Posts Tagged Stephane Montez

Relative Values from the Northern Rhône: St. Joseph & Crozes-Hermitage!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_620_330/image.jpg?w=904&ssl=1


First published in The Irish Times, Saturday22nd June, 2019

I wrote a few weeks ago that, given tax and duty, “value” and “cheap” do not always go together when it comes to wine. In Ireland a sub-€10 bottle can be a waste of your hard-earned cash. More expensive wines are frequently better value for money. The two great names of the northern Rhône, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, are beyond the reach of most of us, selling for €50-€100 a bottle. The relative bargains are close at hand; between these two appellations lie St Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. Both can offer great value – although by value I mean €20-€35 a bottle. For that you should get a wine that will transform your dinner into a special event.

In general, the wines of the northern Rhône are lighter in alcohol and more elegant in style than those of the southern Rhône, at times closer to Burgundy than to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. All are made from Syrah, occasionally with a very small percentage of a white grape.

Crozes-Hermitage, once dismissed as poor man’s Hermitage, is now responsible for some very stylish wines. They may lack the structure and concentration of wines from the neighbouring hill of Hermitage, but the best have lovely bright, fresh fruits and can age a little, too – a glass of the 2007 vintage of the Les Rouvres below was a recent highlight.

Farther north, the narrow, 50km-long appellation of St Joseph, covering 26 communes, is bigger but produces less wine than Crozes-Hermitage. It has some fantastic sites and old vines. I strongly suspect quality and prices will continue to rise, but for the moment prices in both regions are reasonable; trying to decide on just four wines this week was not easy.

I have previously mentioned the Crozes-Hermitage from Alain Graillot (€30, Mitchell & Son) and the Cuvée Equinox Domaine des Lises (€24,, Ely 64, Green Man), and they are great wines. In addition to the Terroir de Granit below, Burgundy Direct has the tighter, more mineral Passion de Terrasses 2016 for €31.75. has a great range of wines from the region, including a lovely St Joseph André Perret for €27.50. Wines Direct has the fuller-bodied wines from Domaine des Remizières.

I tasted some spectacular wines from the recently rediscovered appellation of Brézème – check out your local independent for the names Éric Texier and Domaine Lombard. I also discovered a new superstar in Domaine Bott, imported to Ireland by Caubet Wines. Among the negociants, Chapoutier, Ferraton, Guigal, Jaboulet and Cuilleron all produce at least reasonably priced St Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. And most are great value for money.

Crozes-Hermitage 2015 Grande Classique, Cave de Tain
13.5%, €19.95
This has featured before, but it is one of my all-time favourites. Beautifully rounded, ripe yet savoury dark fruits with a good dry finish. A great all-purpose wine, but perfect with roast chicken or pork.
From O’Briens,

St Joseph 2016, Terroir de Granit, Guy Farge
12.5%, €26.50
A lovely, elegant wine with fresh violets on the nose, crunchy, juicy dark-cherry fruits and a light mineral touch. Try it with a plate of charcuterie or some grilled lamb chops.
From Burgundy Direct,

St Joseph 2016, Domaine du Monteillet, Stéphane Montez
12.5%, €31.95
Plump, fresh dark fruits – cherries and blackcurrants – with a whiff of spice and an easy finish. Would pair well with a seared duck breast with black cherries.
From Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin,; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin,

Crozes-Hermitage 2015 Le Rouvre, Yann Chave
13.5%, €34.95
One of my favourite wines. The 2015 is relatively rich and powerful, with harmonious ripe blackcurrant fruits and spicy black pepper. This would handle a rare steak perfectly.
From Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin,


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Rhône Valley: a tale of two wine regions The wines of the southern Rhône and its smaller northern neighbour are like chalk and cheese

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 17th June. 2017

It has always seemed strange that the northern and southern parts of the Rhône Valley are lumped together into the one large area. It’s a bit like putting Burgundy and Bordeaux under the same banner. Separated by a 40km gap, the two regions could not be more different. It is the aesthete versus the gourmand, little and large (literally), chalk and cheese. The south is big, boasting some 30,000 hectares of vines. It is sunny and hot (Provence begins at the southern tip) with rolling hills dotted with the heady herbs of the garrigue, olive groves and ancient Roman ruins. The north is much smaller, about one-twentieth the size of the south. Here, the vineyards cling to impossibly steep terraced slopes. It is too cold to cultivate olives – in the past peaches and nectarines were grown on the valley floor.

The red wines of the north are made from a single variety, Syrah, sometimes with a little of the white Viognier included. Northern whites are made from Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Those of the south are typically blends, and can be made from up to 10 red grapes and nine white. A blend of Grenache with a dollop of Mourvèdre and/or Syrah or Cinsault is more usual for the reds.

Stiff backbone

The northern reds are savoury, elegant and often light in alcohol. The great wines of Hermitage and Cornas have a very stiff backbone of tannin, and keep for decades, but even they share a lifted fragrance and delicacy of the other Northern wines. Do not expect refinement and delicacy (although there are a few very elegant wines) from the south. Instead, you should find warmth, rounded, sweet, ripe fruits, scented with herbs and spice. At least that is what I thought. When I went looking for inexpensive full-bodied Côtes du Rhône in my local supermarkets, all seemed a fairly wimpy 13-13.5 per cent. Hence the hard-to-find Côtes du Rhône below (although it is delicious). I think growers are picking earlier to suit our tastes for lighter wines. Once prices moved over €15, there were plenty of more powerful, rich wines.

Comparative tasting

This week you can conduct your own comparative tasting at two price levels. The Ardèche and the Monteillet are both from the north and pure Syrah; the others are blends from the south. I am cheating a little on the Ardèche, which is a vin de pays, but it is made in the northern Rhône. If you cannot find any of those featured, you should seek out anything with from St Joseph or Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage or Côte Rôtie. For southern wines, a good domaine-bottled Côtes du Rhône (€15-€20) or a Gigondas, Vacqueyras or Rasteau (or even a Châteauneuf-du-Pape) should give you the true power and flavours of the south, as will both the wines below.

Bargain Wine
Syrah 2015, Vin de pays de l’Ardèche, Caves Saint Desirat

Light, cool, peppery dark cherry fruits with good acidity and a dry finish. With pork dishes.

Stockists: O’Briens

Côtes du Rhône Les Galets, Les Vigneron des Estezargues
14.5%, €14.50

Fragrant, with excellent sweet, ripe, warming, elegant strawberry fruits.
Stockists: Quintessential, Drogheda; Brown’s, Portlaoise; Wicklow Wine; O’Learys, Cootehill; Hole in the Wall; Clontarf Wines; The Grapevine, Glasnevin.

Les Hauts du Monteillet 2014 Stéphane Montez

Tantalising violet aromas, succulent dark cherry and blackcurrant fruits with a reviving freshness.

Stockists: 64 Wine; Green Man Wines; Searsons, Monkstown.

Vacqueyras 2011, Domaine Montvac Cuvée Vincila

Big, powerful wine offering intense ripe fruits sprinkled with spice. With robust red meat and game dishes.
Stockists: Wines Direct, Mullingar; Arnott’s, Dublin.


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