of the 2015 crop was fermented with whole bunches. The whites here are very good; La Rage is 100% Marsanne, while Les Pitchounettes is 100% 2007 Roussanne. The 2015 Crozes-Hermitage whites were both very good - the recently introduced La Rage an STGT **** wine (also **** in 2016), and Les Pitchounettes a very commendable ****(*) wine. Both wines were **** in 2018, too.
LVT 2018 r 2014 wh The son of Marc Sorrel from Hermitage, Guillaume and his chum Caso run a vineyard agency called Septentrionale which supplies teams for pruning, attaching, de-leafing and general vineyard tasks. They have vineyards at Croses-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and in Vin de Pays. In 2015 the domaine received a cash injection when Maison Nicolas Perrin became an investor. Given their origins, it is not surprising that the two vins de pays – the red Gamay, the white Viognier – are really promising. Both are very precise, well drawn. The Crozes and St Jo reds are stylish, not big wines. The Crozes-Hermitage Les Alexandrins 2015 red was an en finesse ****(*) wine, the 2017 a dense, promising **** wine. Vinifications have been done at Mercurol; from 2018 the new cellar in Tain has been used.
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh A sparkling domaine on biodynamic and organic cultivation. David Reynaud has used own cuttings from 1950s Syrah to propagate young vines, even those for his IGP Syrah east of Beaumont-Monteux. He left the Co-operative in 2003, and makes accomplished, vigorously fruity wines that offer open pleasure. A fruity, modern take Cornas was added to the range in 2009 - biodynamic harvest purchased from Matthieu Barret of Domaine du Coulet. This was an eye catching ****(*) in 2018, a vigorous wine with raw energy.
The Crozes-Hermitage David Reynaud Beaumont red is from purchased organic crop, and the 2015 was **** w.o.w. wine, as was the biodynamic 2015 Crozes Georges red. The Crozes Les Croix red is highly recommended; it includes 1950s Syrah, is a serious wine, and was ****(*) in both 2015 and 2017, **** in 2016. David's IGP wines from Châteauneuf-sur-Isère, where there are clay-limestone soils that resemble Les Chassis of Crozes, are extremely good, and really extol fun, fruit-packed drinking. The 2019 Syrah was a **** w.o.w. wine, all the more impressive due to some of the vineyard being hit by hail. The ***(*) 2018 IGP Les Petites Bêtises white, 90% Marsanne, 10% Roussane, was also w.o.w.
Magnums of a jolly Syrah-Grenache are produced with fellow organic-biodynamic growers Matthieu Barret of Domaine du Coulet at Cornas and Stan Wallut of Domaine de Villeneuve at Châteauneuf-du-Pape; it is called Les Trois Barbus - the three bearded ones, and the **** 2016 was a good party wine of high appeal. David also has five hectares of apricots, cherries and plums.
LVT 2016 r Catherine Fonfrède’s sister is married to Philippe Belle of Domaine Belle at Larnage. First bottling in 1992. Officially organic since 2013. The wines have been straightforward, with higher spots in some vintages. The 2016 red Crozes was an accomplished **** wine
LVT 2007 r Big shake-up following the 2003 purchase by the Chéron family (Burgundy, Vacqueyras, Gigondas domaines Pascal). M.Arnavon still works the vineyard. Classic red now only vat-treated, new red wine called Les Hauts de Mercurol. Much needed changes being done.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh Until 2010 Denis Larivière sent his crop to the Cave de Tain; following the death of one of his sons in a diving accident in 2006, Denis decided to join forces with a young French-Dutch couple, Marlène Durand and Mark Romak, both in their twenties. Marlène's family have lived at Tain for some generations, Paul Durand being her grandfather and ex Mayor and deputy of Tain (the M Chapoutier street on way to station named after him). They also cultivate 11 hectares of apricots and 3 hectares of peaches. The 2010 was vinified in a garage, but the 2011 in a new cellar on Les Chassis at les 7 chemins. Roussanne and Marsanne were planted at Mercurol in 2011, while there is some 1950 Marsanne at Larnage for the Crozes-Hermitage Chaos Blanc white, introduced in 2014.
