The final syrah on the journey takes us back to France and the northern valleys of the Côtes du Rhône.
Crozes-Hermitage is the northern Rhône’s largest appellation covering almost 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of rolling hillsides surrounding Hermitage. The names may be similar, but Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage produce very different wines. Hermitage produces some of the most sought after wines in the world, often long-lived, very tannic, and worthy of cellaring. On the other hand, the producers in Crozes-Hermitage create wines that are known for their consistent quality and approachability and intended to be consumed early. The proximity to the Rhône River has given this region a wide range of soil types (loess, clay, alluvial sands and gravel) which vary dramatically depending if you are in the valley or on the hillsides.
For generations the Pochon family has farmed vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage, selling grapes to the local cooperative in Tain l’Hermitage. In 1988 that all changed when Etienne Pochon began managing the domaine and started producing wine with the family’s own fruit. Domaine Pochon produces wines that are painstakingly crafted, reflecting the terroir of Crozes-Hermitage. Unlike many producers in the region that focus on quantity over quality, Domaine Pochon creates separate wines from the best hillside plots and carefully blends them together to create this juicy and earthy syrah.
The first things we noticed about this wine were the heady aromas of blackcurrants, cherries and faint hints of earthy tobacco. Its youthful ruby color carries prominent black and red fruit flavors with some prickly spice and the classic gamey or meaty signature of syrah. Full-bodied and silky on the palate, it has young, aggressive tannins that build up through the lingering finish. If you have a decanter (even a water pitcher will do), make sure to use it. This wine will benefit from some exposure to oxygen to soften its tannic aspects.
2007 Etienne Pochon Crozes-Hermitage ($22)
- 100% syrah
- Crozes-Hermitage, Côtes du Rhône, France
Stay tuned for the final variety on the voyage…petite sirah!