The Mayor of Ampuis for many years; his daughter Christiane married René Rostaing, and thence emerged the domaine of the same name, started in 1971, with all these wonderful terroirs reunited in 1993. Albert's last vintage was 1989. In the early 1970s, he was the only grower with bottles from vintages such as 1929 and 1947, a rare vigneron with that sense of historical perspective.
LVT 2016 r 2017 wh André worked in industry until 1992, then took over the family farm. Now only wine production done here. A little is sold in bulk. Quality is on the rise, with genuine, butty, traditional wines, whole bunch fermentations. The 2015 Côte-Rôtie Gerine [a plot specific wine] was a **** wine, pre-bottling. Since 2015 there has been a second Côte-Rôtie called Le Peintre, which comes from three different sites: both 2015 and 2016 were ***(*) wines. André had a bad racing car accident in 2017 that left him on a slow path to rehabilitation, with crutches needed.
LVT 2018 r A northern sector domaine, with vineyards at some altitude. The wines have usually needed time to soften, having been backward and upright early on. The 2006 and 2007 were softer, however, the 2010 classy, the 2012 and 2014 clear, the ***** 2015 wholesome, the ****(*) 2016 full of charm. The definite trend is towards clearer fruit and earlier accessibility. Generally, they repay ageing in bottle, and drinking in autumn to spring times of year, especially in the firmer vintages. The quality is very consistent. Bernard was joined by his son Pierre in 2019, an agricultural engineer who previously worked in wine marketing for Castel, based in Lyon. Bernard officially took retirement on 31 December, 2019
refined, gently fruited wines, pretty authentic wine used to be drunk at home, vineyard expanded from late 1980s mainly southern sector a man with an eye for detail
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh A domaine that since 2003 has grown from 3+ hectares to 5 hectares. Cédric [pictured, on right, with Christophe Bonnefond] is the son-in-law of previous domaine chief René Fernandez, and took over in 2003. The wines are direct, bustling, and pretty genuine. Le Plomb is more tenacious and dark than the Montmain. The Le Plomb crop was sold to Chapoutier until 2013, when it was first issued as a domaine wine. Some of the Montmain is sold to Ferraton. Half is bottled, half sold in bulk/crop form. The Condrieu Piaton [2008 Viognier] is soft and authentic. From 2020, elder son Romain (1996), who has done a bts at Montpellier, is working on the domaine, while younger son Maxime (1998), who did studies at Bel Air, has been working chez Christophe Billon.
LVT 2017 0.5 hectare of the old Marius Chambeyron vineyard that I knew in the 1970s. It is based on 1970s Syrah, and is handled with low intervention - wild yeasts, whole bunches, 18 months raising, a little new oak. It is authentic, traditional, and the 2016 took me back a couple of decades, which is praiseworthy. The 2017 was a massively STGT wine, an iron and floral ****(*) triumph. The family own the very successful Jardins de la Côte-Rôtie vegetable, fruit and epicerie shop just south of the village of Ampuis, a good address for hungry tasters, with a good part of the produce their own.
LVT 2009 r Dedicated, grass roots operator. Planting in Condrieu as well. Southern zone base.
LVT 2020 r 2018 wh This is now one of the leading names, the boys' vineyards placed in the southern sector, only hillside vineyards at Tupin-Semons. The two sons have split the wine into three cuvées, La Germine, from three different sites, Maison Rouge, from the gneiss-granite site of that name, and a third, produced on its own from 2018, the Coteau de Tupin. added in 2018. There is a basic fourth wine called La Chana (60% own crop, 40% purchased crop, an early wine aimed at the restaurant trade), added in 2016.
The style is for rich, upfront wines, with greater elegance coming forward from the mid to late 2010s. The top wine in 2019 and 2020 was the Maison Rouge, both years ****(*), the 2020 more silken and earlier drinking. In search of a deep, keeping wine, the Coteau de Tupin [1,000-1,500 bottles] is showing off good terroir. They retain 80% of the stems on it, which works well, the 2019 a ****(*) wine of verve and movement, the 2020 a **** STGT wine, bang on target from its decomposed granite soils. The La Germine is now a 20,000-25,000 b wine, and was ***** in 2015, pre-bottling, **** in 2016 and 2019. From 2014 there has been a Condrieu called Les Caillets, made from purchased crop - the 2017 was a refined **** wine, a good achievement in that powerful vintage.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh An underestimated domaine that grew tobacco between 1972 and 1982, and a lot of apricots until 1998. The wine has all been bottled since 1999, though the Syrah vin de pays is sold as bag in the box, and the Viognier vin de pays and Côtes du Rhône red are sold to local customers. There is sound to very good quality across the range, with progress noted recently. The new Lancement cuvée was a praiseworthy ****(*) STGT wine in 2016, a very well structured ***** wine in both 2017 and 2018. Good sites combined with vineyards over 20 years old are helping that progress. The Condrieu Vernon is good as well - it has been a robust wine for la table, but was most fragrant and tender in the hot vintage of 2018, a **** wine. Son Matthieu, born in 1986, started with the 2010 vintage.
