Domaine des Amphores Les Iris Syrah 2016
Winegrower: Philippe Grenier
Region: IGP Collines Rhodaniennes
This elegant Syrah from the Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes may lack the cachet of a big name but more then compensates with big flavour in the glass. This attractively priced Syrah is an unblemished master class in varietal character; a spot-on expression of Northern Rhone Syrah raised in the right hands, from its violet inkiness in the glass to its dark berry floral aromas and refreshing palate. This wine is made from 100% Syrah from a vineyard in the Rhodanienne hills just outside of Saint-Joseph. It’s from the outstanding 2016 vintage which Rhône expert John Livingstone Learmonth rates as one of the top three of the last 50 years. On the nose it’s expressive and elegant, revealing beautiful blackberry, blueberry, currents and other floral aromas nuanced by violets. The palate is light and refreshing, with pretty fruit flavours, more Audrey Hepburn than Bette Midler. Soft and round with silky tannins and great finesse, it was made in a bright ready to drink style. This tiny Domaine is little known outside of the Rhône Valley and represents great value for the money.
Véronique and Philippe Grenier’s authenticity, tenacity and talent make them the kind of winegrower anyone in our business would be happy to champion. In 1992, as a young couple just starting off, they moved into an old, rundown house, which had been uninhabited for 18 years. With the house came a half hectare of wild farmland that had belonged to her grandfather. Initially they grew chickens and goats, then in 1994 converted their small plot to a vineyard. Since those humble beginnings they have added other vineyards and now farm 9-hectares. The Grenier’s produce wines of outstanding quality and terroir from Saint-Joseph as well as red and white Vin de Pays.
Véronique and Philippe have always practiced organic farming and were certified biodynamic by Demeter in 2002. Their vineyards, just north of Chavanay, are beautifully positioned at the top of the valley and overlook the Rhône and Alps to the east. Methods are traditional, all vineyard work, including the harvest, is by hand. Fermentations are with wild yeasts, only old oak is used, and a basket press gently extracts the juice from the grapes. The wines are filtered lightly or not at all and minimal sulphur is used. The resulting wines are perfumed, elegant, refreshing and wonderfully delicious!
Les Iris Syrah 2016 is a beautiful, transparent expression of Syrah as grown in the sandy, granitic soils of the Northern Rhone. In the glass it’s a deep ruby with flashes of garnet, and with perfect-pitch Syrah aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plums, black olives and lavender, this wine is joyfully Northern Rhone. One the palate the fruit is abundant but there’s no heat from alcohol (it’s only 12%) or jamminess from over-ripe fruit. Open this wine 20 minutes before serving, then enjoy this aromatic delight in Burgundy stems slightly chilled to 16˚. This combination of authenticity, pedigree and value doesn’t come along often. Cheers!