06 Domaine Faury, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah
If I could create a new wine appellation, I'd call it Grand Crozes. It would encompass all the best, most creative off-label wines in northern Rhone. And each year we'd honor the best one with an award. One named after Philippe Faury, who makes this the model for all such wine. The key to knowing this wine is reading the label and seeing that it's "recoltant" in Chavanay. Which should mean nothing to you, but is this wine's sweetest truth. In other words, Philippe picks these grapes with his own two hands (well, and maybe those of some voluble ex-pat imports) somewhere near the town of Chavanay, France, in the heart of the great St. Joseph/Condrieu straddle where some of the world's greatest reds share schist with some of the world's greatest whites. Easy to call it "vin de pays," country wine, when this is your vin and this is your pays. And like the ambiguously attractive teen actress who removes her glasses and shakes her hair to reveal the object of every great football player's desire, this Faury syrah is a score. Its juicy red fruit flavors are romantic, first of strawberries and raspberry sorbet, then cherries, red plums, dried apricots, white peaches, and kumquats. It tastes like a blend of new and old--its tannins as smooth, soft, and powdery as a 10-year-old Cornas, its fruit as fresh as the sweet grapes off the vine and as clean as iced sangria. Which gets me back to Crozes, Crozes-Hermitage, so often home to "everyday" wines like this that achieve such great balance and sensuality (unlike the more popular Cotes-du-Rhones) in their youth. That's where the inspiration for this Faury comes from, despite his roots maybe 50 kilometers north of there. Wines where you finish the glass, then the bottle, asking why you'd ever need to age anything. Maybe because some day, your Faury well will run dry, and you'll need the reserves in the cellar to turn to. So why should we ever grow old?