Posts Tagged ‘Cote Rotie’

Delas Brothers – syrah in the Rhone

Syrah wine is great red to drink, and for you to enjoy. Delas Brothers are one old-established maker. Try some syrah soon.

The historic French home of syrah is in this Rhone Valley and here we are visiting the property Delas Freres (brothers) having made wine there since 1835.

They are found alongside the wide and surging river at the plane tree-lined Tournon village on the left Rhone bank in the Appellation Saint Joseph.

On the right bank directly across the river is the companion town of Tain l’Hermitage, with the Appellations Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage dominated with syrah vines.

Syrah on terraces-no tractors - horses or by hand

Syrah on terraces – no tractors – horses or by hand

Synonyms for syrah include hermitage and shiraz (the Australians use the latter).

Our France wine tours  take guests through the Appellations of the Rhone Valley, north and south,  offering introduction-only visits to wineries, only some open to the public.  If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call me direct on +61 427 705 391 or email

Our coach driver, a local, French, closes on this large river, dreadfully in flood, the swirling waters are 50 centimetres below its banks. See my quick video from the bus.

Rhone River floods

The next stop is on that western side (left bank), crossing the brown torrent sweeping downstream from spring rains in the Jura and Switzerland.

Our host, red-headed, a Rhône man, smiling, patiently waits our arriving bus outside the Delas Brothers cellar beneath a vine-clad cliff face. Meet Bruno Gonnet.

Bruno produces a row of bottles. They are all syrah, from this well-travelled grape known here since the Crusaders defended the Holy Land.

The progressive tasting goes: Crozes-Hermitage (right bank), Saint-Joseph (left), Cornas (left), Côte-Rôtie (left), Hermitage (right) wines, all differing parcels (sub-regions), differing qualities, and thankfully from one year, 2013.

Delas have 40 hectares of these vineyards; note the cute vineyard names attached to the tasting notes below.

Delas Domaine des Grands Chemin Crozes-Hermitage 2013 is one of those go to reds to get familiar with grape chunkiness. Distinctively whiffing of roasting meat, a sure smell sign of the enrichment from severe summer temperatures late in the ripening.

Delas Francois de Tournon Saint Joseph 2013 gives more fruit earthiness and less meatiness despite being nearby riverwise. The fact some vines sit on higher terraces whereas Crozes is the flats seems to make aroma differences. Palate is solid.

Delas Chante-Perdrix Cornas 2013 is from a small region further south. A more rounded wine giving heaps of rich taste feelings, pepper hot, earth-ripe, oak dries the mouth but is not tastable.

Delas Chante-Perdrix Cornas 2013 syrah

Delas Chante-Perdrix Cornas 2013 syrah

Delas Seigneur de Maugiron Cote-Rotie 2013 is exceptional, ground breaking syrah. Subtle smells then concentration power, those grapes are taut but expressive. The fineness of palate belies the fact this is syrah and should make a monster impression. It does not. Flavours of pepper, black fruits and earth unwind this wine.

Delas Seigneur de Maugiron Cote-Rotie 2013 syrah

Delas Seigneur de Maugiron Cote-Rotie 2013 syrah

This appellation repeatedly gives wines with finesse and elegance which defeat the perception that syrah has monster body. This is silk finish with the big flavours around my mouth. Hermitage wine typically has larger body.

Delas Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage 2013 syrah

Delas Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage 2013 syrah

Delas Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage 2013 is really lovely wine but as said, is a bigger wine. The pink flowers and violets are accentuated by the longer time in new barrel, oak gives sweetness and a lift to a mouthful of syrah power. Keep tasting the wine and it stays generous.

Hermitage vineyards provide wines worthy of a great experience. For Australian shiraz lovers put this place of production on your bucket list. Then when standing at the foot of the hill you will understand why it tastes how it tastes.

To visit these great wineries of the Rhone in 2017 read more here


Rhone: syrah or shiraz

The red syrah grape dominates the north Rhone Valley, where Uncorked’s travellers often visit for a first occasion.

In Australia the same grape, known as shiraz, is the country’s most widely planted.

Well let’s not worry about that too much because Northern Rhone drinkers are enjoying syrah and styles completely apart from the domestic Australian drop. The reason is called terroir.

There is a clear definition of where to look for it.