LVT 2017 r northern sector vineyard on full schist. These are full wines that have been made in the traditional way, unchanged over the past decades, via whole bunches, 550-litre and a 22 hl barrel for ageing, the rest of the crop sold to local merchant. Very sadly, Joel Champet died in 2017 after a long fight against cancer, which he bore stoically, and refused to give in. The brothers have been updating the domaine, with the introduction of steel vats that allow temperature control. The style is changing towards more emphasis on fruit, and earlier drinking than hitherto. A superior wine called Les Fil à Jo was introduced in 2015 (1,500 b) and in 2016 (2,000 b). It receives six months more cask raising - 24 months.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh This domaine is making very steady progress, with Christophe Semaska gaining confidence in his own abilities, and less reliant on heavy vinification techniques. The domaine operates on a rolling 18 year rental contract on the 8 hectares of land at Montlys with the family who own the Château de Montlys. This acts as a constraint on his development of scrub land into vineyards, should the contract not be renewed. The location at the most northern end of the appellation means its wines can contain noted tannins, and rely on good ripening years to flesh themselves out.
The Fleur de Montlys delivers a little more body than the classic. It contains 10-15% Viognier, which gives it charm and squeeze in the texture. A ***** 2015 has been followed by ****(*) in 2018 and also in the excellent vintage of 2019. The big new arrival is the Côte-Rôtie Lancement, made from 1972 Serine, massale vines. First made in 2012, the 2013-2015 have been ****, ****(*) and ***** wines. The ***** 2019 was vinified by son Clément, a very good start from him, with his focus especially on the whites.
There are two Condrieus, both good quality. Christophe has also produced merchant wines since the 2000s, including two Rasteau reds, both oak raised, and a small edition, traditional style Châteauneuf-du-Pape red. He has planted Syrah near Vienne at St Alban les Vignes, the wine a Coteaux de Vienne vin de pays. The IGP Coteaux de Vienne Vénus red, from 2003 Syrah, was attarctive, nicely fresh **** wine in 2017, but like all the Vienne and Seyssuel wines is not cheap. In 2012 a new cellar was built next to the N86 road.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh A prime STGT domaine, it has been officially organic since 2002, but practices go back further. The often schist vineyards are mostly in the northern sector, and the vineyards are worked with tremendous care; they include the use of home cuttings or selection massale Syrah. The wines are usually refined and understated, and are very pure. They benefit from ageing, and carry a Burgundian finesse mixed with northern Rhône depth and sinew. The domaine expanded in 1989 after the retirement of René Clusel and the arrival of Brigitte Roch.
Les Grandes Places is a formidable wine of challenging complexity and well worth the outlay. It is based on 1935 Serine vines, and can be STGT, as it was in the ***** 2018. La Viallière, revived in 2009, is also a winner. In 2018 a third plot-specific wine called Champon was introduced, the best 0.5 hectare of its 1.5 hectares in a 2,000 bottle cuvée - the rest continues to go into the Les Schistes wine, formerly called Cl;assique. It is based on 1960s Syrah, and is a notch below the other two parcellaire wines.
Son Guillaume is starting to make his own mark, with his 2014 and 2015 Saint-Joseph reds successful, the 2015 a **** w.o.w. wine. From 2019 there is a late 2000s Syrah Côtes du Rhône called Les Vergers from the plateau above Verenay and Le Plomb; it gives good, well-fruited drinking. He also makes his own trio of wines from the Côteaux du Lyonnais, two Gamays and one Chardonnay.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh Owned by Guigal since 2006. The wines receive the usual Guigal polish. The house style is for elegance, with a near Burgundian feel. There is a northern sector emphasis - namely schist - in the vineyards. The Condrieu, Saint-Joseph red, Crozes-Hermitage red, Côtes du Rhône red and white are supplied from their négociant business, Tradivin. Quality is solid to very good here, and more regular now that Guigal is le proprietaire.
The top Côte-Rôtie is La Garde, 65% from Côte Brune, 35% from an excellent Côte Blonde plot, with the 2015 ****** wine, pre-bottling, the 2020 a balanced, classy ***** wine, also pre-bottling. The much larger production (40,000 b, 15 sites, 80% northern sector, nothing South of the Côte Blonde) La Sarrasine is a safe bet, gives a decent glass of Rôtie, while the La Viallière vineyard (1992-97), on loose mica-schist, is growing up now, and becoming more interesting, can get as high as **** to ****(*).
