With all the hub bub about the overall greatness of the 2015 and 2016 Rhone vintages, and knowing in the future both will soon be considered back-to-back classics, a slight nod must be given to the north in 2015, and the south in 2016…. But honestly, it is ALL GOOD! In the north we were particularly drawn to the value found in brilliantly structured Cornas (which is the southern most AOC of the Northern Rhone)….yes, this is pure Syrah like no other and will require some years to unfold. Likewise, I should also note, Gigondas (which is the most northern AOC of the Southern Rhone) also produced classics based on its perfectly ripened Grenache (St Cosme is a great example!), and offers exceptional value when compared to the rising cost of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. You will need to be patient for both regions and wines to evolve for maximum enjoyment. So why the synopsis?
Last week I was blown away when I sampled a St. Joseph (Northern Rhone) from Domaine Jolivet, specifically the 2015 “L’Instinct”. Blown away, because here we had the true pleasure of a tremendous vintage in our glass! No waiting! No if and buts! Just all joyous drinking! And that’s what one should expect from St. Joseph, but I had almost forgotten!! So this is the young Bastien Jolivet’s primary production (about 1200 cases). The 100% Syrah comes from vines ranging from plantings in the 1950s and 1970s that have been sustainably and organically farmed. About 60% of the fruit is destemmed. Fermentation is indigenous and spontaneous in the cellar. The wine is raised in a combination of 228-liter barrels and 600-liter demi -muids with 5-7% of total being new.
No, don’t get me wrong! The 2015 L”Instinct” is not remotely close to being a wimp! Just the opposite! There is big and rich structure holding everything together quite nicely, and will do so for years, but the wine delivers such wonderful gustatory deliciousness now. Deeply colored purple! Aromas of black fruits, fennel, olive tapenade, a little tar and violets too! What a mouthful….can you say BIG GULP! Expansive and and so comforting on the palate. Tannins yes, but satiating! And no one gets short changed on the lingering length. Ebbing is a good descriptor. Anyway, I feel fortunate one of my small importers in SF came up to show me this tender “morsel”….. this one has no ratings or reviews that I know of….. proof is in the bottle and price. Bring on the BEEF BOURGUIGNON!