|Dard & Ribo|
Note the hand written labels in the background there.
René-Jean Dard and François Ribo first established their domaine in 1984 and now count 7.5 hectares in Crozes-Hermitage, Saint Joseph and a couple of rows in Hermitage to their name, all of which are farmed biodynamically.
Suitably the wines are also made with minimal intervention of any kind, with no temperature control, added yeasts etc etc. It's natural wine here no question about it. As with so many natural European producers, the wines are all sealed with the most ridiculous plastic corks ever, the sort of hard plastic rubber bullet looking things that really shouldn't be allowed anywhere near wine in the first place, let alone with super premium Rhone goodies.
Then again the duo also believe that there wines should be able to be drunk soon after release (a bit about that here) and thus are also less worried about the fallability of shit plastic corks. The argument there is that they don't want natural corks (cork taint) and don't like screwcaps (too reductive for natural wines) so plastic stoppers are the only answer. Clearly they've not drunk any screwcap sealed Pyramid Valley recently then....
Regardless, these are seriously interesting wines, with all the vitality and life that you'd want/expect. The reds generally are more successful than the whites and these 09's are particularly successful (whilst many of the 08's are said to be refermenting in the bottle).
Oh and besides the crap plastic corks, the labels are also very hard to tell apart, with the single vineyard Crozes Hermitage having the vineyard name literally painted on the bottle in what looks like liquid paper and the back labels routinely wonky. Handmade to the max...
Dard & Ribo Hermitage Blanc 2009 (Hermitage, France) 13% $100
100% Roussanne this one and built in a classically oxidative, nutty 'natural' style. What's most remarkable about this white is just how fresh it is. Oxidative but fresh, like the very best, although this certainly pushes the edges a little with it's overt cut red apple styling. Moreso the acidity in this is bracing and even a fraction abrasive, giving the back end a little fire and fury. In the end I rather like it, and it does taste wonderfully winey, with no shortage of textural stratum to have you coming back. It's still an odd and divisive white wine though, which has to be taken into account. I'm calling it favourably though, particularly given the persistance. 17.5/91
|Dard & Ribo|
Wonky back label
All the Dard & Ribo labels seems to have 13% on them, so it's probably just an arbitrary mark. No matter when the wine lives up to expectations though (like it does here).
What's most delectable about this wine is how refreshing and unforced it is. No shortage of structure or flavour either, which just goes to show that you don't need shedloads of ripeness to get structure. Important message there.
It smells plain juicy actually, with a peachy 'au naturel' oxidative edge in there (just for consistency of course) alongside some slightly subdued sinewy red fruit. What I love is the dry, perfectly weighted rocky dark fruit juiciness to the palate, all set with a nutty edge. The tannins are a triumph for Shiraz/yrah with sprightly acidity to match, all combining to make for a most attractive, just medium bodied style.
In many ways this is a somewhat challenging wine to fully describe - there's a purity here but also more than a dollop of weird natural wine acidity. The lightness though ultimately makes for a wine that is dangerously drinkable and plain intriguing. Like. 18.4/94