Domaine de Gouye Saint Joseph Vieilles Vignes 2018
100% Syrah. High above the village of Saint-Jean de Muzols, you’d be forgiven if you felt you’d stepped into another century. Vines stand proud on a steep hillside, individually staked and bound by ribbons of straw tied by family hands. The only sound aside from the wind through the trees is the determining step of Ramses, a plow horse, as he pulls his way through each vine row. In the cellar of the Desbos family, a vertical press from the year 1886 stands ready for the next harvest. And when that time comes, it’s all hands on deck, family, and friends, helping to pick the grapes and stomp them with bare feet in ancient wooden fermentation vats. At Domaine de Gouye, winemaking follows time-tested tradition not because it’s romantic but because it’s the “most efficient,” says winemaker Philippe Desbos, the third generation of his family to craft Syrah wines from this windswept perch. From the family’s rustic stone house, one enjoys a breathtaking vista of the meandering Rhone River and to the east, the noble hills of Hermitage. The fruit for this special cuvee comes from the oldest vines, some over 100 years, and from the traditional region of Saint Joseph, right across from the hill of Hermitage. All the fruit is organic and a non-interventionist approach is used. Fruit crushed by foot, whole-cluster fermentation with wild yeasts, very little sulfur added, and aged in neutral barrels. This wine fills the glass with summer bramble fruits, white pepper, anise while having a full-body yet balanced by silky tannins. Red and black fruits with a hint of baking spices cover your palate as you sip. This is what old-school Northern Rhone Syrah is all about. No frills.