The wines from Côte Rotie are among the greatest wines in the world. Côte Rotie translates to “roasted slope” due to the amount of sunshine the steep slopes receive. The appellation is south-facing and not greatly affected by northerly winds, and has a temperate continental climate similar to that of Lyon: winters are mild, summers hot, and rainfall is regular. The “Mediterranean” influence can be felt in the “drying” southerly wind. While it proved resistant to phylloxera and other diseases, the Great War of 1914-1918 claimed 150 winemakers, meaning some of the hillsides fell out of use. In 1960, only 60 hectares of production remained, but the 1980s saw the vineyard’s revival. The appellation was given fresh impetus and acquired international renown. Almost all of the vines are planted on metamorphic rocks: pressure and temperature – which are higher in the south of the appellation – have created three different terroirs: mica schists in the north, Gneiss to the south, and migmatite at the south-eastern tip. In Côte-Rôtie, the parent rock contains a large number of fractures that provide the vines’ roots with access to the water and minerals contained therein.
Terroir: “La Sarrasine” is Bonserine’s signature wine. It is a blend of 10 terroirs mostly coming from the North part of the appellation in the Côte Brune (brown slope), hence the name “Sarrasine” (translating to “Saracen”). Côte Blonde is the larger of the two hills with a terroir of sand, granite, schist rock, and limestone soils. Those elements crate a lighter colored soil than the Côte Brune. Côte Blonde is located slightly south of Côte Brune giving it a south by south east exposure. Côte Brune has is the smaller of the two hills and has a terroir of clay and iron oxide along with granite, mica, schist rock and limestone soils. Those elements create a darker colored soil than you find on the Côte Blonde. These differences in terroir explain the power and more masculine style of wine from the Côte Brune, versus the opulent, lush qualities found in Côte Blonde wines. The average age of vines is 30 years.
Varietal: 97 % Syrah complemented by 3 % Viognier, adding pretty floral notes. Côte-Rôtie is the only red cru in the Northern Côtes du Rhône to plant Viognier (up to 20%) alongside the Syrah. The Syrah produces quality wines, with rich colors and tannin content. In Côte-Rôtie, viognier complements the Syrah with finesse and aromas.
Vinification: Severe pruning, leaf plucking, and if necessary a green harvest, to ensure low yields of healthy ripe grapes (AOC authorizes 44hl/ha but Bonserine averages 30-35 hl/ha.) Hand-harvested and sorted three times to select only the best grapes. Every parcel is vinified separately and fermentation triggered by its own wild yeast. The yeast present naturally on the skin helps the terroir to express itself. At Bonserine, the philosophy is to work “as naturally as possible”, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. All vineyard work is conducted following sustainable practices; in all its vineyard farming, no herbicides, chemicals or pesticides are employed. Maceration lasts four weeks; the goal is to do more pump-overs than punch-down in order to extract the noblest tannins. The wine was aged for 24 months in 600-liter oak casks named “demi-muids” (60% new)
The most forward and charming of the range, medium-bodied, this wine expresses well all the richness and complexity of a great Côte Rotie. The wine expresses dark fruit, rose, violet aromas with silky and crunchy tannins. It can age for 10 to 15 years.
2013 vintage: The spring was cold and rainy making it hard for the vines to grow. But luckily, great Summer conditions helped the vineyard be back on track. The grapes were harvested late, mid-October, but they express a fantastic phenolic maturity.
Pairing: Ideal with poultry, grilled red meat and cheese.
Score: 91 PointsJebDunnuck.com Author: Jeb Dunnuck
Score: 91 PointsWine Enthusiast Author: Anna Lee
Score: 90 PointsThe Wine Advocate Author: Joe Czerwinski
Score: 91 PointsVinous Author: Josh Raynolds
Score: 93 PointsWine Spectator Author: James Molesworth
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