Just drive south on the crowded A7 autoroute until reaching Ampuis, then turn your head right. There you’ll view the steep stone-terraced, single stake vines, growing in granite and clay across the river on the slopes of Cote Rotie (translated as hot hillside).

Large billboards displaying brands such as Guigal or Chapoutier or Vidal-Fleury are very stark advertisements.

The geography tells it all, yet the Rotie’s are on the elegant end for Rhone syrah.

There is much talk about Rotie reds containing viognier. They do, but that’s only the old vineyards where this white is interplanted with its red counterpart. Modern re-planted vineyards, say under 40 years, are now all staked with syrah vines.


Further down the A4, about 100 km at Tain l’Hermitage, this time on the near river side is the Hill of Hermitage, again terraced but planted to syrah with white marsanne, and a little, though rarely found, white roussanne.

Jaboulet Chevalier de Sterimberg Blanc

Jaboulet Aine Le Chevalier de Sterimberg Blanc 2011 (marsanne)

Sitting up on the Hermitage Hill (just 132 ha of green) is the Chapel of Chevalier de Sterimberg, a knight who led Holy Land crusades, now owned by Paul Jaboulet Aine (tasting Hermitage Blanc and La Petite Chapelle 2011).

Alongside are most extensive holdings of M Chapoutier, who once made just two wines by blending, but now since 1997 keeps each vineyard separate, white and red. It is a memorable Selections Parcellaires now renamed Fac & Spera collection (tasting Sizeranne 2012).

Across the river Delas Freres at Tournon who are situated in the larger Saint Joseph Appellation, draw grapes from  Domaine des Tourettes (tasting Hermitage 2012). The more northern-based Guigal have plantings also. The M Chapoutier range are diverse, exciting, mouth-smacking and very collectible.

Delas single vineyard Hermitage 2013 (syrah)

Delas single vineyard Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage 2013 (syrah)

At Sizeranne which is biodynamic, the syrah is meaty, yet drawn on tannin, though svelte on the finish. Aussie warm area shiraz is punchy, syrupy, sweeter-alcohol; these Hermitage wines are more linear, lighter body, 13% alcohol, taut and gently rich, though flavoured and subtle. Opposites to the domestic Oz palate shape and different.


Chapoutier Monier de la Sizeranne vineyard Hermitage 2012 (syrah)

Now for Cote-Rotie; the spiritual home of the Guigal family and the many wines produced, varying vine age, selectivity, rarity, price escalation and taste diversity.

The culmination being the three LaLaLa’s (Turque, Landonne, Mouline), which host Stephane Crozet says with a wry smile “sell out each year within the week”.

He served the white Cote-Rotie; (tasted ExVoto Blanc 2012), a swirling marsanne 95% roussanne 5% tied up with a defining long oak treatment, Cote-Rotie Brune and Blonde, two vineyards combined (tasted Cote Rotie 2010), the special Chateau Ampuis where the family oak factory is housed (tasted Chateau Ampuis 2011) then one of the revered single vineyards which can contain up to 12% viognier, depending on the season (tasted La Mouline 2012).

Guigal Cote-Rotie

Guigal Cote-Rotie Brune and Blonde vineyards 2011 (syrah)

Apart from Guigal’s dominance, for an absent owner, Chateauneuf-du-Pape maker Brunel de la Gardine makes excellent Rotie (tasted Cote Rotie 2013). And Jaboulet provided a neat Domaine des Picuelles (tasted Cote-Rotie 2012), all elegance. The Delas single vineyard Seigneur de Maugiron was excellent in silkiness, never confusing, just delicious in its line (tasted Cote-Rotie 2013).

And the only old and funky (looking like old Barossa also) was a Delas single vineyard, a rarer Cote-Rotie (tasting La Landonne 2006).

Why is Cote Rotie an amazingly elegant wine? I guess you can resolve to attend a visit such as this to see for yourselves; compare wine by wine, Hermitage versus Cote Rotie; the elegant and concentrated syrah versus equally concentrated yet silky finish.

Still syrah, still shiraz but never Aussie. The latter is far more butch than the Frenchmen. See for yourself some time, step outside the world of sweet fruit to that of the savoury. Voila.

Uncorked and Cultivated’s wine tourists visited the Northern Rhone makers Guigal, Chapoutier, Jaboulet and Delas during June 2016.

