Wine Review: 2009 Jeannine Boutin Crozes-Hermitage “Les Hauts Granites”

22 08 2011

Just ignore the Baby Rainforest Bouncer in the background.

After pounding out 1500+ words about five German Rieslings in my last post, I’m going to try to be a little (OK, a lot) more concise tonight.  While Riesling has always been my favourite white grape, my current favourite red has got to be Syrah, a full-bodied, powerful grape capable of many different expressions and often melding fruity and savoury notes in a way that no other varietal can.  Most of the Syrahs that have found their way onto PnP so far have been New World examples, mainly from Washington State or California with the occasional Aussie Shiraz (same grape, different name) thrown in.  Tonight, however, I’m going back to the grape’s roots in the northern Rhone Valley in France, Syrah’s ancestral homeland and (maybe moreso 20 years ago than now, but still) home to its most famous and expensive bottlings.  Some of the most lauded and pricy Syrah in the world is grown in a small appellation called Hermitage, a single hill hovering over the Rhone River containing barely over 300 acres of vines.  If I worked five of my current jobs, I could drink Hermitage every now and then.  Instead, I’m settling for its little brother, Crozes-Hermitage, a much larger region spanning the flatlands surrounding Hermitage Hill on the Rhone’s east bank.  A Crozes may not light your world on fire like an Hermitage can, but it won’t cost you $400 either…this one was a shade over $30.

Cork Rating: 3/10 (If your cork says "Mis En Bouteille A La Propriete", this is the highest score you'll get from me.)

Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and other northern Rhone appellations likes Cote Rotie, Cornas and St. Joseph all feature Syrah in their reds, even though you will never see this information on a label.  Often these wines are about as far from Shiraz as the same grape can get, with assertive tannins, an earthy flavour profile and overt gaminess and other savoury features framing more understated fruit.  This Jeannine Boutin Crozes was interesting because it straddled the line between these two extremes, offering the Old World earthiness and minerality but with a surprising burst of New World fruit flavour evident throughout.  The wine was a vivid electric purple colour in the glass, almost looking like it could glow in the dark.  The immediate first impression I got on my initial sniff was black currant, which formed the core of the Boutin’s aroma, surrounded by sweeter notes of dark rum and anise, spicy black pepper and something slightly pungent, earthy and mushroomy.  It wasn’t as full-bodied as I had expected — medium-full at most — and its fairly sharp but not overwhelming tannin and medium-high acid formed a strong backbone for surprisingly prominent blueberry/saskatoon berry fruitiness on the palate.  The peppery note from the nose also lingered, joining char, smoke and maple notes that rounded out the wine without taking the spotlight off the fruit.  It’s not that the Boutin was super jammy or juicy; it’s not what you would normally call a “fruity” wine, but the component of the flavour profile that is fruit is intense.  That intensity carried over into a lengthy, almost raisiny, finish.

I wasn’t sure about this wine on my first glass, but my second glass showed much better when aerated…if you happen to have this bottle at home, I would definitely decant/aerate it if you’re going to have it now.  The Boutin certainly did nothing to diminish my Syrah love affair…next stop, Hermitage?

89 points

$30 to $35 CDN 

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One response

17 03 2017
medium.com

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Keep up the great writing.

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