There can come a time in the careers of chefs and wine-makers when they have weathered enough pitfalls and enjoyed enough success to have the confidence to exercise a restraint that raises their output above that of their younger selves. It is the lightness of touch that is key; not trying too hard. One such is Patrick Jasmin, who is at the top of his game at the moment, producing wines of elegance and finesse with great varietal character and a strong sense of terroir.
Patrick presides over 12 different parcels of vines spread over 8 lieux-dits which gives him a broad spectrum of fruit to blend from and some valuable insurance against meteorological misfortune. His 'La Giroflarie' Côte-Rôtie is made from a traditional blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier that are vinified together in a 52 hectolitre 'tronconic' oak vat and then matured in oak barrels of varying sizes and ages. The finished wine exudes finesse and is quite Burgundian in structure with a bouquet of violets and black berries and a sleek palate of dark forest fruit with spicy undertones, cooling granitic notes and well-integrated tannins. It can drink well on its youthful fruit but really comes in to its own with 5-10 years bottle age.
Not to be overlooked is Patrick's excellent IGP Collines Rhodaniennes bottling of Syrah called 'La Chevalière'. With a wealth of blackberry and dark cherry aromas and flavours offset by supple tannins and a fresh acidity, it is an accessible and forward-drinking wine that represents great value for money.
Brothers Romain and Maxime Champet own a 4 hectare parcel of Syrah which surrounds the family home on the schist soils of the 'La Viallière' vineyard on the Côte Brune. Their 'La Viallière' Côte-Rôtie is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier that typically undergoes whole bunch fermentation before being matured for a minimum of 14 months in 600 litre demi-muids and 228 litre barriques before being bottled without fining or filtration. With a bouquet of dark hedgerow fruit with floral undertones and a palate of stewed black fruit with supple tannins and a mineral edge, it is a classic of the appellation and deserving of a wider audience.
Christine Vernay - the doyenne of Condrieu - is now widely recognised as being an excellent red wine-maker too. Her lavish 'Blonde de Seigneur' Côte-Rôtie (95% Syrah - 5% Viognier) is deftly-oaked, steeped in sleek dark fruit and supported by silky tannins. You can decant it and enjoy it right now but it will gain complexity if matured for up to a decade.