2020 Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Maison Les Alexandrins, Northern Rhône, France
The 2020 Rhône Valley offers are whizzing around the wine world like racing pigeons. One eminent wine merchant tells me that, in spite of this annual flurry of activity, the Rhônes En Primeur season is often a veritable damp squib, sandwiched each year by the frenzied bun fights of Burgundy EP in January and Bordeaux EP in April/May. This is a great shame because, unlike the aforementioned mega-regions, the Rhône still manages to offer world-class wines at affordable prices. While I know keen fans will sink their teeth into their favourite wines, I thought I would sound the alarm from this page with a wine that you do not have to wait to buy or indeed drink. If any wine will rev you up to the joys of elite French syrah, then this is it!
After the unusually warm 2018 and 2019 vintages, the latter affected with severe hail damage in parts, 2020 was a year in which the vignerons had to nurse their oft-damaged vines back to health. It was a vintage when precision viticulture paid huge dividends and challenges came thick and fast. Some of the finest wines are made in years like this because minds are focused and talent is acutely reflected in the bottle.
I nearly dropped my glass when I first tasted this exquisite Crozes. With a brief ten months spent in barrel and a mere 13% alcohol, this expressive syrah, soaked in granite and garrigue, is as aromatic and evocative as many wines twice the price.