LVT 2015 r 2015 wh There is a laissez-faire approach in the vineyard and in the cellar, with only a light touch applied. There is a southern zone predominance, so elegance rather than power is the watchword. The wines can lack deep-seated stuffing; the best is usually Paradis, although the main production wine the Corps de Loup, was the top 2015 wine at ****, when they were tasted pre-bottling. There is a tender Condrieu also, though the 2015 was a firm ***(*) wine, with character. The Domaine was bought in 1992 - the Daubrées had no wine background before then, and were residents of Lyon.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh A domaine on the march under nephew Maxime Gourdain (pictured, with his uncle Louis and a bottle of 1985 and of 1947, both remarkable wines when tasted in February 2020), with an impressive set of 2013s to 2019s - there are now three wines instead of just one. The plot-specific Besset from the north end of the appellation at Verenay started out in impressive fashion in 2013, and has been either **** or ****(*) from then until 2016. It shows genuine breeding as it is raised in the cellar, gaining in authority and dimension. In the past Rosiers has been an unpretentious, middle-plus rank Côte-Rôtie, marked by traditional winemaking, submerged cap rather than punching down during fermentation. Gradual updating of casks here has been a good sign. Around 35% of the wine and some harvest is sold to merchants from the southern Rhône, since the cellar isn't large enough to handle everything. The domaine has previously been best in the good years, but I detect gradually improving wines here of real authenticity.
From 2014 there has been a small amount of Condrieu following a vineyard swap with Vignobles Chirat at Condrieu. It is finding its feet, and has been supplemented with another 0.12 hectare, also at St Michel-sur-Rhône; the 2018 was a natrual, beau **** wine. Nephew Maxime has been in charge of the domaine since May 2013; he is Louis’ sister Huguette’s son, and studied at Mâcon Davayé. He did training stints in Savoie, Beaujolais and chez Jean-Michel Gérin.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh A domaine created in 2009. The Côte-Rôtie vines were planted in the late 1980s. The two brothers’ grandparents started the cultivation in the 1940s. They have four hectares of vineyards across Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Vin de Pays in Syrah and Marsanne. The 2017 Côte-Rôtie Maisons Blanches [southern sector granite, raised 24 months, 70% new oak] was an agreeable, country style ***(*) wine, with the 2018 **** in rating, a wine of concentration and iron in its make-up. There is a second Côte-Rôtie in 2018, which was a compact, authentic **** wine. The 2017 Condrieu Le Bois Lombard, from young Viognier, was a genuine ***(*) wine.
LVT 2015 r Traditional, low profile domaine. Son Philippe was lending some impetus, but suffered a very bad accident, severing tendons and nerves in his right hand, in 2008. His sister Valérie was working as an accountant in Condrieu, and returned to the domaine. Philippe is a qualified oenologue, and Valérie looks after vinification. The prevailing influence is the southern sector, meaning finesse, and gentle flavours, a traditional style.
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh Another domaine starting to relinquish whole bunch, traditional winemaking, but the outlook is good. The Garons and their two sons work plot by plot, with a submerged cap system. The wines are mainly traditional, nicely filled, and have gradually improved over the past 15 years, nice and steady progress made. 2018 saw a first class collection across the Côte-Rôtie range - see below.
The top wine is Les Rochins, from an excellent site in the northern zone, Les Rochains. Its Brune soils, which contain some clay, coped well with the high heat and drought of 2017, giving a ****(*) wine, with the best balance of the four Côte-Rôties. The 2018 is a knock-out *****, full of trembling energy, long life ahead, the 2019 ****(*). From 2013 there is a 900 bottle cuvée from their 1987-88 Syrah on Lancement, the Blonde sector. The first vintage was very good; the wine is more expensive [€107 in 2016] than Les Rochins. It fared less well in the drought of 2017: **** wine; in 2018 it was ****(*). The Triotes is the blended Blonde wine from four sources, and in 2018 is good VALUE ****(*) wine. The La Sybarine is the go-go Côte-Rôtie, bottled after a year, sold a lot locally, notably Lyon. It accentuates fruit foremost, but in 2018 held the structure to live for around 20 years, **** wine.
A lot of vineyard planting and work happened as the first stage, and was followed by a new vinification cellar, on which Jean-François did the carpentry. The boys have cut cask ageing from 24 to 18 months, and shaved about 10% off the new oak quota, also using casks beyond three years’ old.
