Forgotten Northern Rhone: 2010 A La Tache St.-Joseph Badel

Posted by Joe Salamone

Northern Rhône:
A Steep, Forgotten Vineyard
2010 A La Tâche St.-Joseph Badel
Beautiful, Tension-filled Syrah

A La Tâche means "at work" and their work is no joke.

If you're Allemand, Gonon, or pretty much any top Northern Rhône producer, you have the A La Tâche boys on speed dial to work your steepest, most back-breaking terraced vineyards.

Along with their vineyard management business, they dedicate a corner of their garage to making tiny quantities of St.-Joseph.

As you can imagine, they know the vineyards of the Northern Rhône backwards and forwards and have spent plenty of time hanging out in the cellars of the greats.

All of this shows in their wines. Each time I've tasted an A La Tâche, it's left a deep impression on me. There's an honesty, a purity, and a clarity to the wines that I really love.

The 2010 Badel delivers all of these traits pristinely. The recent explosion of interest in the Northern Rhône had many causes, but the fact that it coincided with the 2010 vintage is no accident. 2010 is thrilling in its purity, its detail and in the clarity with which it shows what makes the traditional wines of the Northern Rhône so special.

When you talk to growers in the Northern Rhône, you hear again and again that St.-Joseph has some great vineyards and that many of these vineyards are at risk of disappearing.

Badel is certainly one of the vineyards that occupy a precarious position. Badel is a ridiculously steep terraced vineyard on granite that's very difficult to work. The site is also very cool. The '09 and '10 both didn't get above 12 percent. Compare this to Guillamy, their other cuvée, which is 13.5 in 2010

The wine that A La Tâche produces from Badel is hauntingly beautiful, showing the coolness of the site in the best way. Badel shows a shivering, pointed, nervy side of St.-Joseph with a firm backbone of polished minerals. It's a really unusual and compelling expression of St.-Joseph and Syrah in general. The aromatics, tension and overall finesse are lovely.

It probably doesn't need to be said that winemaking here respects the Northern Rhône's traditions - stems are included, fermentation is with native yeasts in open-top fermenters with temperature control and the wines age for 16 months or more in old wood, sulphur is only added at bottling.

I've been waiting for the 2010 A La Tâche to arrive for a long time. And they've more than lived up to my high expectations. I've said this before, but it should be repeated. They deserve high praise and gushing prose, but they are such subtle and honest wines that such things feel inappropriate. I'll just close by saying that I've bought a bunch of Badel for myself and look forward to following it.

Before closing, I should mention that there's not a lot of this available. Please give us your ideal order and we'll try our best.

To order, email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits