Cotes du Rhone, France, $23.99
This must try Syrah shows incredible balance between fruit and savory characteristics without being overbearing. The nose is a little tight upon opening but after an hour rich red berries and red raspberries peak out with orange zest, woody herbs and a touch of sweet spice. The palate is quite full with light but grippy tannins and serious acidity. Showing more peppery and earthy on the palate but driven by dark red fruit with a slight floral tone on the finish.
100% Syrah. Brézème is an historic Syrah growing area at the southernmost edge of the northern Rhône Valley, on the eastern side of the Rhône River in the Drôme, near the start of the Alps. It is a steep, south-facing hill rich in limestone and old vine terraces. Eric Texier owns some old Serine parcels, as well as some younger clonal Syrah plantings going back 30 to 40 years. For this Côtes-du-Rhône bottling, Texier uses only this younger, clonal Syrah. The fruit is organically farmed and harvested by hand. Whole clusters are fermented with native yeasts in concrete tank with a short one-week maceration. There is no punching down or other cap submersion (only a moistening of the cap with wine) in order to avoid overextraction. The wine is aged in concrete for 15 months and bottled without filtration and with a miniscule10 mg/liter of sulfur.
Generally pegged as part of the natural wine movement in France, Éric shrugs this and every other label off. He is an intellectual, a scientist, and a pragmatist with a clear-eyed, unapologetic take on his work: "My wines are not "nice" or "fun". I believe that they express where they come from and truly show a sense of regional identity. They are clear and precise. I don't give a damn what people are drinking at hipster wine bars in Paris or what a 1000-Euro bottle of Bordeaux tastes like. I'm very happy that people like my grandma and François Pouchoulin, the father of Brézème, like them."