I was in a position to get a mixed half-dozen case of imports recently for a very good price, so for the next few weeks we will be able to examine a very different range of wines. Old-world France seemed as good a place as any to kick things off, with this 100% Syrah from Northern Rhone as well. In my mind I was already forming some expectations based on theoretical knowledge.
Flavor Intensity: Medium-
Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
Identity: France / Rhone Valley – St Joseph / Syrah
Price: High-priced (~$45)
Long, slow tears
Aromas of stewed, dark berries, smoked meat, pepper
Flavours of stewed fruits, dark chocolate, sour cherries
Very fine tannins
Abrupt finish, but clean
Likely better as a food wine
First we check the label and make some observations – “La Croix de l’Ermite” literally translates to “The Cross of the Hermit”, but the following is more important – Rhone. Syrah. 2009. With five to six years bottle age one could expect the fruit profile to be waning, but this wine was also sealed under screwcap, which is unusual for an import.
From what can be learned about the region and this varietal, I was expecting something warm-climate, juicy and higher alcohol. I didn’t look at this until after the first taste, and saw it was only at 12.5%, quite low for a Syrah-based wine. It could have been a cooler vintage in this instance, but without deeper research it one could not know for sure.
The nose was clean, but the palate seemed closed so I allowed the glass to breathe for a while, and found it became more pronounced after letting it breath for 30-60 minutes. Unfortunately it still lacked the richness I was expecting, as indicated by the lack of terms written about the flavour profile. With little incentive to go on, I resolved to preserve the remainder for another occasion.
As you can see, expectations and reality are not quite in alignment – this is the difference between theoretical and practical knowledge. There are no major faults, but no outstanding features, as though this was the scaffolding or skeleton of a wine – the alcohol and fruit character is there, but it lacks richness and depth. I would mark this as an entry-level French wine that may be best served with food.
Luckily I didn’t have to pay the full RRP of $45 in this instance, but perhaps this has more to do with the obscene taxes we have to pay on alcohol in Australia.
P.S. – I’m now offering personalised wine consults. If you want to expand your wine knowledge in 5 minutes, all you have to do is answer a few questions and click “submit”.