M. Chapoutier, Crozes-Hermitage (Rhône Valley, France) “La Petite Ruche” 2020

($30, Folio Fine Wine Partners):  Chapoutier, one of the best producers in the Rhône Valley, is both a négociant and a grower.  As a grower, the house makes estate wine from grapes in vineyards they own.  As a négociant, the company buys either very newly pressed wine or grapes from their neighbors and transform it into wine. They take great pride in their négociant wines, like La Petite Ruche, which may have less prestige than their estate bottlings, but compensate by delivering terrific value.  Crozes-Hermitage are vineyards mostly on the flatlands surrounding the famous Hermitage hill, though some growing sites are on slopes at notably higher elevations.  Quality from this largest appellation can vary considerably, so sticking with a top producer like Chapoutier is wise.  La Petite Ruche, made entirely from Syrah, delivers dark fruit notes accented by savory meaty and peppery ones.  Great acidity in the finish keeps it fresh and you coming back for more.  The polished suave tannins in the mid-weight wine make it ideal for drinking this summer with food coming off the grill.
90 Michael Apstein Apr 11, 2023