• Domaine Christelle Betton, "Espiègle" Crozes Hermitage 2019

Domaine Christelle Betton, "Espiègle" Crozes Hermitage 2019

Syrah|Rhône Valley, France

Ah, the Rhone Valley – the soul-filled home of Syrah in France. There is arguably nowhere more consistently evoking all the nuance and classic character of the noble Syrah grape.

As the Rhone river has wound its way south into the Mediterranean, a dramatic valley has emerged over several millennia. While softer earth yielded to the river’s carving, the harder granite bedrock was exposed, including the famed hill of Hermitage on the right bank of the river. Syrah from the Hermitage appellation is some of the world’s most renowned, and easily go for three figures and higher. “Crozes-Hermitage” is the area surrounding the steep, granitic hills of Hermitage; the best examples echo the power and lithe grace of Hermitage.

Christelle Betton’s “Espiègle” follows this tradition. She’s the third generation to oversee the family’s namesake domaine in La Roche-de-Glun, whose familial vineyards are found in both Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage itself. Her cuvées hold irreverent, fun names, from “Caprice” to this “Espiègle,” French for “mischievous” or “playful.”

And it sure is easy to enjoy. From the first pull of the cork it exudes classic cool-climate Syrah character, with a deep crimson core and a basket of violets, beetroot, snappy red plums, peppery woodsiness, and licorice wrapped around a meaty, iron-rich core of fleshy fruit and smoky mineral-infused earth. Drinking well now, expect this beauty to continue to refine and evolve in bottle for 3-4 years, so tuck this away with splendid results, if you can bear to!


Her farming is sustainable, grapes are harvested by hand, and the wine is aged in used Burgundy barrels for 1-2 years before bottling unfined and unfiltered. The wines ooze class and tradition, so full of verve and life, and archetypal examples of great Rhône Syrah. The French guide Bettane & Desseauve calls her wines "local treasures" and we couldn't agree more!

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