Wow, what a mouthful of a wine! (literally and figuratively...) I caught this bottle out of the corner of my eye while searching through the "Rhone" section in the liquor store. I had to grab it because as I'm currently reading Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch, he notes that the Crozes-Hermitage region of the Rhone is nothing like the Hermitage region at all! As both are northern Rhone, both produce Syrah. However, Crozes wines are produced on flat soil, while the true Hermitage is on hills - which apparently produces a more exquisite wine.
So I decided to go for it! I wanted to try the lower end to become familiar with it, and to be honest, I didn't find this wine unpleasant. Although I do warn you all - this wine needs some time to breathe before drinking. That means either decant for about 45 minutes or let the wine sit in your glass. Otherwise, you'll be slightly disappointed upon first sip!
Isn't French Wine So Mysterious?
2007 Crozes-Hermitage by Domaine Des Hauts Chassis
The D-2010 Scale
2007 Crozes-Hermitage by Domaine Des Hauts Chassis (Rhone, France)
Appearance (10 points possible): deep, dark inky purple-red color, dark enough to stain your clothing quickly, non-filtered - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): What an absolutely wild aroma. Wild blackberries, red berries, leather, earth, a touch of spice and herbaceousness that fills your nose. Licorice, herbs, and a touch of oak. Honestly, smelling this, I felt like it was straight from a hot forest desperately waiting for rain. - 20 points
Taste (10 points possible): Let this wine breathe in a decanter for about 45 minutes. It's a meaty Syrah. Lots of roundness and body, full in the mouth with velvety smooth tannins. Dark, jammy like flavors matched with a cellaring oak characteristic (refer to previous forest comment in "Aroma"). - 8 points
Balance (5 points possible): Once this wine opened up, I thought it was perfectly balanced. No one attribute stuck out over the other. There was some good harmony on the palate. - 5 points
Finish (5 points possible): Finish was smoothly drying with notes of oak, toast, earth, bacon, tobacco, and herbaceously straw-like. Lingered on your palate for quite some time and was not cloying. - 5 points
Packaging *Introduction to the D-2010 Scale*
Quality of Package (5 points possible): Beautiful bottle and beautiful natural cork. - 4 points
Label Marketability (10 points possible): It's a traditional French label, so it's not going to stick out at you. I would say this is what the serious wine people like to see, but it's not consumer-friendly. - 5 points
Other (5 points possible): I give props to the cork printing here, but that's about it. We're missing the marketing extremes that make these points worth it! It's the whole package, after all. - 2 points
Total Points: 89 points
Overall Thought: I guess I'm totally fooled by the flatland Syrahs because I liked this wine. For some reason, this caught my attention. It was exactly what I needed - something more intricate than all the whites I've been drinking with a touch of earth, spice, and herbaceousness. I wanted less fruity flavors and I got it. I felt like this wine hadn't been opened or seen the light of day for years. It was like all the oldness was coming out from the bottle and it absolutely thrilled me. (By this point, I'm sure you must be wondering if you should continue reading my crazy blog...)
Food Pairings: What to pair with a Syrah like this... hmm... I think venison would go great with this. Definitely a winter meal right there. Anything game related would probably match well. I'd also like this with a heavy pasta dish - red based, but something with depth. Not too good at putting my finger on that one. However, this seems like a great cheese wine to me. It's something I'd enjoy with cheese even though it's a full wine.
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 2 - a step up in price, I know, but it's worth it for the introduction into an old world style. It's something different than what you'll find in the U.S. and that's why I liked it.
Where to buy: I'm going to be no use on this one. I found it in the PA liquor stores. I'm hoping you can find it, too!