There are so many delicious versions of Syrah aka Shiraz that are fruity and deliciously satisfying but not so many that have the intriguing nature of this wine - beautiful, taut, intense Syrah that is complex with a delicate perfume of very dark fruit and violet, bitter herbs, a bit like a fine vermouth, a touch of tar, and crushed rocks. It reminds of a rather Barolo style of Syrah. There is excellent structure and core in this wine but you don’t feel a tannin out of place. A second sniff reveals more sensual fruit. But ultimately this is dry, savoury, fresh and balanced as opposed to big and fruity.
There is a famous producer in the area called Gonon, and his wines are £60 to £80 for the same vintage. I cannot say that this is the same quality, but it’s knocking on the door, and we’re sure will be considered benchmark before long. Already top producers in other regions are seeking out this wine – as I found out when drinking in a wine bar in Tournon and a producer from the Jura walked in asking if they had any. For £30 this is a bargain for this quality. It’s what Aymeric Pailllard set out to achieve when he dreamed of buying land in this area, just across the river from the great hill of Hermitage, home to most famous Syrah vineyards in the world, where he was brought in by the top producer Delas to convert their vineyards to organic farming. Spending time with them and jobbing for a few other top producers such as Stephane Ogier, allowed him to research the local terroirs probably in a way that few others do. Aymeric was seeking terroir for Syrah that has the coolness and finesse and tension of Burgundy, yet just enough of the Mediterranean warmth to ripen it. He decided that the hillsides around Tournon, just across the river from Tain L’Hermitage, was just the place to find this balance. This is part of the appellation of St Joseph, that stretches from here up, 60km up to Cote Rotie. There are many different terroirs within it, but find the right one, and you’re really on a terroir that is at least 1er Cru level, if you were to classify like Burgundy, or even Grand Cru.