—Whatever will be, will be...With fall here in New York in full swing (finally!) and Thanksgiving right around the corner, we at Slope Cellars are craving slightly fuller wines, and what better grape to echo the spirit of autumn than Syrah?
Franck Balthazar in the village of Cornas is a traditionalist in spirit, but an innovator at heart. His wines evoke the sophistication and elegance of Crozes-Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie, but with an unrestrained flair and a lower price tag. The 2014 BALTHAZAR CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE is from organic grapes grown in and out of Cornas. They are pressed in whole clusters without de-stemming, fermented in cement tanks without added sulfites before being bottled without filtration. The result is essentially a de-classified Cornas—lively blackberries, elegant dried flowers and mint, with a silky texture, a cured-meat center, and ethereal woodsy backbone.
Another show-stopping Syrah is from Arnot-Roberts, who since founding their winery in 2001 have been one of the most avant-garde producers stateside. Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nate Roberts have found a sweet spot in delivering wines with finesse, weight, beauty and quirk, all the while changing the conversation about what Californian wine is.
The 2013 NORTH COAST SYRAH is sourced from four vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Fermented in whole clusters, 10% carbonic, and aged in neutral oak, it has a firmly planted foot in the New World. This beautiful Syrah is full of ripe cranberries and salted plums, tarragon and licorice, black olives and peppercorns.
Last, but certainly not least, is the phenomenal 2012 HEDGES DLD RED MOUNTAIN ‘CUVEE MARCEL DUPONT’ SYRAH. From a small corner of the Yakima Valley in Washington state, their team is driven by Tom Hedges and his wife Anne-Marie Liegeois, who honors her family tree by naming this Syrah “DLD” (Descendants Liegeois Dupont) and dedicates it to her maternal grandfather Marcel Dupont. But this is more than mere sentimentality–it is a poetic gesture to indicate that winemaking traditions, styles and methods are intertwined from many places: one could argue, from both the maternal and paternal sides of a family, or from both the New and the Old World.
DLD is a very small production, the low yields of a 15-acre vineyard, a beauty that in a blind tasting led us to believe it was perhaps from Northern Rhône, maybe a Hermitage, for its savory yet floral spice. But it was distinctly Red Mountain in its plush red fruit, blackberries and currants, wet soil, fennel, toasted walnut skins and green coffee.
So whatever is in store for your holidays, just please make sure you have room for Syrah. —alejandra