In the summer of 2012, after a stunning cellar tour at one of  the great wineries of  Hermitage, M. Chapoutier, I sat down at  a little cafe in town.  A number of bruised-knuckled Frenchmen came in–we were in rural France, after all– and started laughing with the proprietor. I was at the next table with a handful of students from the Wine School talking about our recent exploits in the region. The men must overheard us, because they were full of smiles and sent us over a bottle of wine with their compliments.

Turns out, the little joint we stopped in to was frequented by most of the local winemakers for lunch. The bottle they sent over? It was this Domaine Pradelle, albeit an older vintage.

Very little of this wine is imported into the United States, and most of it ends up in the Philly-NYC corridor, which is fine by me.  It’s one of the great values of the Northern Rhone and shows very high quality vintage to vintage.

Like all Northern Rhone wines, this is Syrah. And like all Northern Rhone wines, this isn’t the Syrah of your childhood. This isn’t big and fruity or a popgun shenanigan. It’s a marrow-sucking dip into the pleasure palace.

This is a wine that is rich and full while keeping its granite-like edge and muscular leanness. It’s  a serious wine but offers plenty of enjoyment.  Bright fresh cherry and rosemary flavors are followed with a cool eucalyptus note that wavers and falls into Belgian chocolate and grainy tannin.

For a pairing, I love this with braised rabbit and potatoes. A simple dish of sausage and fava beans is equally pleasurable with this bottle.