The Premier Regard and the Etoile Noire stand out, the latter based on Syrah from the 1970s: both wines were **** wines in the tricky vintage of 2018, the **** Etoile the prefrred wine in 2020. There is a young vines cuvée Friandise red, and a Syrah IGP Petite Folie! No herbicides have been applied since 2010; the Chassis vineyard soils are worked, the Larnage, more slope soils, not yet.
The two Crozes blancs are gaining in authority, the entry wine called L'Exception, 70% Marsanne, 30% Roussanne planted together in 2011 at Mercurol, some sand in the galet stone clay-limestone soils. The **** 2019 was enjoyable, neat, in the instant, suited to a wide range of dishes. The Chaos Blanc is 70% Roussanne (the 2011 planting), supplemented with a priceless 30% of Marsanne [1945, 1950] drawn from loess-granite soils at Larnage right along the boundary with Hermitage. It is a ***(*) to **** wine that is about half new oaked, and merits fine fish, a large glass, un beau moment.
From 2018-19 there has been a small quantity Saint-Joseph blanc from height at Saint-Désirat, a Saint-Joseph red, and a Saint-Péray from the good site of Amour de Dieu; they are called Marc & Marlène, both from young vines, part oak raised.
LVT 2007 r The Chéron family own domaines in the Southern Rhône at Vacqueyras (the Pascal business) and Gigondas, also Burgundy. Reliable quality, cleanly made wines.
LVT 2019 r 2017 wh Southern zone of Crozes-Hermitage domaine, based on the southern areas of Mercurol - easy fruit emphasis. The range is broad, and quality is on the rise. The Terres d'Arce wines, notably from Hermitage and Cornas, have improved since around 2010, and now hit the **** mark pretty consistently. Across the board, there has been gradual improvement in the clarity of the wines, their fruit more decisive. The Saint-Joseph Sainte-Epine is a good wine, but set to be phased out as a St Jo due to the altitude of the vineyard [legislation from 25 years ago, forbidding the appellation to ascend too high, ironic in the context of climate change]. Since the early 2010s soils have been worked more than in the past. The magnum only Crozes-Hermitage N°29, made from 1950s Syrah, is a good special wine (Sébastien Chevrol pictured hand punching its cap in an egg). The family also grow apricots, peaches, cherries, and son Nicolas has studied at Montpellier Wine School.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh Jean-Pierre Mucyn used to work in the industrial sector in the North of France, and is now established in the firmament at Crozes-Hermitage, having started from scratch. The wines are very carefully made, and come with a regular elegance. The 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Les Entrecoeurs red was a real beaker of dark fruit, a ****(*) wine. The white is gentle and can serve for aperitif, as well as going along with food. The Saint-Joseph Les Carats is 100% young Roussanne: the 2015 was a stylish, STGT **** wine, the 2018 also ****. The reds have begun to take shape, with both the Crozes and the St-Joseph displaying sound quality in recent vintages; the Saint-Joseph Les Salamandres red 2015 was a delightful ****(*) wine when tasted pre-bottling, the 2016 a stylish **** wine. There's a very light Cornas called Aquilon, from high up, young vines as well.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh Philippe Jaboulet was in charge of the vineyards at Paul Jaboulet Aîné before the company's purchase by the Swiss Frey family in January 2006. He was the member of the family closest to the soil and to the daily realities of winemaking, and branched out into Crozes with his part of the vineyard legacy, joined by his wine school trained son Vincent. The domaine they bought, Domaine Collonge, was tired, and catered for local tastes. They had much to do there, including selling off old stocks of wine made by the previous family. Their first complete vintage was 2006.
