2015 Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes Hermitage Au Fil Du Temps – 96 Jeb Dunnuck

King of Crozes!

 

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

 

ERIC & JOËL DURAND – Rock Stars of Cornas – Hottest Wines of the Region

                               Cornas Rock Stars

 

Brothers Eric and Joel Durand are precise, authoritative artisans. Perhaps you’ve heard that from professionals such as Jancis Robinson, who, after the most exhaustive, comprehensive tasting of the region’s wines I’ve discovered (vintages spanning 1972 to 1991, multiple Crus, every major estate you can imagine) swooned for the Durand Brothers. Speaking of the Durands’ youngest cuvee at that time, Jancis Robinson reported:

“The wine is testament to some very fine, sensitive winemaking with lots of fruit in the middle to compensate for well-managed tannins.”

That started the ball rolling for the young artisans – European sommeliers couldn’t get enough – and soon the world was calling.

Approaching the Durand vineyards, one cannot help but be awestruck. You wonder how these guys ever mustered the strength – the stamina – to rework these treacherous, crumbling hillsides. After assuming the family estate in 1991, they began reworking their vineyards, but not the vines – not just yet – they had to first secure the terraces which supported their family’s old Syrah vines. One by one, rock by rock and parcel by parcel they rebuilt the terraces on their steeply sloping hillside vineyards – the only method to secure their incredible vineyards and save their Syrah from literally sliding into the valley.

From there, the brothers designed the most intricate trellising system I’ve ever witnessed. Zig-zagging their way up the granitic slopes of the Cornas hills, the vines in each of the Durands’ oldest parcels grow upwards, arching at the top, forming an upside down “U”, reaching the vine adjacent.

                                        Durand Vineyards

This work on the terraces as well as the wildly imaginative trellising spanned nearly 20 years; when I witnessed it, I was taken aback. Words cannot do justice.

Three unique, beautifully individual as well as incredibly limited cuvees (low yields are a given in this environment) are now offered by the brothers. Their soils change as you move gradually up the Cornas slope; silt laden deposits give way to pure granite, which then changes to migmatite (granitic components within metamorphic surroundings). Complexity; awe-inspiring; mind-changing – you have never tasted Cornas quite like this…

Take my advice; seek out the trio of their top offers (Prémices, Empreintes and Confidence). That’s the only way you will truly understand the minute differences and striking, individual personalities of each of these treasures of time, place, mono-varietal, and human endeavor.

If you’re curious where to locate, leave me a reply…