I have a soft spot for Northern Rhone whites. The top examples of Marsanne and Roussanne from Saint Joseph and Hermitage offer a combination of texture, medium acidity, concentration and sweet fruit in a very dry wine that pairs with certain foods better than any other and makes for a great sipping white. Vietnamese caramelized pork, for instance, clashes with the minerality and acidity of most Chardonnay, is too sweet for Gamay, and needs greater weight than Riesling but less opulence than Pinot Gris. The only remaining choice is a great white Rhone.
A Stylish Producer
White Rhone wines are not monolithic. Producer matters significantly. The best make whites that belong among France’s best wines. But even decent producers often fail with their whites. The challenge of the low-acid white Rhone grapes can be mastered only by a few. One of those few is domaine Bernard Gripa.
Though founded by Bernard in the 1970’s, the philosophical spirit of the domaine belongs to Bernard’s son Fabrice. Fabrice took over in 1997 with international experience, including at Leeuwin in Australia. Fabrice believes modernist producers like Francois Villard caused all producers in the Rhone to up their game. At the same time he believes that “the challenge is to pass beyond having big matter in the wine to having finesse in it. Concentration doesn’t necessarily make a Grand Vin.”
This St. Joseph blanc is 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne. Fabrice ferments and ages the wine in vat and used oak.
This is great wine. The wine possesses flowers, stone fruit, great structure and more acidity than you might expect. It is very well balanced, with great mouthfeel and substantial complexity and length. This is a top example of Saint Joseph white and confirms this domaine’s standing among the upper echelons of white wine in the Northern Rhone.
Excellent and Highly Recommended Value
$41.95 + tax at Marquis Wine Cellars