The Northern Rhône, to be exact. One of my favorite pairing memories from my early days here at TWH was when I was invited to some friends’ house after work for “something that has been on the smoker for hours.” With little first hand experience of tasting the wide selection of red wines on our shelves, I consulted our pal Ben, and he put a 5 year old bottle of Northern Rhône Syrah in my hands. “It’s got structure and ample fruit, but this Syrah has a smoky-meaty quality that will work perfect with your dinner.” The words are seared in my memory because the pairing was perfect. So perfect that my friends loaded up on the wine because their smoker and grill were used pretty often. That wine is long gone, but in the world of 5 year old (okay, 4.5 years) Northern Rhône Syrah, we’ve got a pretty dang good deal!
Crozes-Hermitage surrounds the tiny, and much more expensive appellation of Hermitage on the east bank of the Rhône River just north of the commune of Valence. Syrah is the red grape of the region, and many of the wines from this part of the world have a distinct smoky-meaty-gamey nuance to them. That was certainly the case with the wine I mentioned in the above paragraph. Tonight’s wine has it as well, but there’s more!
One of the wines in the August 2015 Dirty Dozen is the 2011 Domaine Belle Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles. Due to the budget of our monthly sampler, we could only include a half bottle in the DD, but as Anya advised me,“Our Dirty Dozen customers deserve a treat like Crozes-Hermitage!” A treat it is. The best way that I can describe it is that it’s a red wine that can do it all. It’s got enough fruit and balance to be enjoyed on its own, and now that it’s spent some time in bottle, it has the complexity to be enjoyed with your victuals.
The Wine Advocate’s Rhône specialist, Jeb Dunnuck had this to say about the 2011 Domaine Belle Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles:
“Starting off the 2011s and another delicious, classically constructed effort from this producer, the 2011 Crozes Hermitage Les Pierrelles exhibits ample blackberry, pepper, underbrush and textbook northern Rhone meatiness to go with a medium-bodied, fruit forward and nicely textured profile on the palate. Despite the up-front feel here, it firms up nicely on the finish and should have a gradual evolution. This was a rock solid lineup from this tiny, family owned estate. 89 points”
Being August, I’ve made a point of hitting the farmers’ market each Sunday. The assortment of summer’s bounty is fantastic, with sights and smells that only come this time of year. Speaking of smells, I’ve had to wash a lot of clothes lately, mostly because I’ve been standing around a lot of smoking barbecues. I don’t necessarily want to do more laundry on my day off tomorrow, but if I have to, I have to. That’s the good thing about taking home a bottle of the 2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles: The barbecue is optional. – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about smoked meats, grilling, the northern Rhône, Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com