While many of our offers rhapsodize the glories of great wine, this offer is a paean to very good, to the way an honest, grounded wine can provide us a movingly beautiful experience. Gripa’s ultra-traditional St. Josephs (both colors) are not spherically perfect, unblemished wines nor do they intend to be; these are instead honest, grounded wines that hold the proverbial mirror up to nature. Gripa shows us St. Joseph as it is rather than ‘as it ought to be’: lovers of the region’s traditional pepper-and-violet scented profile will find much to admire here. This ’12 is offering peak pleasure, perfect for the first roast of Fall. - Jason
St Joseph is a large appellation, extending from Condrieu to St Peray and covering 8 to 9 times the vineyard area of Cornas or Hermitage for example. The core of St Joseph however is found in the granitic hills opposite Tain-l’Hermitage, in the communes of Saint-Jean-de-Muzols, Tournon, and Mauves. In Mauves, halfway between the cellars of Jean-Louis Chave and Pierre Gonon, you will find Domaine Bernard Gripa.
Fabrice Gripa, now at the the helm of the domaine, is equally talented with the nutty, sun-kissed whites as with his brooding reds. These reds are uncompromisingly classic representations of St Joseph and the wines often require at least 4-5 years in bottle to allow the fierce tannin to mellow and for the coiled, dark nucleus to relax. The 2012 vintage was classic without either fearsome tannin nor any qualities of overripenss. Almost a decade old, the 2012 St Joseph is in a beautiful spot.
From vines averaging 40 years old (with the oldest planted in 1946!), the fruit is mostly destemmed with just a quarter of the bunches being fermented whole-cluster. The elevage is majority large cask, with a handful of smaller barrels, both new and old, used as well. The wine pours a medium ruby in the glass, its inky depths having faded with time. It has a slight reduction with gamey red and black fruit along with bright pepper. There is some florality and a beautiful mineral clarity in the palate. The tannins are still robust but rounding, offering fine structure on the way to a satisfyingly energetic finish. The only availability for this wine, and a real bargain in 3 packs.