There is now 0.92 hectare on the schist at Seyssuel, near Vienne, across the River; its first vintage was 2018, with a very satisfactory **** wine that was calm, serene, singing. There is also 0.55 hectare of Saint-Joseph recently planted at Saint Pierre de Boeuf. A merchant range called Famille Garon started with the 2017 vintage, including a Condrieu and a Côtes du Rhône. The whites - Condrieu and Viognier IGP - are raised for a year, malos completed, the raising considered to help them gain aromatic expression.
Domaine vineyards now mostly rented out to Stéphane Otheguy, who worked with him before Commitment to organic and natural methods in vineyard and cellar Top wines held good fruit clarity
LVT 2017 r 2016 wh This domaine gives a prime example of traditional, whole bunch fermentation Côte-Rôtie. The wines are very consistent. Du Plessy is more aromatic, the Côte Brune has good muscle and breeding, and ages well. The Le Combard Côte-Rôtie, from the southern sector, fits in between. Started in 2007, it was joined in 2013 by a derivative from the centre of Combard called Côte-Rôtie Coeur de Combard, a 2,000 bottle issue that impressed me with its pedigree and complexity in 2017, when it was a ****(*) wine.
The Côte Blonde, introduced in 2013, has been a ****(*) wine when made in 2013, 2015 and 2016. The Condrieu and Saint-Joseph contain good fruit. A tasting of 2007, 2004 and 1996 Saint-Joseph red in May 2013 revealed that the wine stays well, especially in the higher acidity years. Son Julien is interested in the whites, and they have gained freshness and better balance as a result. He has lowered their dosage of SO2, and is working with more detail in the vineyard and less intervention in the cellar.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh Graeme Bott is a New Zealander who came to the Northern Rhône in 2010. Back home he had done wine studies, and worked at Hawkes Bay when he was 17, in the mid-2000s. The next hot variety at Hawkes Bay at the time was Syrah, so that became his focus, drawing him to the Holy Grail, Côte-Rôtie. An old cellar master of Stéphane Montez gave him two addresses there – Montez and Stéphane Ogier, the latter whom he joined, working six months a year there, and six months a year with Tim Kirk of Clonakilla, another skilled Rhône varietal enthusiast and practitioner.
After three years of split tasks, he joined Ogier full-time as cellar master, having met his wife to be Julie there. They created their company in 2015, just after the first purchase of brush land, a smidgin, at Condrieu. This is now 0.35 hectare on L’Alleau, in the heart of the old part of the Condrieu appellation. The first vintages were all made with purchased harvest – 2016 3,000 bottles, 2017 6,000 bottles. From 2018 they have used own vineyard harvest, from Seyssuel notably. They also own 0.16 ha of 1989-93 Syrah at Sémons, and are planting on 0.24 hectare on the top site of Lancement. The aim is to arrive at 10 hectares over time. Vintages 2016-2018 were vinified in garages, and from 2019 the Botts have rented the ex-Didier Côte building with much more space at the northern exit of Ampuis.
Elegance is favoured, which means that the whites are crisp, on the steel, the Condrieu made in that style, which for me, reguires a little more gras, maybe a day or two more on the vine. Alternatively, one can set it aside for three years. The reds are promising, with the Syrah Vin de France First Flight a ***(*), w.o.w. wine and first tasting of the Seyssuel 2018 (not on commercial release) also lively, and racy – good signs, thus. The Côte-Rôtie has a clean-winded style, the St Jo red also crisp and willing in 2018, when it was a **** wine.
Looking to their own vineyards, Julie has been learning to work with a horse, with attention to the soils a natural result of that.
The couple are media savvy, and more will be heard from the Botts in a rush.
LVT 2017 r 2013 wh A domaine in the southern zone, where, after improvement in the early 2000s, some of the elegance seems to have gone walkabout in the 2012-2014, 2017 vintages. Exports are down, and having had up to three sources in GB, now there are none. Since 2006 there have been two new wines, derived from the old Vieilles Vignes wine that was elegant and structured, not a big hitter; living well over 12-15 years. One is pure southern zone, Bassenon, where the wines are soft and scented, the other is northern zone schist, the Côte Rozier, with more snap and mystery about it.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh Wow, zap. Hot streak here! A core Côte-Rôtie domaine, family-run, with a good, whole-hearted style of wine. The unpretentious classic rises to heights in the top years like 1998, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013. The Côte Brune is one of the best Côte-Rôties, a suitable legacy for the hard work of Joseph Jamet, who bought what was a tired vineyard in 1948. The advice is to leave the Côte-Rôties for at least eight years - they live for up to 30 years. There is also a really good Syrah vin de pays as well and a red Côtes du Rhône that can be way above its station in years such as 2010 to 2013, and 2015 and 2016 [both ****]. In 2015 the Jamets introduced a superior Côtes du Rhône called Equivoque from two plots next to their Côte-Rôtie Syrah on Cognet and Tartaras: this is super dooper, a real rocker with much character.
