Domaine Blachon Saint-Joseph Blanc 2015
Marsanne Blend｜Rhône, France
White Rhône is a total sleeper category; you need wines like this in your arsenal. Striking the perfect balance of texture, body, and freshness, this 2015 is drinking splendidly. Pop this with some pasta primavera, an alfredo sauce, lemon-grilled artichokes, or roasted cod swimming in butter and you’ll be in heaven, we guarantee it.
Blachon’s story begins at the turn of the 20th century, five generations ago. Brother-and-sister team of Sylvain and Delphine Blachon inherited the estate from their father Roger, and have taken the estate to new heights while retaining all the character and tradition of the winery, their familial vineyards, and of course the heritage of the Saint-Joseph appellation.
They’re located in the hamlet of Mauves, one of the three original villages that form the very heart of Saint-Joseph. You see, Rhône wines started taking off in popularity over the past few decades and, along with surging fame, the appellation’s borders grew nearly five-fold. Naturally, with this amount of quantity increase, quality varies wildly so it pays to “know your grower.”
Blachon is just the grower to watch: prices have not nearly caught up to the absurd amount of quality in the bottle. Their vineyards are organic, totally hand harvested, and the wine is made 100% by hand. This gorgeous blanc is 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne, classic white Rhône grapes. It starts off in concrete boxes for fermentation and moved to massive, heritage foudres (really large old casks) to age before bottling, unfined and unfiltered. Aromas of summer stone fruits abound – white nectarine, Bosc pear, hazelnut, elderflower, and exotic spices overtake the nose. Far from being overly “fat” or rich, the palate is smooth, full, and dominated by generous apricot flesh and a haunting sense of minerality that cleans the finish up, pure and precise. The wine strikes a perfect balance of being medium-to-full bodied without any cloying aftertaste. It totally belies its 2015 age in the glass; you’d swear it was a younger wine and will continue to evolve naturally should you choose to cellar some for enjoyment this fall/winter, which you should absolutely do.
Look at those slopes – this is intense manual labor, and an extraordinary amount of love goes into each bottle. So-called “natural” wine need not be esoteric: bottlings like this Saint-Joseph Blanc have been made virtually the same way for a century, far before designer yeasts or herbicides were so ubiquitous. Organic, handmade, and absolutely classic. Enjoy!