Decanter Wine World Awards Best In Show! 97 points! "As Rhone-lovers will know well, it's important to nuance the very different qualities of St Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. It wasn’t the plump, juicy generosity of the latter which fought its way through to our Best In Show collection this year, but rather the fragrance, elegance, swish, verve and classicism of the former that most impressed our judges. If you love the mouthwateringly smoky, ham-bone-and-flowers allure of Northern Rhone Syrah, then dig into a glassful of this 2020 wine and see it personified. The wine is neither plump nor texturally rich on the palate; what it does do, rather, is take that perfumed fresh fruit and run with it to hypnotic (and mouth-watering) effect. You’ll find brighter acidity here than in most Northern Rhone white wines, paradoxically, but that acidity is ripe, vivid and resonant: perfect structuring for a wine that is clearly best drunk and enjoyed as soon as possible."
Located in the village of Chavenay in the heart of St. Joseph, totaling just under 15 hectares, Verzier is a new producer that we haven't offered before. The wines from this small address rarely make it into the USA, and after an excellent showing at the Decanter Wine World Awards winning pretty big, this looked to be an incredible value for the Northern Rhone. At the young age of 19, Phillipe took over his father's 2.5 hectares of vines in 1988, producing his first vintage the same year. Since then, the estate has grown, and Phillippe's son, Maxime, has joined the family tradition after tenures in Burgundy, Alsace, and South Africa. The family team tends their vines organically with lots of work in the vineyard controlling yields and using a few biodynamic techniques to strengthen the vines and promote strong biodiversity in the vineyards. The "Right Way" to make wine, as we sometimes call it, this extensive labor almost always yields a superior product. Empreinte is sourced from the Chate-Perdrix vineyard, which is planted to old varietal syrah on granite about 30 years old. Hand-harvested and sorted using whole clusters, it is fermented in temperature-controlled tanks before transferring to older barrels for 12 months of aging. Empreinte blends the traditional St. Joseph character with a beautiful display of red fruits, providing an excellent sense of place with soaring aromatics for fresh early drinking with the ability to age for a few years.