2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s – Domaine Stéphane Pichat – The Syrah That Seduced Us All


There’s been a lot going on around here lately, and as is usual for me, much of it has to do with Bordeaux. Of course, there were our two recent offers of the fantastic back to back vintages of 2009 and 2010. Funny, just before I pushed the magic button to send the 2010 vintage email, a couple walked in and said hello. Turns out they were the owners of a chateau in St. Emilion! More Bordeaux people are scheduled to visit us next week, but the big, big news was the announcement by Robert Parker that he will not be traveling to the region for the 2014 En Primeur tastings. Neal Martin will be handling Primeurs for The Wine Advocate beginning this year. The torch is being passed and time moves on. Speaking of time, as the 2nd month of the year comes to a close, I thought it a good time to check in on my wine resolutions that were made back at the beginning of the year.


Okay, not bad. Merlot? Just had some last night. Events? Our dinner with Château Brane Cantenac was a huge success. We’ll get something else on the books soon. Expanding horizons? Hmmm. This one needs a little help. Good to know. I’ll work on it. Push the boundaries? I’m learning new things all the time, so no problem with that one. Monthly splurge? Hmmm. Could it be that February has gone by without one? That’s easy to fix, and it’s about as no-brainer as it gets. The wine that every member of our staff is ready to flush their budget for is the 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s from Domaine Pichat.


Last Thursday, some pretty fancy wines were opened for a few of our wholesale customers. At the end of the day, there were some lovely samples for our staff to divvy up and take home. Our staff that day consisted of Chris and myself. Most of the samples had been tasted by Tom and Anya previously, so those were free to go home, but there was one that no one had yet tasted. For occasions such as these, we have small vials that we fill so they can be tasted the next day. It was really hard to part with even a vial-full of this wine! This is the magic that can come from a bottle of Côte Rôtie!


When I first started working here, a close friend of mine who is a regular wine tasting buddy, a foodie, and a great chef to boot asked me to bring by a bottle of Côte Rôtie so he could see what all the fuss was about. What I ended up bringing was a very nice Côte Rôtie, but it fell short of expectations as it wasn’t exhibiting any Côte Rôtie magic that night. Well Chief, if you still read my ramblings, this one has it in spades!!! The first whiff: magic. Côte Rôtie magic. Earth, dark purple Syrah fruit, meat, bacon fat, spice, autumn leaves … I mean the aromas are gorgeous. You can literally spend 5 minutes smelling this wine. The palate is equally spectacular with layers upon layers of complexity all in balance as if all components of the wine were woven together with magical thread. The finish is sad, as in darn, it’s gone. But as Dr. Seuss reminds us, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Anya and Tom came in the next day, and let’s just say that I didn’t need to keep an eye out for when they tasted the Côte Rôtie. The oohs and ahhs and cries of praise from the tasting room were enough to hear in all corners of our warehouse. I know Chris well, and when he’s committed to a budget, he’s committed to a budget, but he’s already ready to cave, as this wine can seduce the most willful.


As I stated in my wine resolutions, life’s too short to not enjoy something special every now and then. It is just a small sacrifice for pleasure. The 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s from Domaine Pichat is well worth every penny, and if you like the smoky, meaty, dense briary fruit that Côte Rôtie can deliver, this wine’s for you.


Time marches on! Before Robert Parker turned tasting at Bordeaux’s En Primeur tastings over to Neal Martin, he also welcomed Rhône expert Jeb Dunnuck to his staff to cover the region. Here’s what Jeb said about Stéphane Pichat’s 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s:

“Aged two years in 30% new oak, the 2012 Côte Rôtie le Champon exhibits gorgeous notes of black raspberry, sweet black cherry, smoked earth, herbs and dark chocolate. Pure, fine, elegant and layered, with medium to full-bodied richness, it too has a modern ting, but still has plenty of Côte Rôtie style. Drink it over the coming decade. 93 points

Producing a modern-styled Condrieu and Côte Rôtie, this outstanding estate is run by the young Stephane Pichat. He’s excelled in both 2012 and 2013. I think production here is minuscule, but these are worth the effort to track down.”


Speaking of time marching on, the first bit of English Football silverware is up for grabs tomorrow at Wembley. May the best side prevail!Peter Zavialoff


Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, Côte Rôtie, Wine Resolutions, or English Football:

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Filed under Cote Rotie, Peter Zavialoff, Syrah

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