Saint-Joseph is an appellation in the Northern Rhone Valley that grows Syrah. It’s kind of an odd appellation in that it’s very long and narrow on the West bank of the Rhone river. It is the second largest appellation in Northern Rhone second only to Crozes-Hermitage. Saint-Joseph is frequently compared to Crozes-Hermitage in wine style and it’s easy to see why…they grow the same grapes and are in a similar region, albeit on opposite sides of the river.
The odd geography of the appellation leads to inconsistency of the wines…but not necessarily in a bad way. Classic Saint-Joseph comes from the southern part of the region while the wines from the north may taste very different as the terrior of the appellation changes. The wines of Saint-Joseph were described to me like a “mild version of Crozes-Hermitage” and are often thought of as wines to drink while waiting for Cote-Rotie and Hermitage wines to mature.
With their mild nature they drink well young but excellent examples are worthy of cellaring such as the 2003 we had the other night. This is a $50 bottle from Vin Bin’s fine and rare December collection. We enjoyed it with veal osso buco, rice, and vegetables:
If you’ve never tried osso buco and you’re a meat lover you are missing out. It’s tender, flavorful, and very interesting. Also if you have a dog they will swim across the ocean and back for one of the shank bones…seriously they absolutely love them.
colonelgrape: 93. I really enjoyed this wine. We decanted it for about 45 minutes to let it open up and It was a nice ruby color, full bodied with flavors of red fruit and leather. Definitely not as bold as Cote-Rotie wines but you could tell it was Syrah. If you have a bottle of this drink it now, I don’t see it getting any better with more aging.
MobyGrape: 90. This one decanted for a while, so I was ready to dive in and see what was going on, I figured all the riff raff would be out by the time I stuck my schnozz in it. I went to give it a good whiff and immediately was transported to the dump in the town I grew up in. If you’ve never been to a dump before, you’re missing out, and if you have, you know it has a very distinct odor. It just smells…different. Then I tasted it and thought those salivary glands in the lower corners of my mouth were going to explode. I’m told that’s acid. At this point you’re probably thinking my rating was a typo. In that weird journey that wines take in the glass however, the dumpy smell mostly went away and so did the cheek-shattering acidity and it mellowed out and became a drier, tart wine that tasted quite nice. Like the knight guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones, he was all old and fierce looking at first, then he drops his sword when he’s trying to swing it and you realize he’s just a kind old man doing his job and he recognizes Indy’s a pretty good guy after all. Am I saying I’m like Indiana Jones? I’m not saying that I’m not. Who doesn’t enjoy a good archealogical adventure? Isn’t that what wine tasting is all about anyways? With every sip you’re tasting a wet little piece of the past. This wine was from 2003. It will never happen again. None of the wines you drink will ever happen again. Except for that Beaujolais Nouveau crap, that’s just unnatural and will probably continue to be crap until the end of time. Regardless, I got to be a part of what these people were doing at that time, in that place, during those exact conditions in which these grapes grew. Whoa.