Aurelien Chatagnier Saint Joseph La Sybarite 2021

There’s a darkness to the Syrah of the Northern Rhône that extends beyond its color. A rippling curtain that shades something ominous, but enticing. It starts with intoxicating black plum and blueberry aromas that waft above the surface and continues with white pepper, smoke, incense, and deep forest. You almost don’t see the gamey, animalistic flavors coming — this is supposed to be a story about fruit, right? But here, they’re tempting. When you drink this Syrah, you connect to something primal.

The winemaking lions of the Northern Rhône have spent decades, centuries even, perfecting their craft. Passing vineyards down from parent to child. But there’s a new name ringing out through these craggy vineyards, and it’s Aurelien Chatagnier.

Aurelien set out at the age of 20 to make great wine on the insanely steep hills around the town of Saint-Pierre-de-Boeuf. Now in his 40s, he’s succeeded.

A sybarite is a hedonist. A sensualist. But also a gourmand. Someone whose thirst for the finest is insatiable — although this Saint Joseph just might quench it. A blend of Syrah from four different communes where Aurelien has developed or rehabilitated vineyards, it’s powerful, elegant, and brambly. It starts out with a wash of red fruit on the nose, followed by purple flowers, freshly sharpened pencils, worn leather, and fruit leather. This is a fresh, light-on-its-feet rendition of Syrah that’s ready to drink right now.