The storied reds of the Northern Rhône in France have been delighting wine drinkers for hundreds of years. Made nearly entirely from Syrah with an occasional sprinkling of Viognier, these bottles can often age for generations.
Northern Rhône is small and only made up of a dozen appellations. But it still manages to set the standard on how global Syrah is judged.
Check out some of our favorites below.
Vidal-Fleury 2017 Brune et Blonde (Côte Rôtie); $85, 94 points. This perfumed, smoky Syrah (with just a dusting of Viognier) highlights the duality of grapes matured on the light-hued gneiss and silica soils of the Côte Blonde alongside the darker clay and schist soils of the Côte Brune. Fresh-footed yet supple cassis and raspberry flavors are etched by shards of stone and acid. Matured three years in a combination of new and older oak, it’s a subtly spiced red that finishes on lingering notes of licorice and soft, feathery tannins. Best now–2027. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. —Anna Lee C. Iijima
Domaine des Remizières 2018 Cuvée Christophe (Crozes-Hermitage); $38, 93 points. Sprays of cinnamon, clove and cedar accent plush black currant and blueberry in this varietal Syrah sourced from vines averaging 65 years in age. Matured 15 months in a combination of new (70%) and one-year old (30%) oak barrels, it’s a rich, sultry wine shaded by crushed stones, smoke and licorice. Ripe, silky tannins make it ready to enjoy now but this structured wine should improve through 2030. French Libation. —A.I.
Ferraton Père et Fils 2018 Les Miaux (Hermitage); $85, 93 points. Fragrant raspberries, cacao and musk perfume this plush, softly textured Syrah. Matured in oak barrels for 14 to 16 months(10% in new barrels), it’s a richly concentrated, plumy red spiced with cinnamon and anise. Soft in tannins and yielding in fruit, it’s an Hermitage that’s approachable much younger than most of its peers. Ready now but should hold through 2030. Sera Wine Imports. —A.I.
Jean-Luc Colombo 2018 Terres Brulées (Cornas); $64, 93 points. Terres Brulées, or burnt earth, aptly describes the nose on this enticingly smoky, singed Syrah. Vinified from fully destemmed grapes and matured 21 months in oak (10% new), it has joyously youthful black-cherry and cassis flavors. Kissed by vanilla and framed in silky tannins, it’s a fresh-footed expression of Cornas that’s drinking at peak now through 2028. Taub Family Selections. —A.I.
Cave de Tain 2018 Nobles Rives (Saint-Joseph); $35, 92 points. Notes of lime and crushed stones lend verve to this full-bodied varietal Marsanne. It’s a blossomy, fresh-fruited wine packed with crisp, white-peach and grapefruit flavors along with a lingering smoky, herbal finish. At peak now–2030. Total Wine & More. —A.I.
Château de Saint-Cosme 2018 Crozes-Hermitage; $36, 92 points. Fresh sprays of granite and salt accent bristling redcurrants and cherries in this fresh, mouthdrenching Syrah. Full bodied yet invigorating on the midpalate, it’s a pure-fruited but deeply mineral wine. Fine, supple tannins make it ready to drink now but the wine should stay at peak through 2028. Craft+Estate–Winebow. —A.I.
Emmanuel Darnaud 2018 Mise En Bouche (Crozes-Hermitage); $35, 92 points. Ripe black-plum and cassis flavors are shaded by fur, smoke and flint in this plump, spicy Syrah. Vinified using fully destemmed fruit and matured partially in new oak, the rich, ample red has a finish marked by easing, feathery tannins. Ready to drink now, it should maintain peak through 2028. Fruit of the Vines, Inc. —A.I.
Jean-Claude et Nicolas Fayolle 2018 La Cuvée Nicolas (Crozes-Hermitage); $35, 92 points. Enticing notes of sun-scorched bramble, licorice and black-currant candy introduce this refreshingly svelte expression. Made from 100% Syrah, it’s crisply concentrated with zesty black-cherry and berry flavors along with sprays of violet and crushed stone. Soft in tannins and airy in style, the wine is at peak now through 2028. Kysela Père et Fils. —A.I.
Guigal 2018 Crozes-Hermitage; $35, 91 points. Drops of blackberry candy and violet perfume announce this ebulliently fruity, forward Syrah. Cassis and black-cherry flavors are intensely ripe yet pristine, elevated by subtle streaks of granite, smoke and licorice. Soft and silky on the palate, the wine is irresistible young but should hold nicely through 2028. Vintus LLC. —A.I.
Maison Les Alexandrins 2018 Crozes-Hermitage; $29, 90 points. Notes of grilled plum and cassis preserves are shaded by scorched meat and bramble in this four-square Syrah. It’s a ripe, penetrating wine, with bright acidity and fine, silky tannins that are immediately welcoming. This lovely introduction to the Northern Rhône is best enjoyed before 2024. Vineyard Brands. —A.I.