My Syrah column remarked on its unimpressive showing during a January tasting where I was more in awe of the setting than the wines poured, and where the theory that the price point at which better Syrah appears is relatively high… seemed confirmed. I needed a recommendation, a bottle that had the potential to rescue the varietal from the doldrums.
A bottle of Syrah from Northern Rhône was the first opportunity I had to restore my vision of the noble grape. In January, shortly after the tasting group malaise, I was given a sample of 2009 Domaine Courbis Champelrose Cornas to ameliorate my impression.
Uncorking the Syrah I poured four ounces of medium-plus intensity garnet liquid into my stemware; it wasn’t the color that was riveting. The bouquet leaped from the glass (medium-plus intensity), a developing aroma of violets, dried thyme, ripe plums, cigar and roasted meat appeared. The wine was showing off. On the palate it was dry, filling out the palate with a medium-plus frame buttressed by fine and grippy tannins and a blend of muddled berries, red and black, plums, edible flowers, black pepper and dried herbs finishing long and balanced. From my view the Cornas has a long life ahead of it in the cellar—having a pleasing core of fruit, bright acidity and tannin to reward patience.
Domaine Courbis Champelrose Cornas is my wine of the month in February. Its pronounced aromatics coupled with sculpted frame and complexity bowled me over. I wasn’t ready for it. The modest price tag ranges from $35-$45, in California, still supporting my theory, but I would gladly pay that price for such a great example. Today I’m recommending this Syrah as a strong buy! Still waiting for the same effect below the $35 threshold… please tell me if you find one.