In 2015 son Loïc planted 0.46 hectare with massale Syrah on Cumelle at Côte-Rôtie. After the separation from Jean-Paul's brother Jean-Luc, the labels now read Corinne, Jean-Paul & Loïc Jamet as the producers. The Condrieu – first vintage 2015 - is very much Loïc’s baby; the plot was bought Christmas 2014, and has been supplemented with a patch of newly planted Vernon Viognier. It is now raised mostly in 500-litre amphorae, the rest in oak.
LVT 2019 r 2018 wh A domaine whose wines, from 11 plots, hold great refinement and a clear fruit - I have always considered their style to be Burgundian. It is a Côte-Rôtie with 5% Viognier, by the way. The wines regained some depth and complexity with the 2007 vintage – a very welcome event after a quiet stretch. Patrick has said he is allowing the malos to take their time (ie not heating the cellar) and there is greater body now, also helped by a slightly longer vinification time at a restrained maximum temperature. He abandoned the immerged cap process after 2009 - it had been done for four generations, and now favours pumping overs with some light cap punching. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, these wines were not made to live for a very long time - Patrick being keen to drink them inside 10 years. This has been changing recently, and the wines have more solid structure than in that period, and benefit from patience once more. Patrick receives advice from Jean-Baptiste Souillard, ex Colombo oenology cabinet, whose small merchant business favours a stripped back, taut style.
In 2015, a new wine was introduced, a "top of the range" production called Oléa (a jasmin flower). It receives more new oak and a longer raising [10 months' more] than the classic, which is now called La Giroflarie (an old name for the Côte Baudin). Top years here can live towards 25+ years or so. There is always a cracking vin de pays Syrah, La Chevalière, from 1.5 hectares of both plain and high vineyards. It is now issued every year (the 2014 and 2016 both w.o.w. wines), and, from 2015, a correct Viognier vin de pays as well.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh There has been steady progress at this domaine, which has a modernistic leaning. At last the boys [Christophe pictured] have woken up to their overuse of new oak, and have cut that back, and increased their cask size to 400 litres and 600 litres across the board. Most of the vineyards are on the schist, mica schist soils of the north of the appellation, notably the two lieu-dit wines, Les Rochains and Côte Rozier. The classic wine Colline de Couzou is aided by around 20+% of soft Syrah from the sanded granite of the southern sector at Tupin and Coteaux de Semons: its emphasis is on likeable fruit, and relative ease of access.
Les Rochains is becoming a wine of genuine stature; its oldest Syrah is 1955, and its pretty full South facing vineyard means that it is powerful in the hot vintages such as 2018 and 2019. The sparky Côte Rozier with a cooler S-E face and breezed by the North Wind, is masculine and solid in hot years, with the 2020 more in keeping with its place, being neatly textured and fine in a Nordic way. Since the late 2010s, more stems have been included, as well, up to 50% now, so that is another source of freshness.
Cellaring of five years helps the oak to infuse, and brings out increased complexity in the wines. The Condrieu, with its Viognier (late 1980s) growing up on the very good, South facing vineyard of Côte Châtillon in the commune of Condrieu, is now a good, regular performer, and a Viognier IGP from massale cuttings in Savoie has been a good recent addition.
The boys were joined by Christophe's daughter Léa in 2019, and she has made her own wine starting in that year, called Côte-Rôtie Léa Bonnefond Dans les Vignes de mon Père. 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier, it is taken from Les Rochains, and is vinified at very low temperatures, mostly 16°-18°C, ending briefly at 25°C, in a concerted quest for a fine, fresh wine. Both the 2019 and 2020 were **** wines, the former joli, floral, the latter serious, with a classic structure.
LVT 2005 r wh Richard Desbordes is a returnee who left his job with Citroën in 2002 to come back and work the family vineyard. The family used to cultivate cereals and make cheese and milk, but the demands on laboratory conditions for the cheese drove his father away from working the land. He makes very good wines, albeit in limited quantities. Only wild yeasts are used, and care is taken in the cellar. The 2005 Côte-Rôtie showed good STGT signs.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh One of the top domaines at Côte-Rôtie. René Rostaing married the daughter of Albert Dervieux, long-time doyen of the vineyards in the central zones, the top table. From his wife, there was also some ex Marius Gentaz-Dervieux vineyard involved.
