For Northern Rhône Reds, It’s Not the Age but the Emotions

For Northern Rhône Reds, It’s Not the Age but the Emotions


St.-Joseph is divided similarly to Crozes-Hermitage. The wines from the granite hillsides are the most distinctive, complex, interesting and age-worthy, while the wines from the plains are relatively simple and fruity.

The St.-Joseph Offerus was nonetheless different from the Crozes. Jean-Louis Chave, the proprietor, has put a lot of time and energy into reconstructing ancient, abandoned hillside vineyards in St.-Joseph, and 60 percent of the grapes in this négociant bottle come from young vines owned by the Chave estate on historic hillsides. They provide structure and depth, while the rest come from vineyards to the north that are more easygoing.

Though it was a blend of elements like the Crozes, the St.-Joseph, a year older, felt denser, with aromas of violets and crushed rocks, and chalky tannins. It did not have the more obvious black olive flavors, and felt more elegant and tightly wound.

Of the three wines, I would have thought the Cornas, from a warmer site in the southern end of the Northern Rhône, would have been the least ready to drink. Cornas generally requires more aging than either St.-Joseph or Crozes-Hermitage.

I’ve had 15-year-old bottles of Cornas that still seemed too young. That might have been before the effects of climate change were as apparent in Cornas as they are now. Ferocity was once considered a hallmark of Cornas. I haven’t seen a clenched-tight bottle like that in a long time.

But the Granit 30 is intended for early drinking. For our purposes, this was good in that the wine is enjoyable now, and not so good, perhaps, in that it’s atypical of the region. Even so, I felt as if I could still sense the Cornas identity in this wine.

It was even more dense and concentrated than the St.-Joseph, yet paradoxically more ready to drink. It was fruitier than the other two wines, with lingering aromas and flavors of violets, black olives, and red and black fruits. On the second day, earthy mineral flavors emerged.


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