This is an expensive wine, and an even more expensive Crozes-Ermitage (at $40 retail). But this Varonniers more than delivers both as a Crozes-Ermitage, as well as a Northern Rhone wine. It’s a packed wine that delivers perfect balance from when the bottle is first opened until it’s finished 3 days later. There’s good extraction (but not overblown at all), juicy acidity, explosive dark fruit and briny black olive paste, good earthiness, meatiness, and even some fine minerality. Laser focused fruit and precise on the palate. At $40, this is a steal as it is not just a top Crozes-Ermitage, but also a very fine Northern Rhone Syrah that can go head to head with many an Hermitage. Highly recommended.