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Delas Saint-Joseph Sainte-Epine (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2013
The grapes for this wine come from a single plot selection of "Sainte-Épine," which forms a south-facing slope hillside on the commune of Saint-Jean de Muzols in the heart of the appellation. The vineyards of Saint-Joseph stretch more than 35 miles along the right bank of the Rhône river, from Chavanay in the north, to Guilherand in the south. The soil is light and gravelly, comprised of schist and gneiss rock over a granite base. The climate is moderate, with hot, dry summers and normal rainfall the rest of the year. The vineyards have southern and southeastern sun exposure.
The "Sainte-Épine" grapes are harvested by hand, at optimum maturity. Fermentation takes place in traditional, open-topped concrete tanks, after three days of pre-fermentary skin contact at cool temperatures. Maceration continues at controlled temperatures of 82°F to 86°F. Daily cap pressing and pumping takes place for about 10 days, with a total maceration period of up to 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 to 16 months in oak barrels - half new, half one year old barrels. The barrels are topped up regularly.
Founded over 160 years ago, Delas Frères was acquired by Champagne Deutz in 1977.
Delas Frères cultivates vineyards on the steep granite slopes of the northern Rhône, in some of the region's most prestigious appellations. Additional grapes are supplied through long-term agreements with southern Rhone growers dedicated to providing only top quality grapes.
Crafted by winemaker Jacques Grange to epitomize finesse and elegance, recent Delas Frères vintages from the vineyards of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Côte Rôtie, Condrieu, Côtes-du-Rhône and Côtes-du-Ventoux have won renewed praise for their intensity of flavor and excellent value.
Spanning the longest stretch of river in the northern Rhone—from Condrieu in the north, to Cornas in the south—the heart of St. Joseph lies directly across the Rhone River from Hermitage. While its soils are basically the same as Hermitage: granite, supplemented by sand and gravel, its east facing slope receives less sunlight than Hermitage, which causes less overall berry ripening on its Syrah vines. However, some of the best of them can rival any fine expression of Hermitage, Cote-Rotie or Cornas with concentrated black fruits, dark spices, crushed rock and violets. A general advantage of the region is that its Syrahs typically don’t need as much time in the bottle compared to a Cote-Rotie or Hermitage and are much easier on the bank account!
A textbook St. Joseph red is firm with a core of minerality that is enhanced by savory and peppery qualities. Aromas and flavors of smoke, olives, herbs, and violets are common; its wines are dense in red and black fruit.
St. Joseph is also a source of fine northern Rhone white wine. Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne grow well here and can be blended or made into single varietal wines. St. Joseph whites are full and silky with citrus, pear and pineapple flavors and a rich bouquet reminiscent of honeysuckle, toasted nuts, spice and caramel.
Marked by unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.