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 Vialliére” is renowned 1-hectare single-vineyard. The parcel is notable for its highly decomposed mica schist soil. This shallow friable soil gives the wine its structure, finesse and exceptional elegance. The average age of vines is 20 years. This wine is only produced in favorable vintages.
Varietal: 95% Syrah complemented by 5% 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. 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. Aged 24 to 30 months in demi-muids (100% new oak).
The main difference between “La Sarrasine” and “La Viallière” is the greater quality of tannins, finesse and elegance provided by “La Viallière”. On the mouth, the wine express aromas cigar and violets. Medium to full-bodied, the wine is rich, well concentrated with a great finish.
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: 92 PointsWine Enthusiast Author: Anna Lee
Score: 93 PointsThe Wine Advocate Author: Joe Czerwinski
Score: 92 PointsVinous Author: Josh Raynolds
Score: 94 PointsWine Spectator Author: James Molesworth
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