2012 M. Chapoutier "Les Varonniers" Crozes-Hermitage (Pre-Arrival)

SKU #1150205 91-93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Opaque ruby. Intense cherry and dark berry scents are enlivened by bright mineral and spice nuances. Deeply pitched blackberry and bitter cherry flavors show power as well as finesse, with a sexy floral pastille note adding complexity. The minerality adds bite to the finish, which lingers with impressive energy and persistence.  (3/2014)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 A smoking Crozes Hermitage, the 2012 Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers sports a vibrant purple color to go with notes of black cherries, bouquet garni and ground pepper. Medium to full-bodied, soft, fleshy and beautifully textured, is has enough underlying tannin to keep it drinking nicely through 2022 or so. It's worth noting that at a recent 2003 retrospective, this was firing on all cylinders and bested more than a few more expensive Hermitage. (JD)  (12/2014)

92 points Vinous

 Vivid ruby. Highly aromatic cherry and red berry scents are complicated by licorice, Indian spices and cola. Deeply concentrated dark fruit flavors show a suave blend of sweet and tangy, with a mineral nuance adding lift. Gains weight and sweetness on the clinging finish, which features a cherry-cola quality and fine-grained tannins that come on late  (2/2015)

92 points Wine Spectator

 This has ample toast, but the core of raspberry, plum and blackberry fruit is wonderfully melded with savory, iron and anise notes. A graphite edge lends racy feel through the finish, with a tarry backdrop. Rock-solid. Drink now through 2020.  (2/2014)

Jancis Robinson

 West facing but very similar granite soils to Hermitage. Mid crimson. Tight and dense and chewy. Like bone-dry cocoa powder. Grainy. Drink 2016-2021.  (6/2013)

K&L Notes

"Les Varonniers" is a selection of Chapoutier's oldest Syrah vines, more than 60 years old on average.

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Price: $39.99
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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.


- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them. Click for a list of bestselling items from all of France.


- Legendary wine-producing region in southeast France. Stereotypically speaking, Rhone wines are high in alcohol, and the majority produced is red. The northern Rhone is best known for outstanding 100% Syrah wines from areas such as Cote Rotie and Hermitage, as well as for fabulous white wines from Condrieu (where Viognier is king). In the southern Rhone, look for spicy, full-bodied wines that are blends of Grenache, Syrah, and other varietals coming from appellations such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, or Rasteau. Wines labeled as Cote du Rhone or Cotes du Rhone Village (a cut above generic Cotes du Rhone) are frequently found here in the US because they often represent some of the best values on the market. View our bestselling Rhone Valley wines.
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