These are clean, clear-fruited, initially tight wines with some oak influence - the emphasis is on elegance, and patient cellaring. The 2010s were supreme. From 2015 son Pierre (pictured) has been making the wine. He is setting about expanding the plot-specific range, having introduced a wine from Verenay, the Viallière, as well as a Côte Brune - the replanted vineyard of Marius Gentaz-Dervieux, which started in 2013. The top Côte-Rôtie is the Côte Blonde, a wine whose beauty comes through after decades rather than years. It is from a subset of the Blonde called La Garde and involves 1950s, 1970-72 and 1980 Syrah, 3-4% Viognier.
There is an enjoyable Condrieu La Bonnette (1987 Viognier, only steel vat handling), also clear-cut, and excellent Viognier called Les Lézardes, the latter from very old vines  on Sainte Agathe, where the Vernays also have vineyards, just outside the Condrieu appellation. Both have gained cut and clarity with Pierre lowering the use of SO2 in them. The Syrah IGP des Collines Rhodaniennes Les Lézardes comes in small quantities; the **** 2018 Syrah approached Côte-Rôtie in standing.
LVT 2019 r 2019 wh This is a name to watch. Stéphane is in his thirties, a relative newcomer, who made his first wine in 2000. His grandfather, but not his father, worked the family farm, his father selling the crop to merchants. In 2007, 60-70% of his production is to be bottled. He has started to export, as well. He has some striking, fun labels. Stéphane's wife's family make a solid quality Côtes de Castillon (70% Merlot) from the 9 hectare Château Fillol.
There is a pleasing clarity in his wines, with some STGT leanings, and they reflect their northern sector schist well. He has cut back on the use of new oak for his main wine, Le Champon's, a good move. A pneumatic press has been used from 2012 – Stéphane is pleased with results from that. Since the early 2010s, soils have been worked, while Stéphane moved to whole bunch fermentation on his top class Les Grandes Places (67% 1936 Serine) in 2015, with 35-50% whole bunch in 2013 and 2014, and since 2011 a reduction in its cask ageing from 36 to 24 months: all good moves. Les Grandes Places, albeit only 2,000 bottles, is a true standard bearer, reflecting its origins very well, the 2018 ****(*) and the 2019 ***** wine. Stéphane also makes a Côte-Rôtie called Löss, which is 5-10% Viognier, intended for early drinking. The 2019 was bang on the money in that regard, a Rock n'Roll, expressive **** wine. I am a fan of his Vin de Pays Syrah, which is well structured, genuine wine that ages well.
In 2018 Stéphane made a fine de Côte-Rôtie, distilled from the lees, the only one in the appellation. It receives three years in new oak. The 2019 was ahead of the 2018.
LVT 2020 wh 2019 r 2020 rosé A world famous winery. Marcel Guigal is the hardest working man I have ever met, and all expansion achieved has been through that amazing work ethic, and inner tenacity. He has always followed a new oak, long ageing route for the red wines. The Guigal reds are always sumptuous and full, and live well. The most elegant of the Côte-Rôtie La Las is La Mouline, with the Landonne often the champion of the Big Three in a given vintage. The Côte-Rôtie Château d'Ampuis is always good quality, and can be better value than the La Las, which attract speculation. There is a very rich style of Condrieu. The Guigals have been upping the quality at Hermitage, helped by the purchase of vineyards.
There is very reliable quality in the large production wines like the southern Rhône Côtes du Rhône - the 2014 red was an absolutely excellent ****(*) wine, remarkable given it is more than 2 million bottles' worth. In July 2017 came the purchase of the 53 hectare Domaine de Nalys - since renamed Château de Nalys - which possesses some of the best terroirs at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, from the Groupama Insurance company.
born 1925, a stalwart who first bottled in 1967 has reduced to a small vineyard to keep his eye in traditional, delightful and honest wines, sold to locals
LVT 2012 r Long-established local family. Combine wine with dairy and cheese making. They have a herd of 25 milking Holsteins for their cheese production, and another 25 younger cows. Jean-Michel specialised in milk more than wine, while his son Johann started with the 2004 harvest, is now in his thirties, and studied wine at Davayé in the Mâconnais. Equipment such as a new vat in 2012 has been introduced, and quality is on the rise.
LVT 2017 r 2019 wh A 7 hectare domaine at the northern extremity of the appellation, with the schist presence giving the wines a steady tannic presence. They are slow-burn, upright in style, and need a little time to loosen, and round out the later stages of the palate. The Vernays have old vineyards, and potential exists to bring in more stylish wines. Their fruit interests are decreasing under the impulse of Mâcon Wine School-educated daughter Gisèle. They are aiming to bottle more, and sell less in bulk. The Vernays are not related to Georges Vernay of Condrieu fame.
