Their flagship vineyard, if there had to be one, would have to be their one hectare in the private woodsy retreat named les Picaudières, long esteemed as perhaps the finest site in all of Crozes Hermitage; John Livingstone-Learmonth, perhaps the most prolific writer on the Northern Rhône valley, has often cited the noteworthy nobility of this place and its wines. This site came into their family in 1996 (acquired from Raymond Roure), roughly at the beginning of Stéphane’s career as a young vigneron. Pictured above is Stéphane standing in the young vines portion of the site; the picture does not do justice to the sense of steepness, especially in the 90+ year old vine terraced section below me, the photo taker. A steep and cool little valley pocket, entirely surrounded by woods, with a stunning view to the south of the unfolding Rhône valley and its vineyards, this place has a special sensibility and then some; it is no mystery to me why the wine is so damn good…..
The ’17 Picaudières gave its typical incredibly deep palate impact out of cask, these 100+ year old vines not shy on substance. It is in a blacker fruited register this year, and even sexier in its come hither ripeness than the profile of the cooler 2016 vintage. I honestly imagine that this will please an even broader swath of wine drinkers than the ’16, as i’ve found that for many folks, bigger is better. This is not to say that it lacks for tonic freshness or grip whatsoever, as it has excellent lift and ripe tannin. This continues to be another ridiculous, bursting-at-the-seams value on the world stage, from an undervalued and under-the-radar gem of a site that deserves a place among the iconic vineyards of the N Rhône. Yes, it is that good……a little * awarded here.