There are Hermitage and Crozes vineyards, and quality is now assured. The 2015 Ermitage red was a ****(*) wine, pre-bottling, the Ermitage white, 100% Roussanne from the old PJA vineyards, a ***** wine in 2015 and ****(*) in 2018. The 2015 Cornas was also a ***** wine when tasted from cask. The Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Nouvelère red I consider to be their best Crozes; the 2016 was an impressive, genuine ****(*) wine, the 2018 also ****(*) pre-bottling
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh Straightforward wine, with improvement noted since about 2009. The Pradelle nursery business is now selling 350,000 plants a year, 80% of them Syrah. "Demand for the Syrah has accelerated since 1998," comments Jean-Louis. Jean-Louis is President of the Growers Union of Crozes-Hermitage. There are now three red Crozes, with Les Hirondelles, made from 1970s Syrah, a ****(*) wine in 2015 when cask tasted. The Crozes-Hermitage domaine red has risen from 80,000 to 120,000 bottles recently.
From 2009, there has been an interesting and good new white, the "Courbis" Crozes-Hermitage. Son Antoine is now running the show, and the two white Crozes are on the up: the 2015 Domaine Pradelle white Crozes, from the esteemed slope of Les Pends at Mercurol, was a **** STGT wine, the 2017 a clear drinking ***(*) wine, the 2018 a wholesome **** wine.
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh Les Picaudières is one of the best red Crozes-Hermitages - great pedigree, good structure, rich and capable of complexity with evolution. I expect this 10.5 hectare domaine to provide arch examples of the northern granite in their red wines; the 2016 Les Picaudières did just that, an STGT ***** wine, and even in the hot vintages, its stamp of red fruit, floral notes comes through. The whites are led by Marsanne from the 1930s and 1965, the white vines on loess soils. From 2017, there have been two whites - Stéphane has split the old Marsanne vines apart, while the "new" domaine white Crozes includes the first Roussanne (2014). The soil is tilled by a mare where feasible. The Roussets grow a few apricots on the hillsides.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh Denis Basset's first wine was in 2007. He also grows flowers and vegetables. His main Crozes, Etincelle, means “spark” in French; Denis was electrocuted on the 11 August 2004 when cleaning out a vat, 25,000 watts, but lived to tell the tale. This is the preferred wine, with less oak used. His father Lucien, also a nursery man and horticulturalist, retired from the Tain Co-operative in 1999, and Denis delivered his crop there until 2007. The oldest Syrah, around the domaine, were planted by Lucien in 1968, and contribute to the oaked La Fleur Enchantée Crozes red, which is more of a keeping wine than the Etincelle. The soils are worked, the vineyard has been worked organically since 2017, which will be come official in 2021. There is also a half hectare of 2001-02 Syrah on granite terraces at Arras across the River, which make the Saint-Joseph red.
LVT 2018 r 2012 wh Established high quality grower, good commitment to detail, and sensible use of oak. Extraction has been an issue. Vineyards in the southern zone of Crozes have grown from 5 to 14 hectares. Emmanuel is potentially one of the bright talents. His first wine was in 2001, he the son of a viticulteur. There are now three Crozes reds, with the Les Trois Chênes and the new Au Fil du Temps, both including 1950s Syrah, on form in 2015 - both **** wines when tasted pre-bottling. Les Trois Chênes was sophisticated, harmonious ****(*) in 2017, too.
In 2013 Emmanuel took over the working and production of wine from his father-in-law Bernard Faurie's land at Saint-Joseph - 1.7 hectares, mostly Syrah on an excellent site at Tournon - Dardouille - while he has another 1 hectare that could be planted at St Jo as well. Since 2012, every vintage of Dardouille has been either **** or ****(*) - the 2013, 2016 and 2018 all ****(*).
LVT 2016 r 2014 wh Co-operateurs at Tain 1965-87. All reds bottled since 1995, all whites since 1998. The reds are better than the whites. The Château Curson is some way ahead of the regular red wine. Refined style of a modern leaning, efficiency prevails over soul. Oak is apparent on the Château Curson red and white.
LVT 2017 r 2015 wh Gilles went solo, departing the Tain Co-operative, in 1996. He uses no herbicides, and actively works the soil. The winemaking is modern, with in the past an emphasis on extraction: this started to ease from the late 2000s. The Papillon is an immediate, well fruited wine for young consumption. Recent winemaking has seen an increase in reduction, so decanting is often advised. The Saint-Joseph red is a good, consistent perfomer, even if there is noticeable oak as in 2017, while there is a steady Hermitage red from the lower West end of the hill - in 2015 it was an accurate terroir ***** wine. Gilles also has a Cornas on the go, the 2015 ****(*) pre-bottling. Since 2013 Gilles has worked with an optical sorting table for the harvest.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh Traditional, even rustic winemaking - wines could be fresher at times. These are all northern zone wines, the reds more on restraint than exuberance. Whites are on the up, and are genuinely local, well suited to local cuisine. Whole bunch use can mean a vegetal side is present in the early years of the red Crozes and Hermitage.
