As Eric Asimov notes in his New York Times article this week, Domaine Georges Vernay is the most venerated name in Condrieu. Indeed, "in the dark old days Condrieu was essentially kept alive by Georges Vernay." Vernay's replantings of terraced Viognier vineyards and his care for the old vines of the Coteau de Vernon proved to be a stroke of genius.
Today, Georges' children--primarily his daughter, Christine--run the domaine. Though Domaine Georges Vernay is still one of the top names in Condrieu, Christine is determined to make her mark with her superb Syrahs. With her award-winning Cote-Rotie, she's well on her way to becoming a legend in her own right.
Christine's Cotes du Rhone "St. Agathe" Syrah comes from vines planted on terraced, granite slopes overlooking Condrieu. These are densely planted old vines that are hand-harvested and severely sorted. The result is a smokey, plush rendition of Northern Rhone Syrah, perfect for game and lamb dishes.
The 2005 Syrahs from the Northern Rhone are structured and built to last, but they also have so much appealing fruit that most people probably won't wait to uncork them. St. Agathe is dark, powerful Syrah with the hallmarks that Syrah lovers have come to expect: black fruits, black pepper, and black olives. This is a saturated wine that is quite youthful now and will age beautifully for potentially 10 more years.
Suggest food pairing:
A recent dinner at Chez Vernay had us chomping a salt-crusted leg of lamb with lots of rosemary, a potato gratin, and some grilled vegetables. A wine like this will provide power on power for a meal of this caliber.