Italy and France Food and Wine Tours | Edition Nineteen | June 2014

Farmhouse Formaggi Restaurant il Vigneto, Alba

Farmhouse Formaggi Restaurant il Vigneto, Alba

During our Italy and France Food and Wine tours Uncorked and Cultivated tour leaders focus a great deal on the tastes, styles and method of production of the farmhouse cheese served in our hosting restaurants (goat, cow, sheep). The appearance and shapes differ a great deal, so I am very comfortable with my Italian copy of Slow Food’s Formaggi d’Italia to assist identification. We recently struck a relationship with cheese expert Graham Redhead, a cheesemaking coach for home chefs, he advises on all styles. Graham’s help has been invaluable and we highly endorse his skills and experience. To register your attendance in the east Australia try Cheesemaking to make the curd and see how cheese results.

Champion Wine Drinking Nations

Annually statisticians release data about the drinks industry. While it is pretty dry stuff, we now know USA consumes the greatest volume of wine of any nation. Also described are some fairly frivolous reports of the highest per capita consuming countries. 5th is Slovenia, 4th St Pierre et Miquelon (former French islands 25 km from the Newfoundland coast), 3rd France, 2nd Andorra (tax free enclave) and 1st The Vatican. Clearly the Italian stats are clouded by Papal visitors and further distorted by wine memento sales not for consumption. France and Italy are regarded as the largest per capita consumers as wine is drunk at meal times by the entire family.

Tuscan Tales- Gran Selectione Chianti Wine Classified

Badia a Passignano

Badia a Passignano

About the time the Institute of Masters of Wine held its 8th Symposium in Florence early May, the first examples of Tuscany’s new super DOCG classification-Gran Selectione (GS) proclaimed last year-were displayed and tasted. From current reports the GS though intended to be a level above Chianti Classico Riserva, is being placed on existing wine which is in store; few wines currently appear to stand up to this tier of excellence. There is even a lot of criticism about this concept. Prices rise too, yet it is an opportunity to display unique pieces of vineyard terroir which would never be tasted or sold separately. Uncorked’s next visit to Antinori’s Tignanello winery will discover the Badia a Passignano 2009, usually a Riserva, which has been promoted to GS. 35 wines passed the external selection panel for this 2014 declaration (stock ranged between 800 and 500,000 bottles).

Guigal’s 10 “LaLas” cause a storm

Rhone producer Guigal’s release of the three hero shiraz viogniers grown on the Cote Rotie, known colloquially as “LaLas” from the vineyards La Turque, La Landonne and La Mouline from 2010 vintage is pushing the LiveX (UK auction scale) to record heights. Trading in luxury wines is similarly documented to trading in equities. Uncorked and Cultivated’s tours visit this fashionable property in Ampuis where the welcome is from Melbourne-born Brett Crittenden, Guigal’s ambassador at large. Philippe Guigal visited Australia recently, presenting us with his entire high-end 2010 range (Lalas included) in a landmark tasting under Negociants Australia “Working with Wine” programme. These are monster wines, aged 48 months in new barrels, making drinks needing years in cellars at about 12 oC working towards ultimate fusion.

Phillipe Guigal presents “Working with Wine”, Rhône Varieties 2014

Philippe Guigal presents “Working with Wine”, Rhône Varieties 2014

Predict the wine future – Robert Parker does!

Renowned wine critic Robert M. Parker announced his predictions about the wine world for 2014 recently. He used his Twitter account to share his forecast.

Well his prediction 9 has blown up. That the Coravin wine preservation “gadget” from the US would revolutionise how we taste rare wine (by taking an extract through its cork). Reports are that some users have experienced bottle explosions. Uncorked was to have received a test Coravin six months ago; so maybe it is safer to not sample test the oldest Barolo in the cellar. Just drink it!

Natural winemaking at COS winery, Vittoria, Sicily

Natural winemaking at COS winery, Vittoria, Sicily

Parker’s prediction 3 was “The undefined scam called “natural” or “authentic” wines will be exposed as a fraud-(most serious wines have no additives)” will continue to court controversy. The small international band of natural wine followers is quite vocal. Quite curiously Australia’s wine authorities came down with a heavy hand recently, unconsulted, to outlaw the indiscriminate use of “orange” on Australian bottle labels. They expect to stamp out the potential label confusion with the GI of Orange in New South Wales. The Georgians, who invented this winemaking practice about 6-8,000 years ago, prefer to describe their white wines of this type as “amber”.

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