2014 Vignobles Levet, Côte-Rôtie, Les Journaries, $65
Winery info: Côte Rôtie (or “roasted slope”) lies in the northernmost tip of the northern Rhône valley. It produces only red wines, always based on Syrah, grown on steep, terraced slopes, the most coveted of which are the Côte Blonde and the Côte Brune. Vignobles Levet dates back to 1929 and is now run by Agnès Levet who represents the fourth generation of her family to oversee the estate. Today they have vineyards in several sites, including those two famous slopes.
Grapes: 100% Syrah (actually, Serine, a grape which is believed to be an ancient clone of Syrah). About 60% of the wine is fermented whole cluster and it is aged two years in 600-liter demi-muids. Although it is allowed in the region, they do not blend any Viognier into their wines.
Vineyard: Predominantly from their old vine holdings in La Landonne, one of the top vineyards of the Côte Brune, with steep, terraced slopes of schist soils and a south-southeast exposure.
Flavor Profile: Levet’s wines are very traditional in style. This one is elegant yet bold, with brambly fruit flavors of black raspberry and currants, and Côte Rôtie’s characteristic violet notes and savory hints of olive. Very aromatic, with great texture and length, a touch of meatiness, and robust tannins.
Availability: There’s a tiny bit left of this wine.
Drinkability: Anytime, though it will develop further over the next decade.
Food Pairing: Grilled beef, lamb, pork, braised foods or stews
2013 4 Monos Viticultores, Albillo, $35
Winery info: This winery (4 Monos means “four monkeys”) was created by group of four wine aficionados who met while hiking in the Gredos Mountains, 80 kilometers west of Madrid. Within a few years they had acquired four hectares of vineyards in the Vinos de Madrid appellation, along with a small bodega in the village of Cadalso de los Vidrios. They also work ten additional hectares with other local growers who share their commitment to organic farming.
Grapes: 100% Albillo, or Albillo Real, a white Spanish grape, grown primarily in the mountains west of Madrid. Fermented with wild yeasts and aged for ten months in used 300- and 500-liter barrels.
Vineyard: Sourced from several vineyards in Cadalso de los Vidrios. The vines average about 95 years in age and are grown on decomposed granite soil.
Flavor Profile: Smooth and elegant, with expressive aromas, wonderful depth, and savory notes. They note it is “weightless and flavorful with lip-smacking granitic minerality and incomparable finesse.”
Availability: This vintage is now gone.
Drinkability: It is drinking well now and should be enjoyed over the next year or two.
Food Pairing: Chicken, turkey, white meat, or seafood.