At a nice dinner the other night, several friends and I decided to compare three top single-vineyard Côte Rôties from the vintage of 2001. If you don't know, Côte Rôtie is one of the top Syrah appellations in France's Rhone Valley. Actually, it’s one of the top Syrah appellations in France—okay, the world. All right, to my mind, it's the greatest place for Syrah in the world. Some might argue that Hermitage is better, but I'll take Côte Rôtie's lighter body, floral high notes and silky tannins any day.
The vintage 2001 was a good one, by the way, and the wines were drinking wonderfully. The three we tasted were Domaine Rostaing's La Landonne, Domaine Ogier's La Belle Helene and Guigal's La Turque.
All were delicious, but for me, the best one was the latter, followed by the Ogier, with the Rostaing bringing up the rear. The Guigal, which will continue to improve for a couple of decades, was dense and smoky with loads of white and black pepper crusted around a core of sweet, dense blackberry. Gorgeous.
These exact wines will be hard to find, but drop a few dimes for Côte Rôtie sometime soon at K&L or the Ferry Building Marketplace—it’s very often worth the money to see how good Syrah can be.