The young turks of the wine scene had a great initiative, Syrah Week, with participating restaurants offering wines made of the world's second greatest red grape* on special wine lists. The prices looked good, but one wine on offer was particularly appealing. The price for the Allemande Reynard was so cheap it was like the wine just fell off the truck or something. I made reservations to Yaffo Tel Aviv, just to get my hands (and mouth) around it. The other wines written up here were just us drinking at home, in the spirit of Syrah Week.
* Pinot Noir is the perennial first place, blue ribbon holder - Bordeaux lovers are invited to sit on it.
Domaine August Clape, Cornas, 2007
This is one of the two household names out of Cornas, Thierry Allemand being the other. It's a very robust wine, and I'm not just referring to its powerful presence, but also to the healthy purity of the fruit, balanced by rusty tannins and fresh acidity, carried on to great length with zero palate fatigue. The nose is very definitive as well, black fruit, black pepper, black olives. I just wish this were more complex and a little wilder.
Thierry Allemande, Cornas, Reynard, 2013
The real deal. If the Clape is putting on your bowtie to go play the grand piano, this is courting the voodoo doctor in the swamp. The nose shows the wildling character of the appellation: iron, blood, pepper, raw meat, a hint of scorched land. The palate is just as wild, with rusty tannins that echo the untameability of old school Cornas. Still raw and grumbling, yet with depths of flavors, pleasure and expression.
Imported by Eldad Levi, 360 NIS at a special price at Yaffo Tel Aviv (almost 50% off the regular price of 700 NIS). I chased the sommelier for another bottle, like a junkie begging his dealer for another fix - but that was the last bottle.
Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2011
Graillot makes great Syrah in a style wildly different than the two Cornas wines, a style often dubbed Burgundian for the lush softness of fruit (although the languid, fleshy fruit has no parallel in Bourgogne, really). He is a master of Crozes-Hermitage, just about the greatest producer in that backwater (his son Maxim a close second, judging by the single bottle I tasted). Oddly enough, his Saint Joseph was always priced higher than the straight Crozes (although the premium Crozes cuvee, the Guiraude was priced higher than both), even though by many accounts it has less cellaring potential. At least in Israel, that is no longer the case, thanks to Wine Route's wily pricing schemes.
I believe the wine is more tannic and ageworthy nowadays, without losing sight of the qualities of style, which I expounded on above, that made Graillot's wines so special and dear to me. It's drinking nicely now and could easily drink just as nicely past ten or fifteen years of age. It, too, is branded with iron and black pepper, closer aromatically to the Allemande than to the Clape, but it thrives on juicy acidity rather than on tannins, with a salty/sour finish that is very food friendly.
Wine Route, 210 NIS.