Bottle, carafe, wine glass, and an arrangement of wine corks.

Michel Gassier Les Piliers Syrah 2016, KAPOW!

I’m in love. Lush, earthy, cool-climate syrah. A *huge* amount of flavor. If you are lucky enough to find some and you like Great Big Reds like we do, grab some! Don’t be surprised if you go back the next day for more.

Right on the label: “…seductive, brooding, and elegantly aromatic. Chock full of violets, red fruits and bacon….” Raise your hand if you want your syrah brooding and chock full of bacon. Cheers!

It pays to air it out for an hour. But if you pour a wee glass and drink slowly, you win right away. Plus you get the full experience of the wine tasting better and better with each passing minute.


The “Big” in Great Big Reds stands first for flavor. This has loads of flavor. “Chock full” on the label is understated. “Overflowing” might be closer. “Volcanic eruption” might be a slight exaggeration… but you tell me.

At 14% ABV, it’s in the range we like for cool-climate syrah. If anything, it feels a bit thicker than 14%.


It’s one of these wines I can sit around sniffing for hours. The smell just floods out of the glass. Every altitude has a different sort of joy.

Drinking it, it’s like a riot in your mouth. Different effects at every point in your mouth, and changing — ahem, riotously — with each passing moment.

An adequate description would require Batman-TV-series-like emphasis: WHAM. That was at the back of the mid-palate on the left. BAM: a large enough mouthful to dry out the saliva and there’s red fruit flooding up through my nose. KAPOW!!! I don’t even know what hit me there. Not even sure *where*. Need. Another. Sip.

Yeah, great.

Here’s a clip from Jeb Dunnuck: “It’s a screaming value that reminds me of a St. Joseph with its blue fruits, bay leaf, mint, and subtle minerality. Full-bodied, rich and concentrated, it seemingly has one foot in the Northern Rhône and one in the Southern Rhône.”

Note: “screaming value”. My purveyor has it for way less than $20.

The story

Great wine always has a story. True story: although “Michel Gassier” sounded familiar, the first three bottles I drank, it felt like a guilty pleasure. I was worried it was some soulless megacorp that had done insane wine-making tricks to amp up the flavor.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

When I was finally brave enough to look it up in the internets — NOT.

“Michel Gassier” sounded familiar because I had scored a couple of bottles of Le Fervent — under the Tenet brand. Awesome stuff. The total opposite of megacorp wine made with stupid wine-making tricks. There’s so much flavor because that’s what he gets out of the grapes and terroir without the megacorp tricks.

The story of this wine is that Michel Gassier gets cool-climate-ish syrah even though it’s about as far south as you can get — in fact, *because* it’s so far south. About ten miles from the Mediterranean Sea. An afternoon wind kicks up and cools the vineyards. And then, a little research will give you the sense that careful farming plays into it. Again, it’s right there on the bottle’s label: “Our craft lies in helping our vines embrace their terroirs, first with their roots and then with their buds, tendrils, runners, leaves, and finally their fruit.”

Far from a guilty pleasure, it’s a *proud* pleasure to drink a wine made honestly with a result like this.

Thank you, Michel Gassier, and the entire team!