| CÔTES DU RHÔNE
Éric's Saint Joseph is a blend of several Syrah vineyards, all located high on the western hillsides above the River Rhône near the village of Charnas. The acclaimed historian and wine writer John Livingstone-Learmonth writes, "I can think of one place - Charnas, near Limony, where there are 50 hectares of good vineland that should have been allowed originally in the appellation."
Wines Éric's Saint Joseph is his most feminine Syrah from the Northern Rhône, combining a fruity nose of cherries and raspberries with tart acidity and light tanins. This versatile wine can enhance the enjoyment of such diverse entrees as a lightly grilled salmon to a juicy grilled steak. You can easily expect this wine to age gracefully for up to 7 years.
Extending nearly 40 miles, from Condrieu in the north to nearly Valence
in the south, Saint Joseph is a long and narrow appellation with a (quite
obviously) varied terroir. Éric's vineyards are all in the unofficially
designated "Northern" part of the appellation located high on
the steep hillsides above the River Rhône, near the village of Charnas.
These south facing vineyards are composed of primarily granitic stone-covered
soil although a few inlcude very fine schist topsoil.
History Saint Joseph, the name, comes from a hillside near Tournon although many locals will convincingly argue the name comes from St. Joseph himself, who is reported to be the patron Saint of betrayed husbands.
The locals will also dispute exactly when the first grapes were cultivated
in Saint Joseph and in this case it is very difficult to determine. In
1309, wine was first sold in Tournon and Mauves, both villages within
the original Saint Joseph appellation. Tournon itself is nearly 1200 years
old with the first written mention occurring in 814 AD. Some believe the
first wine was made by the local Carmelite monks who cultivated vineyards
above Tournon. According to Élie Brault, during the reign of Louis
the XII (1498-1515) the only wines served at the Court of France were
from the three royal vineyards: Beaune and Chenove in Burgundy and the
esteemed Clos de Tournon. The wine continued to be a favorite of the royals
and it is recorded that King Henry II (1519-59) kept a personal reserve
of several barrels and that Saint Joseph was sold as far away as Rome.
Saint Joseph wines even made the theatre with Victor Hugo's Les Misérables
where he wrote, ...there was served a bottle of this 'good wine of Mauves'
...but no more than one bottle was brought out because it was 'an expensive
2001 began with a mild winter that was followed by a warm and wet spring. Flowering started towards the end of May. August was hot and dry with temperatures reaching 33°C. September was sunny and dry but a little cold. The grapes were harvested on September 27 and 28.
The 2001 is an exceptionally ripe St. Joseph with a big nose that combines cherries and raspberries with tart acidity and light tanins.
© 2003 Éric Texier