The 2015 Hermitage Les Dionnières red was an STGT ****(*) wine, pre-bottling, aided by the supreme success of the Les Diognières site in 2015, while the Crozes red La Cuvée Fayolle was also a ****(*) STGT wine - good going! In 2017, my preferred Crozes red was the **** La Cuvée Nicolas, a graceful wine with good character. The 2018 Crozes reds Grande Seguine and La Rochette were both **** wines pre-bottling, reflecting the relative success of the northern sector in that hot vintage.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh The name changed from Fayolle Fils & Fille ["impersonal, sounds like big business"] to Laurent Fayolle with the 2019 vintage. It is a progressive domaine, revitalised by the young generation, father Jean-Paul, the twin of Jean-Claude at Domaine Fayolle J-C & N, having sadly died in 2008. It is a high class address.
These are refined wines, and some have STGT characteristics - the ***** 2015 Les Dionnières Hermitage white, an example. The whites are notably good, the Crozes Les Pontaix blanc a favourite (the 2016 a **** STGT wine). Clear fruit and a leaning towards elegance is the house style. The Clos des Cornirets [pictured] just south of Gervans is one of the top three vineyards at Crozes, really stamping its wine from one year to the next. The 2016 Crozes-Hermitage Les Cornirets Vieilles Vignes red was a Rhône connoisseur’s dream wine at ****(*), and its 2017 version was a ****(*) STGT wine, straight off the crumbled granite.
The Fayolles have started a merchant business, with crop purchases, under the name of Laurent & Céline Fayolle: from this range comes a good Saint-Péray called Montis, from mature Marsanne vines; the 2018 was an excellent ****(*) STGT wine, with great finesse given the vintage.
LVT 2007 r All the wine has been domaine bottled since 2004-05 – before part of the production was sold in bulk to Rhône valley merchants such as Guigal. The wines show local character and an earthy honesty when on form.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh An STGT domaine on the white soils of Larnage, but the wines have been sometimes unstable in the past, less so these days. The winemaking is hands-off - laissez-faire: low-key use of oak, only natural yeasts. There are stylish wines, with the emphasis on soft fruit, and they also qualify for w.o.w. status. The family has a pedigree in wine - Olivier came back to winemaking in 1987. The 2015 Croix du Verre Crozes white was **** STGT wine, while the 2018 was a ****(*) sphere of abundance, convincing and stylish. The 2015 and 2017 Crozes Croix du Verre reds were also **** wines, but the two 2018 Crozes reds were unconvincing
LVT 2013 r A merchant venture with the son of Marc Sorrel and his partner in Domaine Les Alexandrins, Alexandre Caso, joined by two others. The red and white Crozes wines are from purchased crop, while the Côtes du Rhône red is a wine purchase.
LVT 2006 r Biodynamic at Cornas (Cécile), organic at Crozes-Hermitage (Sébastien). Set up in June 2007.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh Father Bernard grows fruit, and is the man of the soil. Yann has taken the domaine forward to greater specialisation in wine, and it is now an accomplished, organic estate. There is exuberant fruit in the classic red from this domaine situated on the plain. The Rouvre, formerly known as Tête de Cuvée red, is some way ahead in depth, finesse and interest, and shows well after a two to three year spell in the cellar; the **** 2019 was a suave, well-defined wine, for example. These are good, funky wines with sleek textures.
The 2015 Crozes-Hermitage white was a charming **** wine, as was the 2018 - **** and charming, authentic. The 2015 Crozes red was a muscled **** wine also. Yann's Hermitage red, from 1978 Syrah on Beaume, was **** in 2017, and ****(*) in 2018, an uptick in quality.