2010 Northern Rhone

Paying respects to a fantastic varietal


I don’t do Syrah justice on these pages.

Coming from around the world, the wines often do not get the distribution they need because of a soft market. On the other hand, Northern Rhone reds, which are either completely Syrah or predominantly Syrah, are bought up quite quickly. This shows a continued enthusiasm for the market segment and makes reviews certainly less important.
The Northern Rhone produces a fairly broad selection of Syrah, though not in great quantity vis-a-vis many other major wine producing regions. In fact, the three most important appellations in the region, Cornas, Hermitage and Cote Rotie, respectively account for about 100, 150 and 200 hectares of Syrah. To put that into perspective, there are chateaux in Bordeaux that exceed 100 hectares!
These Northern Rhone Syrah wines don’t face the market demand of the greatest Bordeaux. In that respect, they are great values in today’s marketplace, but that doesn’t mean that they are cheap. These are some of the greatest expressions of Syrah on earth, and if you’re a Syrah lover, as I am, you’ll want to taste through some of the great names to help complete your understanding of this adaptable variety.
I can understand the hesitancy to jump in with prices that easily flirt with triple digits, but there is hope for those wishing to stay within a more reasonable budget. In some of the greatest appellations, there are young producers still establishing themselves, producing wines that can often outperform wines at similar prices. For example, Vincent Paris in Cornas makes Cuvee Granit 60, which clocked in at under $50 for this tasting.
Even better options exist if you decide to branch out into some of the lesser known regions, such as Crozes-Hermitage and, in particular, St. Joseph. With these, you do face challenges. These are larger appellations with greater variety amongst producers and sites. There’s a fair share of mediocre wine produced here, but the great news is that much of the best wine from each appellation is priced roughly the same as the mediocre wine. Now, all that’s left is tracking down the wines to try.
Rhone image via Shutterstock
I can point out several of my favorite wines, and happened to have just tasted eight wines in a blind tasting. The notes are here, but before that, I would like to point out that not all wines are created equal, even if they are the same wine. What am I going on about now? One of my favorite topics: vintage variation.

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Top 8 Northern Rhone Reds

Dard Ribo & Crozes-Hermitage (2010)
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Cote Rotie Cote Rotie Vieilles Vignes Rouge Rouge Coteaux Eric Texier R (2010)
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Viognier Domaine Barou A. O. C. St Joseph (2010)
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Gonon Pierre & Jean Saint-Joseph Pre Arrival (2010)
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Crozes-Hermitage Graillot (2010)
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Saint Cosme Saint-Joseph (2010)
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Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 60 (2010)
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Saint-Joseph Domaine Faury (2010)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Couple observations: 1) Oddly, the prices are positiviely correlated to the amount of acreage, whereas the scarcity would normally dictate inverse correlation. (Cornas in my experience doesn't have as many higher priced wines as Hermitage, and Cote Rotie pretty much takes the cake for pricey Syrah.) Maybe Cornas's relative lack of familiarity in the market keeps the price in a narrow band just below Hermitage's upper end, or maybe my observation is incorrect, but that's been my experience. I think the entry level for Hermitage is about $40, Cote-Rotie $50 or more, while Cornas is a bit lower than that, high $30s. These are entry levels, mind you.
    2) N. Rhone Syrahs are consistently very good to great, even from some lesser AOCs, like Crozes-Hermitage, which can have some really good values compared to Hermitage, and St. Joseph, which I usually find a bit tarter and less savory, a good match for duck and even some fish dishes. Prices can be prohibitively high for the non-1% wine lover at the top, while not in the collector stratosphere of Petrus, the first growths and the rarest Burgs, but the "low end" bottles are a comparative deal in the $25-50+ range. I have hardly ever had a bottle of red from any N. Rhone AOC that disappointed me. I buy with a lot more confidence than I do when buying Burgundy and Bordeaux, even S. Rhone, where disappointing "value" wines and unimpressive "name" wines have let me down.

    Oct 16, 2012 at 3:41 PM

  • Snooth User: coltspam
    1327708 34

    very well

    Aug 02, 2013 at 11:01 PM

  • very nice

    Aug 12, 2013 at 11:36 PM

  • Snooth User: CarBuyWhiz
    1332598 26

    it's good one

    Aug 17, 2013 at 2:14 AM

  • brilliant

    Sep 06, 2013 at 12:54 PM

  • excellent

    Sep 11, 2013 at 1:56 AM

  • Thats fantastic

    Sep 13, 2013 at 12:04 AM

  • superb

    Sep 20, 2013 at 10:53 AM

  • fabulous

    Sep 24, 2013 at 5:39 AM

  • Its superior

    Oct 09, 2013 at 5:13 AM

  • nice

    Dec 18, 2013 at 12:18 AM

  • good

    Dec 18, 2013 at 12:20 AM

  • Snooth User: kaputscrub
    1451630 33

    Its very good :)

    Jan 10, 2014 at 12:02 AM


    Jan 16, 2014 at 4:36 AM

  • Snooth User: gamysplash
    1487309 35


    Apr 04, 2014 at 4:49 AM

  • Snooth User: rainmagma
    1501318 36


    May 08, 2014 at 2:40 AM

  • Snooth User: burylot
    1501708 36


    May 09, 2014 at 1:33 AM

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