Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Jimmy Cocktail

Looking for interesting wineries in the Northern Rhone

Posted by Jimmy Cocktail, Sep 26, 2011.

I'm going to be spending some time in the Rhone Alps region of France and I'll be able to shake free for a couple of days in the Northen Rhone. I'm looking for good/interesting wineries to visit while I'm there. Any suggestions?


Reply by dmcker, Sep 26, 2011.

Here's an old post of mine that might provide some interesting alternatives to the usual suspects:

Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010. Edit

If you want to get a different view of syrah from the Rhone, brodyluv, try some from the 2006 and 2007 vintages. 2006 tended to produce larger, more powerfully fruited wines, and are a year older, so they might be a place for you to start. The 2007, as far as I've been able to tell so far, is a more complete vintage allowing rounder, more complex wines closer to perfection, often allowing a more elegantly feminine character to appear in the wines. Lots of lovely wines from both the northern and southern Rhone, and many of the 2007 Côtes du Rhône blends from the south have high syrah content, quite reasonable pricing, and are just plain delicious.

Since the '90s, thanks to Robert Parker and others and the ensuing realities of the marketplace, Rhone wines have tended to get bigger, with more use of oak. Guigal was one of the leaders in this trend, so you might try some of their wines, too.

Personally, I prefer a more oldskool approach to Rhones, and like GregT I find some of my finest drinking experiences from the northern Rhone. Unfortunately the dynamics I referred to in the previous paragraph mean that a) wines there have been steadily getting bigger and more 'modern'/'international', meaning more manipulated, and b) prices have been steadily rising. Prices for wines are way up for the consumer, but part of that is because for producers prices for land are up, and prices for capital investment to keep up with the trend also bring upward pressure that seem, for many of them, to necessitate a number of accommodations and compromises.

St. Joseph is an area of the northern Rhone that has become a port of refuge of sorts. Costs are lower for the producers there and consequently to us as consumers. A number of iconoclastic trend-resisters have been creating a community there where less manipulation means more of the true essence and detail of the grapes and terroir in their wines. I've found that the St. Joseph reds of Domaine des Miquettes are reasonably priced, delicious old-skool Rhone syrahs. Because they are more traditional, though, they take a few years to open, so if you get the 2006s that are now on the market you should lay them down for a few years before opening. You might also keep your eyes peeled for any Dard et Ribo St. Josephs or Crozes Hermitages you might run across, as well as those from Herve Souhaut (Domaine Romaneuax Destezet) who is located just outside the Rhone classification and thus usually has vin de pays Ardeche on his labels. His Sainte Epine is actually from St. Joseph, though not labeled as such, and is worth the hunt.

Most of these wines are likely a bit past what you likely introduce in your resort seminars, brodyluv, but I thought that if you were interested in finding out more about syrah you might like to give them a try.


Reply by GregT, Sep 26, 2011.

Jimmy - to piggyback on D's comments - are there any wineries you particularly like?  If so, why not try sending an email to some of those?  Also a lot of people are negociants - they buy grapes and make wine.  Guigal for example, or Chapoutier.  Some of those wines are really good too.

D has some pretty nice suggestions - Dard et Ribo for example, is a pretty small producer, it's imported in NYC by some acquaintances and it's relatively inexpensive but really good.  Not big though if that's your preference.  Also you might keep in mind that a lot of those producers are pretty small operations - mom and pop or more likely  husband and wife.  They're not all set up like Napa, which has set the standard for wine vacations.  But if you call ahead and talk to them, they're likely to spend some time with you and you'll have the real people talking to you, not someone hired to run a tasting room.

You'll have a really interesting time. Post some notes on your visit and good luck!

Reply by williamsimpson, Sep 27, 2011.

The 2007 and 2009 vintages have been exceptionally good, and the latter will probably be becoming available now. You are not specific about where in the rhone alpes you will be staying but this is food and wine country. The higher up areas near Annecy have really superb dry whites. Lyon is gastronomic capital. And half the fun is tasting new varieties of wines and new foods for which there are no translations in the phrase books. 2009 is also a great year for beaujolais (the cru villages like Fleurie, Brouilly etc) and Burgundy. Be sure to win over people you meet by saying Bonjour Monsieur (or Madame) before you get started.

On our French holidays we have found it always worthwhile to eat in winstubs/cafes/brasseries near the vineyards, for excellent local wines (a frothing biodynamic alsacien burgundy with rabbit stew for example, or choucroute with a sharp complex riesling) 

Lucky you



Reply by williamsimpson, Sep 27, 2011.

The aforementioned Guigal's basic 2009 Cotes de Rhone Villages, remains one of the very best wines I have tasted this year (with an entrecote, cuisson "a point")

Reply by Jimmy Cocktail, Sep 27, 2011.

williamsimpson, I'll be out between Chambry and Albertville and yes, I do expect to be spending a lot of time enjoying the culinary aspects of the region as well. I'm essentially in the area for a vacation I just figured that I would be remiss if I didn't at least take a couple of days to visit the region. Greg, that is a great idea about dropping them a line before heading over.

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