A model of organisation, Côte-Rôtie is all finesse and elegance and unqualified charm, sculpted from time and knowledge. Côte-Rôtie, an astounding AOC.Christophe Tassan
No gentle slopes here: on the right-bank of the Rhône, Côte-Rôtie wines draw their character from the extremely steep hillsides that sometimes reach a gradient of over 60°.
The very narrow vineyard is planted on terraces fewer than 50 vines wide. Located a few miles from Lyon, this is the northernmost appellation in the Rhône Valley. Côte-Rôtie is grown, made, and protected by “Probus’ centurions”: around 100 passionate winemakers that work the vines of these 60 vineyards.
This prestigious cru is made from Syrah grapes that when combined with the viognier produce extraordinarily delicate aromas and remarkably fine tannins.
The wine’s beautiful ruby colour, the complex and elegant nose of spices, summer fruits, black fruits, and violet, its robustness and of course its pedigree make this a highly sought after wine... January sees the Ampuis wine market, which since 1928 has been THE unmissable rendezvous for this appellation.
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 colours and tannin content. In Côte-Rôtie, viognier complements the Syrah with finesse and aromas. The cru’s colour is a deep ruby red.
Its nose can vary from fruits – red or black – to note of violet and spices. It is a robust, pedigree wine that ages very well, and may display notes of woodland, leather, tobacco, or coffee. With a long finish, it is perfectly balanced and quite fat.
2000 years ago, the Roman authors Pliny the Elder and Martial, and the Greek, Plutarch, sang the praises of Côte-Rôtie wines, which they knew as “wine of Vienne”. The first written documents that make mention of Ampuis and Côte-Rôtie date from the 6th century.
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the 13th century saw the reputation of Ampuis’ wines grow even further, and records show wine from Côte-Rôtie being served in the great halls of the princes of England, Russia, Prussia, and, of course, France. The vineyard reached its peak in 1890, with the slightest fold in the hillside that caught the sun being planted.
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.
View the decrees granting appellation status (INAO)1940Birth of AOC Côte-Rôtie
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The Côte-Rôtie vineyards are located on the hillsides of the Rhône’s right-bank, and cover three counties where the wine is made: Saint-Cyr sur Rhône, Ampuis and Tupin-Semons. The vineyards are between 180m and 325m above sea level. There are 73 registered sites among the vineyards.
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.
Very steep, the hillsides of the Côte-Rôtie can sometimes exceed 60°. 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.
surface area276 hectares
in 20138 884 hl
- 100% Red
Sales9 621 hectolitres
Exportation29% exported abroad
Average yield achieved32 hl/ha
* Export figures according to the most recent research
Source : Harvest statement 2013
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