Domaine des Amphores Les Iris Syrah 2015
Please note: Shipment for this wine will be April 2017.
Today’s wine is its own little mini master class in Northern Rhone Syrah, from its violet inkiness in the glass to its dark berry floral aromas and refreshing palate. “Les Iris” is an entry level red wine from Domaine des Amphores. But the only thing entry level about this wine is its price; made from 100% Syrah in Chavanay in the Rhodanian Hills just outside of the Saint-Joseph AOC. On the nose it is expressive and elegant, revealing beautiful blackberry, blueberry, currents and other floral aromas nuanced by violets. On the palate licorice and cloves add to the aromatics in a medium long finish built on fine tannins; it is refreshing in a bright and utterly delicious style. This tiny domaine is little known outside of the Rhône Valley and represents great value for the money.
The Rhone Valley in southeastern France is a region primarily known for its red wines. The region is just shy of 240 kilometers long and is located between the cities of Lyon to the north and Avignon to the south. The region has 16 appellations (Chateauneuf du Pape, Cornas, Cote Rotie are its more famous) that produce both red and white wines of all quality levels.
Véronique and Philippe Grenier’s authenticity, tenacity and talent make them the kind of wine growers anyone would be happy to champion. In 1992, as a young couple just starting off, they took over an old, rundown house which had been uninhabited for 18 years with the half a hectare of wild farmland upon which it sat which 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.
From the beginning Véronique and Philippe have practiced organic farming and were certified biodynamic by Demeter in 2002. Their vineyards, just north of Chavanay including in Saint Joseph, are beautifully positioned at the top of the valley and overlook the Rhône and Alps to the east. Methods are traditional, only wild yeasts are used, old oak is preferred over new; extraction is gentle with a basket press frequently used. The wines are filtered lightly or not at all and minimal sulfur is used. The resulting wines are perfumed, elegant and wonderfully delicious! The best reds have enough structure and depth to age well and develop for 15 to 20 years.
Véronique takes care of the office and sales side while Philippe works the vineyards and cellar. Philippe works in a true experimental manner and develops his techniques through trial and error, constantly evolving his practices depending on what he observes, both in the life of the soil of their vineyards and in the cellar.
Don’t let the price of this wine fool you, Les Iris is not just a juicy quaffer. The aromatics are joyfully, Northern Rhone, something out of a Richard Olney cookbook (ok, he’s technically a Provence guy but close enough.) The fruit is abundant but there’s no heat from the alcohol (it’s only 12%) or jamminess. On the palate it is round and generous, underpinned by acidity, minerals and fine tannins. Serve this aromatic delight in Burgundy stems at a cool 15˚ with this brined roasted pork shoulder. This is a pairing of a Southern France Summer with a typically brisk Canadian winter, and I for one like that. Seriously, this combination of authenticity, pedigree and value doesn’t come along often.