01 Domaine Andre Francois, Cote-Rotie
Please, listen to me. It's not bacon, it's pancetta. That's what everyone who talks about Cote-Rotie, the French Rhone valley's most powerful expression of the syrah grape, is missing. Smoky, yes, but great Cote-Rotie isn't like the bold syrah of California or Washington. It's so much more delicate. Maple wood over hickory. Black pepper over smoked paprika. I know; we want to use words like "tar" and "blacktop" as tasting notes, but that's why I'm infatuated with this Andre Francois. It's the difference between going to a strip club and a burlesque bar--yeah, it's still slutty, but at least it's not going to make you cheat on your wife. There's an art to it that no one else would understand. You could almost call it dance. And your friends will just think you're selfish (which you are), and you'll go on laughing, throwing singles in the general direction of this bottle on the floor. Raspberry and grape jam and quince, violets and baked Nicoise olives, with a visceral, umami backnote that makes it both tasty and spiritual. The spirit, by the way, is the viognier, which is blended up to 20% with syrah. That's why "roasted slope" is such an overstatement, and good producers know this. Its balance tempers the meaty syrah, while its citrus and vanilla open my eyes to something new. One molecule less, and it's a basic Cotes du Rhone. One woodchip more, and it's a haughty U.S. or Spanish wine for $100/bottle.