Category Archives: Rhone

2004 M. Chapoutier La Sizzerane Hermitage

2004 M Chapoutier La Sizeranne Hermitage

Last week we made our biannual piligrimage to Capital Grille. Their wine list is expansive however you really need to pay attention to avoid over paying. Many of the wines are from good producers however often times they are young (Cabs from 07 or yonger) and marked up 2-3x per bottle. When going to a restaurant with similar wine lists it’s a good idea to take a look online and make smart choices. Capital Grille’s wine list isn’t available on their website but it’s findable with a little effort. With that being said we got a good deal on this 2004 Chapoutier Hermitage. This bottle retails for around $75 per bottle and we got it for $120 at the restaurant which is only a 60% mark up. We took a risk as 2004 Hermitage was not a perfect vintage and has already been declared to be past it’s prime depending on the producer.

cap grille food

We started out with Bluepoint Oysters (my favorite along with Naked Cowboys) and Wagyu Beef Carpacio and a Stoli Doli (pineapple infused vodka). Our main courses were bone in ribeyes medium rare with lobster mac and cheese and sauteed spinach. The oysters were the perfect combination of meat and brine while the Wagyu had fantastic earth flavors. The mac and cheese was uncharacteristcally dry which was a disappointment however the spinach was good with strong garlic flavor and good texture. The steak stole the show as usual with excellent marbling, seasoning, and the flavor concentration you only get with proper dry aging…worth every penny. For desert we had chocolate cake and my favorite: creme brulee which was torched perfectly.

colonelgrape: 83. One of my favorite movies of all time is City Slickers and I’d compare this wine to Curly….a great cowboy out for one last ride. Our gamble paid off and this was a tasty bottle at a decent restaurant price. Tough to tell color with the lighting but it had the nice aged purple/brick red hues. The nose was of extremely ripe black fruit, leather, earth, and definitely a little brett. On the palate is where the bottle fell a little flat for me. It was a little over ripe and had a port/raisin taste and the fruit was definitely past it’s prime but it all still worked. The tannins were gone and the finish was short. If given this bottle blind I would have said old Syrah but it was not as deep or bold as I’d expect from a Hermitage. I would have loved to try it in it’s prime but in the end it was a respectable final showing from the wily cowboy and now it’s time to move on.

MobyGrape: 89. This wine was ready to be put to pasture but it had one last wild ride left in it. It was a great purple color and just looked deliciously thick, probably due to the 8 years it had to build up sediment. It was earthy and had a port-y raisin flavor to it. Had a little tart kick left in it too.  I wouldn’t have wanted to drink this any later than we did, but it was an excellent surprise addition to an excellent meal! Paired wonderfully with steak and chocolate cake, but then again what doesn’t?

2010 Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes-Hermitage

lamb wine

It’s been a slow wine week here due to various plans and sports but we managed to squeeze in this great little bottle of Crozes-Hermitage with some excellent lamb chops. We’ve yet to review a wine from this AOC but there’s good value to be found here. Most of the wine made is red and is 100% Syrah with a small amount of white also being made. Crozes-Hermitage is the biggest region in Northern Rhone however the wines are generally not regarded as highly as it’s neighbors: Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. The reds from Crozes-Hermitage are often thought of as good wines to drink while the bigger reds of the neighboring regions mature and drink well young.

colonelgrape: 87: Nice complexity for a young Syrah but not overpowering. Black fruit, graphite, licorice on the palate with some tartness and tannins but they had settled down and structured the fruit nicely. A really nice medium-bodied, young wine that is drinking well after only 3 years. The alcohol content wasn’t through the roof either like some of the California Syrahs which made this bottle much more drinkable with dinner for two. It also was only $30 and a great value for French Syrah. Drink it with a nice cut of red meat and you won’t be disappointed.

MobyGrape: 83. I’m digging on Syrah these days, I’m going to have to get the Colonel to pick up some Syrahs from around the world to see what else this little guy can do.  Had some definite tannins to even out the spicy fruit, so it worked well after decanting for a bit and with salami and cheese before dinner.

2010 Domaine Galevan Chateauneuf du Pape Saint-Georges

Domaine Galevan CdP Saint Georges 2010pope

Chateauneuf du Pape translates to House of the Pope and with the election of Pope Francis we thought it would be appropriate to enjoy a CdP with dinner the other night. This is our second bottle from our most recent Wine Library order and it’s a 100% Grenache CdP from Domaine Galevan which is a small yet well known estate in southern Rhone. The 2009, 2010, and 2011 have all earned critical acclaim which has driven the price up to $80 a bottle however I was able to grab it for $60.

colonelgrape: 95. Definitely a younger wine…a little rough around the edges but the foundation is strong and this wine is going to round into shape in the next few years. Being 100% Grenache it has a slightly different taste than other CdP’s. Dark fruit, leather, and earth come through on the palate with a nice long finish. It’s very drinkable now but this is a wine worth cellaring as it’s only going to get better and better. Every 2010 CdP or CdR I’ve had so far has been excellent…if you see any 2010 from a good producer at a good price snatch up all you can, the price is only going to go up.

MobyGrape: 88. Habemus Papam! In honor of a new pope, it seemed only fitting to have a wine with a Pope hat on it. It was carefully selected in the basement after a series of secretive meetings and, once chosen, I set dinner on fire and smoke filled the kitchen.  Maybe that’s not quite what happened but whatever, the wine was well-timed and tasty.  It was young and not quite as smooth as some of the cdp’s we’ve had, but it was delicious nonetheless.

1998 Nobles Rives Hermitage


Hermitage is the Rolls-Royce of the Rhone region. It’s made from 100% Syrah and quality examples take decades to mature. Often times other wines in the region are thought of as wines to drink while wines from Hermitage and Cote Rotie mature. Hermitage is actually a very small region as well so coupled with the age needed these wines are very expensive. White wine is also made in the region but  most of the production is red.

This bottle here is not a well known producer so it was relatively inexpensive at $40. Most well known producers are in the hundreds even when they are new and still need 20 years before you can drink them. We enjoyed this wine with rigatoni and meatballs.

colonelgrape: 83. Since this is an older wine we decanted it for a solid 40 minutes before tasting it and the first thing that jumped out at me was the color. This wine was a very distinct brownish/brick red that you only see in older wines. On the nose it smelled leathery and earthy. On the palate I immediately tasted smoked meat, leather, earth, spices, and a background of red fruit. That first sip I literally thought someone dipped a salami in my wine, in a good way. I’d describe it as “gamey” tasting. It went really well with the hearty meatballs. I think we missed the prime of this wine by a few years but this is still a bottle I’d recommend if you’re looking to try a Hermitage red but don’t want to spend $200 for a bottle of Jean Louis Chave. Just make sure you do it soon as this wine is definitely on the back 9 and won’t last much longer in the cellar.

MobyGrape: 85. I didn’t know what to expect from this wine, because even though the colonel has explained to me roughly 4001 times what hermitage wines are, I have yet to pay attention.  It smelled and tasted kind of meaty at first, and there was a lot of sediment, which leads me to the conclusion that someone dropped hamburger in the barrel.  Whatever they did I’m cool with it, because it worked out pretty well.  The meat smell went away shortly and then it smelled a little bit raisiny and tasted like them If you did the weird little slurpy thing to aerate it on your tongue (which I do in a very classless way, so I’ve been told). Regardless, I enjoyed the wine before dinner and also with pasta and meatballs, a nice meaty wine for a nice meaty meal.

2003 Saint Cosme Saint-Joseph


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.