Though perhaps better known for his Condrieu and St.-Joseph whites, Rhône vintner François Villard is also adept at producing reds.
In the past, Villard’s reds showed burly textures and toasty aromatics. He’s backed off that style in recent years though, and the wines show more precision and elegance now.
To make this Syrah, Villard removes the stems from about 80 percent of the grapes and leaves the rest on during fermentation to add more tannins. The wine is then aged in barrels, of which just under two-thirds are new oak. The Syrah shows lovely lavender and incense aromas leading onto a silky palate of cassis, pepper and briar hints. It’s lost some of the toasty baby fat from my initial review and is still on track to drink nicely over the next couple of years: 91 points, non-blind.
To top it off, I recently found the wine on sale for $35, a nice break from the $45 release price we were quoted by the importer last year.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for François Villard St.-Joseph Mairlant 2006 (91, $45).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among Rhône reds.