Founded 160 years ago in the heart of the northern Côtes du Rhône, Delas Freres today crafts world class wines from both northern and southern Rhône.
Tending the steep sloping vineyards, which total some 30 hectares of vines, the team adapt their growing practices to each plot of vines to let the terroir of the Rhône shine through in the wines.
This wine was reputed in the 16th century for its delicacy, and was poured at the table of the kings of France. It was the Jesuits (a monk community) of Tournon who gave the area its current name, in the 17th century. Between 1956 and 1969, all the vineyards from this area which used to be named “Côtes du Rhône” were regrouped and established under the appellation Saint-Joseph. This cuvée is a vineyard plot selection. Grapes come exclusively from the plot known as “Sainte-Épine,” a south-facing slope hillside on the commune of Saint-Jean de Muzols, in the heart of the Saint-Joseph appellation. It is only made in the very best years and its production is deliberately limited to 4,000 bottles (75 cl.) per year.
The grapes for this wine come from a single plot selection of “Sainte-Épine,” which forms a south-facing slope hillside on the commune of Saint-Jean de Muzols in the heart of the appellation. The vineyards of Saint-Joseph stretch more than 35 miles along the right bank of the Rhône river, from Chavanay in the north, to Guilherand in the south. The soil is light and gravelly, comprised of schist and gneiss rock over a granite base. The climate is moderate, with hot, dry summers and normal rainfall the rest of the year. The vineyards have southern and southeastern sun exposure.
The “Sainte-Épine” grapes are harvested by hand, at optimum maturity. Fermentation takes place in traditional, open-topped concrete tanks, after three days of pre-fermentary skin contact at cool temperatures. Maceration continues at controlled temperatures of 82°F to 86°F (28°C to 30°C). Daily cap pressing and pumping takes place for about 10 days, with a total maceration period of up to 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 to 16 months in oak barrels – half new, half one year old barrels. The barrels are topped up regularly.
2016 was a brilliant vintage. The winter was mild but morphed into an unusually cool spring, which made for a delayed budburst and flowering. Hail in April damaged some of the crop in Hermitage, meaning yields are reduced – great quality and less alcohol than 2015.
The wine has a deep ruby colour with purple tinges. Its nose shows aromas of blackberries and spices, lifted by some mineral and gently wooded notes. Well concentrated, this wine has pure flavours that come to the palate in successive layers of varying aromas, all of equal intensity.
Game, marinated beef, grills, green peppers. It goes well with all types of cheese.
92 POINTS, CELLAR SELECTION
May 1, 2020, Anna Lee C. Iijima
“Layers of smoke and char mingle into perfumed rose petal and black cherry in this full-bodied Syrah. Concentrated and ripe with penetrating black-fruit flavors, it feels restrained and tightly wound in its youth. It’s best to wait till 2022 but the wine should improve through 2030.”
September 2019, Josh Raynolds
“Brilliant purple. Expansive, mineral-accented dark berry and cherry aromas are complemented by a smoky mineral nuance that gains strength with air. Powerful blackberry liqueur and bitter cherry flavors show impressive depth, and a peppery note adds spicy lift on the back half. Finishes bright, extremely long and sharply focused, with gentle, even tannins framing clinging blue fruit and floral notes.”
December 20, 2018, Jeb Dunnuck
“Always one of the wines of the appellation, the 2016 Saint Joseph Sainte Epine from Delas comes from a terrific terroir just north of Tournon. This is a sunny yet cooler, windy region of pure granite soils, and the wine spent 16 months in new and once-used barrels. Saturated purple-colored, with lots of cassis, crushed violets, and liquid rock aromas and flavors, it’s seamless and elegant on the palate, with beautiful finesse in its tannins and rocking purity of fruit. This beauty just glides across the palate, is medium-bodied, impeccably balanced, and a classic Northern Rhône Syrah that will keep for a decade.”
July 25, 2018, James Molesworth
“Dark and winey, featuring a deep core of red and black currant fruit steeped gently with anise and apple wood notes. The finish lets a bright iron edge run through. There’s lots to like here. Drink now through 2026.”
The Wine Advocate
December 29, 2017, Joe Czerwinski
“The Delas wines are among the best in Saint Joseph, and the 2016 Saint Joseph Sainte-Epine doesn’t miss a beat. It shows spicy-herbal complexity on the nose, combined with ripe black cherries. Medium to full-bodied, it’s supple, plush and long. It should be a beauty, capable of rivaling the impressive 2015.”