An American jewel
The wines of Hors Catégorie Vineyards are unlike anything Christophe has created before.
“Bravo to the team for this incredible effort,” said Jeb Dunnuck of The Wine Advocate after tasting the first vintage, a 2014 Syrah. “This deep, ruby-colored barrel sample yields a masculine, even austere character in its smoky, early, shiitake mushroom, and bloody meat-driven aromas and flavors.”
2015 HORS CATEGORIE VINEYARD SYRAH
“100 Points. The 2015 Syrah from Hors Catégorie is spectacular, bursting from the glass with a stunning bouquet of smoked charcuterie, blackberries, licorice, dried violets and rich forest floor. Structured around beautifully velvety tannins on the palate, the wine is full-bodied, layered and immensely concentrated, yet it manages to remain weightless. While there's plenty of fruit here, it's this Syrah's mouthwateringly savory qualities that define the protracted, penetrating finish and make the wine so exciting. Cropped at a mere 0.8 tons per acre from a steep hillside vineyard that's trained on stakes à la Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie, this was matured in neutral oak, with the exception of one second-fill puncheon that was eliminated after the first racking, demonstrating that when it comes to new oak and Syrah, less is emphatically more. .” –William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
2014 HORS CATEGORIE VINEYARD SYRAH
“99 Points...the inky colored 2014 Syrah is a huge, unctuous effort the exhibits crazy notes of Asian spice, soy, shiitake mushroom, blackcurrants and tar. Tasking like a young Hermitage la Chappelle from Jaboulet (from a great vintage), with lots of tannin, blood, minerality and smoke, a huge mid-palate, and tons of tannin, it's a tour de force in Syrah I wish I could pour for every reader. Forget bottles for 4-5 years and drink over the following two decades or more.” –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
“97 Points.(14.1% alcohol; made entirely with whole clusters and aged in neutral puncheons): Impressive saturated ruby color. Tight, brooding nose combines blackberry, licorice, lavender, flint, black pepper and brown spices; I would have picked this blind as Hermitage, and a very good one at that. The palate boasts exceptional fruit intensity and finesse, with lovely floral lift, but this strongly saline wine is wound tight in the early going despite showing some superripe notes. The palate-staining finish features serious but suave tannins and unflagging purple fruits. Utterly seamless, bulletproof fruit here. This remarkable wine, representing a yield of under one ton per acre, comes from a 2.2-acre Syrah vineyard planted in 2011 (!) by owner Christophe Baron on a very steep slope in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. I predict that this bottling will become one of the New World's greatest and longest-lived Syrah bottlings as the vines mature.” –Stephen Tanzer, Vinous