Highlights: François Villard L’appel des Sereines Syrah 2017, Northern Rhône, France

François Villard is well known in the Northern Rhone for his masterful and poetic Côte-Rôtie and Saint-Joseph. Starting off his career as a chef before shifting into front of house, and then into winemaking, Villard is basically a self-taught vintner. Today, he’s working with 64 organically managed hectares, 40 of which he owns. For this cuvée, declassified as a Vin de France, he’s blending young-vine fruit from four parcels ranging from Ardoix in St-Joseph to St-Michel-sur-Rhône, and Vérin near Condrieu. Native fermented and 25% whole cluster, has a 12 day maceration in open-top wood tronconique vats followed by 11 months aging, half in the vat and half in neutral barrels. This achieves a full natural ripeness, yet is streamlined sleek, with a gentle puff of reduction that quickly blows off into mineral driven wild blackberry, wild blueberry, damson plum driving through a dusky medicinal cherry haze, tightly edged with herbal sapid green notes. Acidity is lofted, and tannins are slightly tuggy, housing this bright, medium, finessed red to a peppery finish. So Northern Rhone, through a pure lens, and such fantastic value. Take with a slight chill. 92/100 (TR)

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Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. [She is also Correspondent Anorak.]