NEW YORK TIMES
YOUR NEXT LESSON: CROZES-HERMITAGE
By ERIC ASIMOV
Next up will be Crozes-Hermitage from the northern Rhone Valley of France. It was not my first choice or even my second, which I guess is fitting for a wine that is often an afterthought.
I love syrah, the grape of Crozes-Hermitage, in the fall. It has a smoky quality that I have come to associate with cooler weather and the smell of burning leaves. My first thought for this month was California syrah, an often maligned but rapidly improving category. But the wines I wanted to recommend simply were not available.
The same was true with shiraz, as syrah is generally called in Australia. I am finding more and more shirazes made in a bright, fresh, expressive style, but the bottles that I thought would illustrate this point were not easy to find. I then thought of Cornas , a sibling of Crozes-Hermitage from the northern Rhone, but, well, you can guess the issue.
Crazes-Hermitage has suffered, often rightly, in the shadow of Hermitage, a wine of greatness and grandeur grown on the magnificent hill called Hermitage. By virtue of its attachment to the Hermitage name, Crazes-Hermitage – grown in a region extending about 10 miles north and south of the hill – has often operated largely on the principle of reflected glory.
But this has been changing in the last 20 years, as more producers have sought to make wines of genuine quality. Crozes-Hermitage may not have the potential of the granite hillsides of St.-J oseph, another northern Rhone region, but the wines can be delicious in their own right.
The three bottles I recommend are:
Equinoxe Crozes-Hermitage Equis 2015 (Skurnik Wines, New York) $21
Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2015 (Europvin U.S.A., Van Nuys, Calif.) $35
J.L. Chave Selection Crozes-Hermitage Silene 2015 (Erin Cannon Imports, Manhasset, N.Y.) $28
The Equinoxe may be a bit confusing. It can also be listed under the name Domaine des Lises, or under Maxime Graillot , one of the producers, who happens to be the son of Alain Graillot. If you can find both, compare how father and son do it.
These wines, too, may not be easy to find. So let me suggest some other names to seek out as well: Dard & Ribo, Balthazar, Ferraton, Rousset, Yann Chave, Paul JabouletAine, Laurent Combier, Bernard Ange, Jean-Baptiste Souillard and Entrefaux.
I love good syrah with roasted meats, sausages, earthy bean stews, roast chicken, duck, burgers and charcuterie. Mushrooms ought to work well, too; really anything with smoky, earthy flavors.
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