Last night, we took some much deserved time out from our unending work and worries to enjoy one of the very finest bottles in the store. With so much going for it – being from one of the greatest vintages in modern history for the Northern Rhone, 2015, for one – I knew we were in for a thrill ride. Pulling the cork at 4:00 pm, it would take until nearly three hours later – 7:00 pm! – before this nearly perfect wine unfolded to reveal all its beauty and power.
The wine I’m introducing is none other than Emmanuel Darnaud’s otherworldly Crozes Hermitage. Easily a wine I would taste and present alongside some of the greatest Northern Rhone selections offered by Chave, Clape or Chapoutier, Darnaud’s Croze Hermitage hit the scene in 2001, making this amazing winemaker a rising star – perhaps a newcomer to most folks who are very serious about their wines.
Today, however, Darnaud’s star has fully risen; this is a superstar domaine fully capable of holding its own again the very best. Emmanuel’s secrets to success are actually quite straightforward – low yields, hand harvesting, single vineyard fermentation, an emphasis on terroir, de-stemming and fairly long macerations – but what sets him apart (the reason for such ethereal wines) are his plots.
Emmanuel Darnaud’s very first parcel was a pristine plot, no larger than 4 acres, which was leased to him by his father in law, the great Hermitage producer Bernard Faurie. The rest was up to Darnaud, and he made the most it. By the arrival of the string of perfect vintages – 2015, 16, 17 & 2018 – Darnaud was in full control, bottling wines of a lifetime.
One taste of his 2015 Crozes Hermitage from the single vineyard Au Fil Du Temps will open your eyes and blow away your palate!
Easily worth $75, available at Park Street Wine Cellars for less than $45!
Possibly the wine of the appellation and a true “wow” wine, the 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Au Fil Du Temps offers sensational notes of cassis, toasted spice, vanilla and blackberry jam. Full-bodied, concentrated and polished, with perfect balance, it’s a gorgeous, seamless beauty that ranks with the finest Crozes-Hermitage I’ve ever tasted. It should be capable of lasting for 10-15 years.
One of the up and coming superstars is unquestionably Emmanuel Darnaud, who leapt onto the scene in 2001. He produces three terrific Crozes-Hermitages as well as an excellent Saint Joseph. — 96 points, Jeb Dunnuck