One of my inspirations; hand made wines, as straight as a dye in their truth, a tiny cellar that evoked the poems of Lermontov, and fruit from the fabulous Côte Brune. Supreme artisan work. His last vintage was 1993, but the purple years were the 1980s. Marius's three favourite vintages of that decade, in order, were 1989, 1985 and 1988. Yvonne would handle the corks, and together they would take a day to bottle one of the casks at a time.
Advised by Stéphane Ogier, the best wine chosen for bottling - is usually a lot from La Viallière. Modern cellar methods and techniques used.
LVT 2018 r 2016 rosé 2018 wh Guillaume is the son of Brigitte Roch and Gilbert Clusel, and has started to make his own range of organic wines, with an emphasis on good drinking. His Saint-Joseph red, first wine 2014, was a **** w.o.w. wine in 2015. From west of Lyon, there are now five wines from the often granite soils of the Côteaux du Lyonnais, two red Gamays, one rosé Gamay, and two Chardonnays. Both the 2015, 2017 and 2018 Coteaux du Lyonnais Traboules Gamay reds were all w.o.w. wines, which is some achievement. 2018 was badly hit by hail, and 2019 by frost, so non organic harvest had to supplement the reds, while there was no white in either vintage.
LVT 2017 r 2017 wh Hervé Avallet worked in IT until 2007, when, at the age of 38, he decided on a complete change of career. He was a wine lover who would buy the local wines, and went off to study vineyards and winemaking at Mâcon, with stints at Les Vins de Vienne. He started planting in 2007, and made his first wine in 2008 from a mid-1980s vineyard at Côte-Rôtie. in 2009, when he was 40 years’ old. His wife Nathalie was a nurse.
There are 9 hectares – four of them at Seyssuel, 2.5 ha at Côte-Rôtie. Hervé plants a little each year. 300 bottles were produced in 2009, and now there are over 20,000 bottles. 40-45% of the harvest is sold to the merchant trade. The Côte-Rôtie Osa is the only wine made from vines that Hervé hasn’t planted – mid-1980s Syrah from the schist of St Cyr sur Rhône. This was an authentic, nicely filled **** wine in 2017. From 2017 there have been two Côte-Rôties, the second receiving 24 months of cask raising.
The style is for easy drinking, unfussy wines that are on precision over power, the tannins nicely granular. This is an address to note for the future, with its Seyssuel wines very much true to their place – the 2017 Pulchra Terra red a ***(*) STGT wine. There is a collection of one-off, single cask Seyssuels with the Convivium title followed by a Roman numeral, in red and white Seyssuel.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh 2018 rosé La Chatillonne is one of the great Côte-Rôties, combining Rhône depth with a floral, floating elegance. The rest of the line-up, for many years been composed of worthy merchant wines, is getting a right old shake-up, and improved quickly from the 2008 vintage onwards. Vidal-Fleury has been owned by Guigal for some time now, and from 2008, the Big Push was for a series of more fruited, fresher wines raised in their state of the art premises at the southern end of the Côte-Rôtie vineyards. This will allow just one bottling run for some of the large volume wines such as the Crozes red and the Côtes du Rhône red. It will also allow more precise wood ageing – the duration in the old large barrels has come down – thankfully – and younger, smaller casks have been introduced.
In the North, progress was noted with the 2016 Saint-Joseph red, which was a **** w.o.w. wine. The 2018 Saint-Joseph white was a good **** wine, rich, well made, with a nice style, the 2020 Crozes blanc a **** wine with commendable purity. A recent introduction has been a Saint-Péray.
In the South, one immediate result of this was the improved 2016 Gigondas red, a modern, easy to drink **** wine, bottled before the autumn of 2017, while the 2017 was also a **** gourmand style of wine. The Ventoux red is a good performer at a sound price level, and note the Vacqueyras red as well.
LVT 2020 r 2019 wh This is a modern domaine, that has always leaned towards new oak use: from the late 2010s, that started to halve in many cases, a good thing. The best wines absorb the oak over time and are stylish, gaining a sense of place as they go. With the more prominent roles of Jean-Michel's two sons, there is a leaning towards greater immediate elegance, and less obvious oaking.
The top Côte-Rôtie, Les Grandes Places, made from 1920s, 1966 and 1985 Syrah on the schist of the northern zone, is the ace card, the 2016 a ***** STGT wine, the 2015 a marvellous ****** wine, both the silken 2019 and the intense, prolonged 2020 *****, capturing the firm depth of its vineyard. The Côte-Rôtie La Viallière also very correctly captures the florality of that site, the decision to raise it in 500-litre casks (not 228-litre) a good one.
