There’s no place like the Northern Rhône

May 16, 2024 | All, International wines | 0 comments

Today we are proud to offer Syrah from some of the best French producers in the world, Jamet, Clape, Graillot and more. They all hail from rugged terrain with an extreme climate that demands everything from the people who farm them. 

After a series of hot, concentrated vintages (2017-2020), the cooler 2021 vintage saw a return to classic conditions. Alistair Cooper MW of Jancis Robinson noted, 2021 certainly wasn’t the vintage of the century, it was a vintage of the last century.’ These Syrahs are vivacious and floral, with red and black fruit, grainy tannins, and impeccable structure.

Jamet Cotes du Rhone and Verzier Saint Joseph Empreinte 2021

‘The big hitters of Côte-Rôtie have produced some wonderful and elegant wines that may well surprise us over time’ (JR). The Jamet Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2021 is a leaner, aromatically intense Syrah which is sure to excite fans of the Sons of Sugarland Syrah. 

Verzier’s Saint-Joseph Empreinte 2021 is one of our perennial favourites. Maxime Verzier, is a good friend of Loïc Jamet’s and his wines have an uncanny, stylistic similarity. Their Saint-Josephs are reminiscent of Côte-Rôtie; perfumed, spicy, and offer excellent value.

Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2021 and Des Lises Crozes-Hermitage 2021

Alain Graillot, the undisputed king of Crozes-Hermitage, has produced appellation-defining wines since 1985. Maxime Graillot took over from his father, Alain, and started his own domaine, Des Lises in the 2000s. A string of excellent vintages has proved that the Graillot dynasty is safe in Maxime’s hands. 100% whole-bunch fermentation is key with Alain’s organically-farmed, old-vine Syrah. His wines are fragrantsavoury and mineral. For Domaine des Lises, Maxime adopts a subtly different approach. By destemming his grapes, his wines are a touch more modern in style with similar power, florals and spicy mineral notes.

Clape Cornas Renaissance 2021

Slightly more accessible in its youth, but with all the hallmarks of the Grand Vin, Clape’s Cornas Renaissance 2021 is supple and densely packed with signature Cornas trademarks – black olives and cherries, gamey spices and liquorice. These are structured, long-lived wines that are definitely built for the patient consumer – even in tough vintages opines Josh Raynolds of Vinous. 

These Syrahs, with alcohol levels between 12-13%, are layered and elegantly restrained. From humble beginnings, the Northern Rhône’s wines are now highly sought-after and often near-impossible to obtain. Grab these classics with both hands whilst you can.

Tasting Notes:

Jamet Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge 2021

‘Certainly a big step up from their IGP Syrah, this has deeper fruit and a more classically northern expression. It’s light-bodied, without great concentration. Tannins aren’t intense, but they’re certainly strict and structured. Some red fruits among the black bring a slightly perfumed element. Freshness, good acidity and low alcohol make this very drinkable, a leaner year. All destemmed.’ – Matt Walls,, 90/100

Verzier Saint-Joseph Empreinte 2021

This vintage has not been rated yet; see 2020 tasting notes:

‘If you love the mouthwateringly smoky, ham-bone-and-flowers allure of Northern Rhone Syrah, then dig into a glassful of this 2020 wine and see it personified. The wine is neither plump nor texturally rich on the palate; what it does do, rather, is take that perfumed fresh fruit and run with it to hypnotic (and mouth-watering) effect. You’ll find brighter acidity here than in most Northern Rhone white wines, paradoxically, but that acidity is ripe, vivid and resonant: perfect structuring for a wine that is clearly best drunk and enjoyed as soon as possible.’ – Decanter World Wine Awards, 97/100 (Best in Show)

Des Lises Crozes-Hermitage 2021

This vintage has not been rated yet; see 2020 tasting notes:

‘Deep violet. Lively aromas of fresh blackberry, cherry and candied flowers, along with cracked pepper and olive flourishes. At once rich and energetic, offering juicy, mineral-laced black and blue fruit flavors and hints of candied violet and five-spice powder. Picks up a smoky nuance with air and finishes gently tannic and very long, leaving behind resonating mineral and floral notes.’ – Josh Raynolds, Vinous, 91/100

Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2021

‘Minerality and a transparent character to the focused finish. Drink or hold.’ – James Suckling,, 94/100

‘The 2021 Crozes-Hermitage from Domaine Alain Graillot is a superb wine (as always). The bouquet is deep, pure and precise, wafting from the glass in a mix of cassis, black raspberries, pepper, espresso, grilled meats, dark soil tones and a generous top note of smokiness. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and very elegant in profile, with an excellent core of black fruit, fine mineral drive and grip, fine-grained tannins and a long, complex well balanced and peppery finish. First-class Crozes that deserves at least a handful of years in the cellar to soften up its backend tannins a bit. This is my favorite Graillot straight Crozes since the beautiful 1989 version!’ – John Gilman, View From the Cellar, 93/100

Clape Cornas Renaissance 2021

‘Saturated magenta. Expansive aromas of black and blue fruits, licorice, olive and black pepper show fine clarity and building florality. Smoky and energetic in the mouth, offering juicy blackberry, cherry and baking spice flavors that slowly deepen through the back half. Becomes sweeter on the long, focused finish, which features grippy tannins and lingering floral and exotic spice notes.’ – Josh Raynolds, Vinous, 94-95/100

Recent posts

SA Winemaking Giant: Alheit’s latest release

SA Winemaking Giant: Alheit’s latest release

The annual visit and trek out to Hermanus every year to go and taste with Chris is one of the highlights of the annual release season. The wines are brilliant, as always, but there is more excitement from Chris re the 2023’s, especially the...