Rhône wines should really attract more interest in Australia, given the strong showing of Shiraz and Grenache in this country. Comparisons are interesting for many reasons; Grenache on its own is virtually not bottled in France, and the Shiraz styles vary in different Northern Rhône subregions. In a recent tasting, I could look at four quite different wines from the Rhône.
The 2014 Pierre Gaillard Clos de Cuminaille from St. Joseph has a fascinating flavour profile. This is a light and fresh wine, with red fruits, earth, leather, spice and herbs creating a lifted blend, almost like a Pinot Noir. It has length, too. The only disappointment after such a nice taste is the lack of tannins (94 points).
Quite different was the second wine, a 2016 Domaine Santa Duc Habemus Papam Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This is a much bigger wine with dark fruits on the palate and a lush texture. The tannins are firm, and the slightly confected finish gives the Grenache component, otherwise not so obvious, away (93 points).
The third wine was from Cornas, a 2009 Matthieu Barret Domaine du Coulet Billes Rotres. This was a dark fruited wine, 100% Shiraz. There was a lot of pepper on the nose and palate, lavender and sweet honey notes made for an intriguing taste. Overall, this wine was very intense and I thought it was slightly hot, although the quoted alcohol was not especially high (92 points).
The final wine was the 2015 Bernard Faurie Hermitage (white cap). This is a rare wine, made in small volumes from arguably the best subregion, Hermitage, and a blend of two vineyards. This is quite a delicate wine at this stage whose complexity will only unfold over time. Violets and delicate raspberry flavours show upfront, but one can detect licorice and meaty notes underneath. Finesse is the dominant theme (95 points).
Four Rhône wines, four completely different expressions. There is a lot of complexity in this long region. This tasting suggests it is worth unpacking.