Vignobles Yves Cheron Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Michel Poinard 2007
Burgundian Yves Cheron graduated from the Lycée Viticole in Beaune in 1983 and headed south the following year to assume control of the family’s new domaine in the Southern Rhône. His father, Denis Cheron, saw the untapped potential in some of the region’s lesser-known appellations back in the early 1960s and left Burgundy to set up shop in this sun-baked sub-region of Provence. Denis purchased a production facility in Vacqueyras and began vinifying wines for several area growers. It wasn’t long before he had earned the trust and friendship of his client-vignerons. In 1982, one of them, the heirless owner of Grand Montmirail in Gigondas, decided to retire and gave Denis right of first refusal to buy his domaine in the appellation’s southeast sector.
Since taking over for his father, Yves has expanded the family’s vineyard holdings into neighboring Beaumes de Venise and Vacqueyras and now produces an impressive line of pure, elegantly-structured, Grenache-based reds without the rustic characteristics so common in wines from this region. All of the domaine’s vines are on gently-sloping hillsides at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range. Yves has also established long-term grape contracts with like-minded growers in Sarrians, Seguret and Violes for another 60 acres, which he uses for his Côtes du Rhône. Yves monitors each parcel and decides when to harvest. He then vinifies this excellent value red in the same manner as his Gigondas and Vacqueyras.
Crozes-Hermitage is Northern Rhone’s largest appellation, surrounding the steep granite faces of Hermitage to its north and south. Here the rolling vineyards are less extreme and its soils, rich in clay-limestone and alluvial matter, produce Syrahs that range from fruity and charming to lush and seductive. The Syrahs of Crozes-Hermitage have more mass than those from St. Joseph but are less intense than those from Hermitage. While many are intended for early consumption, some of the best Syrahs from Crozes-Hermitage will age beautifully for 5-10 years.
Up to 15% of white grapes may theoretically be added to red Crozes at the time of fermentation but whether this is done or not depends on the decision of the winemaker. The best Crozes-Hermitage Syrahs will be fleshy with black fruit (currant, blackberry and black cherry) and bay leaf qualities, notes of tar and stone, and a well-concentrated finish of smooth tannins.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”