Côte Rôtie, Les Schistes, 2017

  Clusel Roch

A new name for what used to be their Côte-Rôtie classique. A lovely, translucent mid-red colour. Excellent crunch and grip here. Thrillingly pure red berry and dark berry fruit, firmed up by a crisp structure. Hints of pepper spice and rock salt, backing up ripe damson notes. This offers a measured power and a super, refreshing poise for a warmer style vintage. Beautifully balanced. A blend largely from the schist, south-east facing vineyards of the Verenay commune including the lower part of Viaillere, Champon and Le Plan. As ever a proportion of whole bunches have been used in fermentation, a little larger than normal given the ripeness of the crop - 50%. Ageing is in oak barriques for at least 15 months with less than 15% new wood.

Contains Sulphites.

About Clusel Roch

This small artisanal Domaine, run by Brigitte Roch, Gilbert Clusel and their son Guillaume, only employs organic methods to work its vineyards and for some time have consistently had some of the lowest yields in the region. Such low yields and excellent vineyard sites help to produce excellent wines that are made in a gentle, pure and refined style. There is little new oak; depending on the vintage a large proportion of whole bunches may be included in fermentations and extractions are soft resulting in elegant, refined and characterful Côte Rôtie that age seamlessly. The standard cuvée is aged in one- and two-year-old barriques for a year, whilst wine from the old vines of Les Grandes Places require ageing in a proportion of new oak barriques, rarely more than 30-40%.

Appellation: Côte Rôtie

Côte Rôtie or "Roasted Slope" is a red wine appellation in the far north section of the Northern Rhône, whose revival was started in 1970s by Marcel Guigal and his famed single vineyard wines but whose history starts as far back as the Romans. Settled in the near by town of Vienne it is believed this could be where they first grew vines in Gaul. Plantings have expanded from 70ha in the 60s to well over 200ha today. The vines are east and south east facing, planted on sheer slopes of schist. The vineyards are so treacherously steep that winches are in use in parts. The north wine can whistle through the valley quite visciously here so vines are staked to hold them in place. Theoretically there are two dinstinct zones: The Côte Blonde, where there are ligther yellower soils producing floral feminine wines and the Côte Brune, where darker, heavier soils predominate making for bigger, muscular, savoury wines. However these distinctions are in reality rather blurred both zones offer too much of a marble of soils to allow such great generalisation, a furthermore vine age, winemaking technique and the components within the blend can further complicate things: Growers use varying degrees of new oak or none at all, de-stalk or ferment with whole bunches, can be lightly or heavily extracted and either make a wine 100% from the red Syrah variety or can include up to 20% of the white Viognier in the blend. Wines with a blend of the latter, even in very small proportions, are very distinctly lighter in colour with pungent floral aromas. A classic Côte Rôtie will contain the tiniest proportions of Viognier or none at all, betray ripe red and black fruit flavours together with a distinct peppery spice and a savoury sap or undergrowth quality. The wine would ordinarily be less heavy and rich than those from the due south facing sunbaked Hermitage hill and but typically be more refined and have higher acidity owing to the acidic schistous soils. A good Côte Rôtie should need 5-7 years after the vintage before being approached and age well for a further 15 years at least. In addition to Guigal some excellent examples are made by Clusel-Roch, René Rostaing and Jamet.

Grape Type: Syrah/Shiraz

The great red grape of the northern Rhône where it reaches its optimum levels in the violet-scented muscular wines of Hermitage and the graceful sappy Côte Rôties, which in the latter case is sometimes blended with Viognier. The wines of Cornas are renowned as producing Syrah-based wines very close in quality to Hermitage, while St Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage also represent some good value examples. It is also a component of many southern Rhône reds, namely Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. As Shiraz, it is Australia's most important red variety, found in various guises from ripe fruit-forward commercial wines to intense concentrated old vine cuvees such as Grange and those of Clarendon Hills. In the best instances Syrah/Shiraz produces deep, spicy, age-worthy wines.