Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet was created in 1993 by Hervé Souhaut. His holdings on the acidic granite soils of the northern Rhône and the southern Ardèche are a mixture of new and ancient vines—from 50 to over 100 years old. Hervé works 5-hectares of these old and ancient vines, a beautiful and precious resource. He owns two vineyards in Saint-Joseph, just opposite the terraces of Hermitage. This region is, of course, legendary for the quality of its wines, thanks in part to its elevation, ancient vineyard sites, and southeastern and southern exposures. The domaine itself is located further into the hills of the northern Ardeche in the tiny town of Arlebosc, about a 30-minute drive, winding through the hills from St Joseph and the winery is underneath the 16th century “les romaneaux” fortified farm and sits in the middle of the vines that make up the Souteronne, Syrah, and white cuvées.
The Syrah grapes for Hervé’s “baby” cuvée come from a tiny parcel of land along the slopes of the Doux River, where the vines are on average 40-years-old trained in gobelet. At the end of September, the grapes are harvested and then undergo a long maceration at a low temperature in fibreglass-lined tanks. The wine is then matured on the lees in second-hand oak casks for six months and then bottled without being filtered. Cool climate Syrah tends to have very dynamic aromatics and this gem has an exuberant exotic spice. Violets and kalamata olives come in the first wave then notes of bacon, freshly roasted coffee beans, black cherry, wet stone gradually unfurl. The palate echoes many of the above aromas additionally with red and black cherry and juicy plum flavours meshed with candied violets. The tannins are supple, the ensemble harmonious. In the cooler vintages of yore, this wine used to weigh in at around 11%. Even with global toasting, it is still a remarkably weightless wine.