Saint-Joseph, the flagship appellation of the Northern Rhône Valley
It is one of the flagship appellations of the Rhône Valley. The vineyard of the AOC Saint-Joseph extends on the steep slopes of the right bank of the river, between the appellations Condrieu and Côte Rôtie on the one hand, Saint-Péray and Cornas on the other hand. Here, Syrah dominates, giving powerful and fine red wines. The whites remain confidential, with only 10% of the production, but they deserve to be known.
General presentation of the appellation
Saint-Joseph obtained its AOC in 1956. But the quality of this wine has been recognised for much longer. In the Middle Ages, it was served on the tables of the kings of France under the name of "Vin des Mauves". In the 17th century, it was the Jesuits of Tournon whonamed it Saint-Joseph. Its fame is largely due to Victor Hugo, who popularised it in Les Misérables in the 19th century.
The Saint-Joseph appellation extends over 50 km in the northern part of the Rhône Valley vineyards, between Chavanay and Guilherand-Granges. The vineyard plunges into the river from the steep slopes of the right bank. In the Ardèche and the Loire, 26 communes are concerned by the AOC. It is the link between the Condrieu appellation to the north and the Saint-Péray appellation to the south.
On the 1200 hectares that the appellation counts, the syrah dominates. The red wines are therefore in the majority. There are also white Saint-Joseph wines, which represent 10% of the production. For the whites, Roussanne and Marsanne are used, two grape varieties which, since 1980, can be used in the reds up to 10%.
The red Saint-Joseph is distinguished by its elegance and finesse. It has a deep purple colour. When it is young, it is characterised by blackcurrant and even raspberry aromas, as well as sweet spices and pepper. They evolve on notes of liquorice and leather. The tannins are velvety as the wine ages. These wines are particularly appreciated for their power and finesse, a tasty balance resulting from a unique know-how.
More confidential, the white Saint-Joseph can be recognized by its yellow colour with green reflections. It is very aromatic, with floral notes of hawthorn and acacia, mixed with spices and honey. Distinguished, delicate, harmonious, the white wines of the Saint-Joseph AOC are to be discovered.
How to taste a Saint-Joseph
For red wines, it is advisable to serve Saint-Joseph at a temperature of 16-18°. The whites express their flavours at a recommended temperature of 12-14°.
As far as keeping time is concerned, red Saint-Joseph and white Saint-Joseph can be kept for 3 to 10 years.
As far as food and wine pairing is concerned, you can take inspiration from the great classics of Lyon's gastronomy. Indeed, Saint-Joseph is a regular in the bouchons of the capital of the Gauls. The reds work very well with grilled red meat such as flank steak or marinated meat, game, preferably feathered game, black pudding, roast chicken and mature cheeses. The whites go well with fish such as pike, pike-perch or turbot, seafood such as scallops, white meats, spicy dishes such as poultry curry and cheeses such as fourme d'Ambert or bleu d'Auvergne.