Soulfulness in the Northern Rhone: 2012 Gonon Saint-Joseph

Posted by Ian McFadden

Soulful Authenticity
in the Northern Rhône
2012 Gonon Saint-Joseph

It's always exciting to offer out the wines of Pierre and Jean Gonon, but the offer is always double-edged.

It comes down to this: These are wines that I love and that sell out quickly every vintage. It's hard for me to part with the wines.

Gonon has continued to blow up over the past year. Once people taste their wines, they get very, very excited and buy more. It's simple as that. Case in point: the day the Gonon's '12s went online the orders started to roll in. And the '12 is a vintage not to miss.

The limited nature has as much to do with the small-scale production—old-school, hands-off winemaking from impossibly steep slopes in the Northern Rhône—as with the dedicated cult following for wines of this elusive style. These wines get snapped up quickly, and once they're gone, it's unlikely we'll find more.

The Gonon brothers' wines are a tribute to the old guard of the Northern Rhône. They harken back to a time when the likes of Verset, Trollat and Gentaz-Dervieux were producing wines based on intuition and time-earned mastery, a genre that is now all but extinct. (And when these names do make a rare appearance, sky-high prices are inevitably attached.)

Pierre and Jean Gonon are making wines with that same honesty and soul. The old vines here, some passed down from old-school legend Raymond Trollat, cling to terraces that the brothers plow by horse or by hand.

From these steep, steep granite slopes, the Gonon brothers coax out an incarnation of Syrah that is delicate, detailed and entirely without artifice. This is Saint-Joseph left slightly wild, with wisps of smoke and spice, of earth and deep blue fruit, all wrapped around a rock-solid mineral core.

Gonon's are among the wines I seek out regardless of vintage, but the 2012 vintage is one to take notice of. 2012 in the Northern Rhône shares the clarity and brightness that 2010 offered, but comes across less sternly. It's a vintage I love for its drinkability, beautiful balance and ultra-fine ageworthy structure. 2012 is pure and classic, capturing the elegant side of Saint-Joseph.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a smarter buy for your cellar than Gonon's Saint-Joseph, as a wine that offers both serious value and serious aging potential. After seven to 10 years, the stony structure the wines show in their youth gives way to reveal even more nuance and depth.

Again, I need to end with the caveat: there is never enough of this wine. Please give us your ideal order and we'll do our best.

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine and Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits