Summer begs for light, refreshing, easy drinking wines. They can be thrown down our gullet to quench our thirsts. They are delicious, and certainly satisfy us with their bright, crisp flavors. But even in the heat and humidity, every once in a while, we crave a wine that will stop us in our tracks, slow us down, and command our attention.
For this, we turn to the Northern Rhône: home to the planet's deepest and most soulful Syrah. Because there's always a time and place for one of the world's most noble of grapes – even in summer in Charleston.
So whether you're firing up the grill, throwing together a last-minute cheese and charcuterie board, or having a couch-and-AC kind of night, an unexpected bottle of Syrah will satisfy you like few wines can.
Save $50 if you pick up all 7!
Regular Price: $493.67*
All 7 Price: $439.19* *includes sales tax
Clusel-Roch 'Les Schistes' Côte-Rotie 2016 $69.99
Côte-Rotie–the northernmost part of the Rhône–is flecked with gneiss and schist soils, translating to a distinct minerality not in any other expression of Syrah. 'Les Schistes' is an elegant yet intensely aromatic expression of old-vines grown by Clusel-Roch, a small, multi-generational domaine (just how we like it!). It's bright and silky, bursting with crushed rocks, supple dark fruits and a twist of cracked black pepper. There may not be a more perfect Carolina BBQ pairing.
Véronique Manin makes a one wine from a single, tiny (0.5-hectare) parcel. It lies on the Côte Brune, one of two famed hills of Côte-Rotie. The Côte is steep, VERY STEEP and is composed of dark, schist and more iron-rich soils than elsewhere in the appellation. Only 2,000 bottles of this wine exist! It's filled with notes of blackberry, olive, smoke and damp earth, while the palate is umami-rich and subtly floral with a gripping finish that lasts a lifetime. This is Syrah in its wildest state – a state that made us fall in love with the grape in the first place.
Hermitage is a magnificent hill on the Western bank of the mighty Rhône river. The most regal terroir for Syrah on the planet. This is NOT from there! It hails from it's little cousin to the east: Crozes-Hermitage. An appellation which has long suffered in the shadows of it's mighty neighbor. Given its large surface area and less-desirable terroir, you may think splurging on a bottle of Hermitage is the way to go (and sometimes it IS!). But consider Alain Graillot, universally regarded as one of the greatest producers of Syrah in all of France, and the master of Crozes. In only 15 years, he built his reputation with his vibrant, aromatically-intense Syrah from an unexpected appellation. The 2016 bottling is filled with crushed blackberries, truffle, and olive with a supple, round, and fresh palate. One of the greatest values in all of fine wine.
Domaine A. Clape 'Renaissance' Cornas 2016 $89.99
Cornas is the southernmost red wine-producing appellation in the northern Rhône. Think sunshine, terribly steep granitic slopes sprinkled with limestone, and a fierce wind called the Mistral which blows through it with violent gusts. Auguste Clape was the godfather of this rugged land; he was a pioneer in the renewal of quality wines in the appellation, and demonstrated how to make wines of beauty and character for over half a century. A TRUE ICON. 'Renaissance' is produced from younger Syrah vines. It can age for decades, but is delightful in its early stages. On the nose, find notes of licorice, dried fruit, warm spices, followed by a palate of sheer power and concentration. Discover the best of Cornas!
Domaine A. Clape, Côtes du Rhône 2014 $44.99
Clape's Côtes du Rhône bottling invites you to experience the prestige of this domain at a lower price point. Think of it as declassified Cornas, fruit sourced from just outside the appellation boundaries, but quality never sacrificed. And with a little age on it (2014!), this is an open and honest expression of a beautifully-aging Syrah. Earthy, sun-kissed aromas of violet, leather and tobacco are followed by a plush and supple-fruited palate. So much more than just Côtes du Rhône.
Balthazar's sans soufre bottling offers one of the purest, most transparent expressions of Syrah. Each of his parcels are fermented separately, leading to a range of luxurious and expressive wines, each with their own identity. The 2016 'Sans Soufre Ajouté' is fresh and bright with notes of violet, crushed berries, and stony minerality. One of the easiest-drinking Cornas on the shelf. This wine is alive!
Julien Cécillon and his American wife Nancy have been making elegant, terroir-driven wines since 2011. He is a small-but-mighty producer, and a firm believer that less is more, especially in an appellation as intense as Cornas. His debut wine for the appellation, 'Saint Pierre' comes from a small parcel of 25+ year-old vines. It maintains a silky Burgundian elegance despite its meaty, savory, spicy characteristics. It's bold in flavor, yet gentle and thought-provoking – like Julien, himself. A perfect introduction to this incredible terroir.