The Côte-Rôtie vineyards were expanded by 2 hectares from 2020, vineyards previously worked by Domaine Gilles Barge and his son Julien, including their mighty Côte Brune. These belong to Jean-Pierre Barge, the youngest brother of Gilles, who separated from his nephew Julien Barge, and allocated the harvest to his brother-in-law Jean-Michel Gérin. There is about 1 hectare of Côte Brune, 1 hectare of Boucharey and Grand Taillis, the last two’s harvest going into Champin le Seigneur, the blended cuvée. The Gérin Côte-Rôtie vineyards under their care therefore now amount to 13.5 hectares. The 2020 Côte Brune, when tasted in cask, was a tremendous ****** wine.
There are two Condrieus, La Loye, and Les Eguets, the latter from young vines and more expensive. The Saint-Joseph red is correct, while there are two sound Vin de France wines, a Viognier and a Syrah.
LVT 2019 r 2008 wh Archetype of the grower who is outside the loop: Jean-Michel tries to be organic at every turn - vineyard and cellar. Hence very low to zero sulphur use, and as a follower of Jules Chauvet from the Beaujolais, ferments some of his wines with carbonic maceration. When on the button, the wines carry excellent fruit; they benefit from decanting. They are expensive, but full of interest. These come from mainly southern sector sources, so there is an intrinsic elegance about them. The cool vintage 2013 Coteaux de Tupin was STGT wine, costing €75 - with its stones and quartz, it's a vineyard that soaks up heat in the hot, dry summers, so comes to the fore in a vintage such as the late ripening 2016, as well as 2019 - both ***** wines. The Vieilles Vignes en Coteau has been made, and is very good, in 2015 - the first vintage since another very good 2011.
From 2015 there is also a small cuvée from the mica-schist soils of Verenay in the northern sector, called La So'Brune, unusual in holding up to 20% Viognier, unheard of on the Brune. Jean-Michel also grows organic apricots. He used to make a good Condrieu which ceased after 2008 when the vineyard could no longer be borrowed. His son Romain, born November 1997, has done wine studies at Belleville.
LVT 2017 wh 2017 r Sound, small parcel Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie, the latter expensive enough, with the 2015 a **** wine, pre-bottling, raised for two years in new 400-litre oak casks. The Condrieu, after two indifferent vintages, got going in 2017, and the future is promising on that basis, as Antoon learns his craft. There is also a low production, overtly oaked Saint-Joseph red, and a rich, full table wine Crozes-Hermitage blanc, about half and half Marsanne and Roussanne from two good sites at Larnage and Mercurol.
LVT 2017 r 2017 wh Unpretentious wines, no jazzy modernism, quality on the rise, a name to note. The style is tight, compact. The Côte Rozier is serious wine, on the improve, while the Prélude (called JYL until 2015) has also stepped up a gear. In 2017 the Lafoys split out the 1934 Syrah on Côte Blonde (wine used to go into the Côte Rozier) to make a wine of that name. The presence of son Gaëtan, formally trained at Wine School in Mâcon, with a few months at the Plumpton College in Sussex near my home and work experience chez Jean-Michel Gérin, along with a commercial stint at the Boutellerie wine shop in Condrieu, has added good momentum. The Condrieu demi-sec, for drinking at Christmas time, has been replaced as vines have grown up by a good dry version, Aux Ruses, from Saint-Michel, the 2015 and 2016 both **** wines.
The father of Joseph Duplessy. Prime site on the lower reaches of the Côte Brune.
LVT 2010 r A 1 hectare domaine. The wine is sold at the Hotel des Vignes near Guigal. Two brothers are involved. There is an excess of oak, but the core of the wine is sound.
LVT 2017 r 2017 wh The early thrust from this négociant business was to accentuate wines with overt new oak presence. The oak factor has eased slightly recently - good, and quality has risen by the mid to late 2010s. There is now a drive towards naming wines after the specific lieu-dit in question, rather than branding them, which is another good sign.
I was impressed by the style in several of their 2016 reds, for instance, with flair on the agenda on a few occasions. Côte-Rôtie Les Grandes Places was a genuine **** STGT wine in 2016, for example, and both the 2016 Saint-Joseph Amphore d'Argent and L'Arzelle were ****(*) wines. The style on the reds is now for modern, less extracted wines than before, which offer more enjoyable, less obstacle strewn, drinking. Perhaps the best example of this is Crozes-Hermitage Les Palignons red, a w.o.w. wine in 2012 and 2013, while the 2015 Hermitage Les Chirats de Saint Christophe red was a ***** wine with flair.
The Seyssuel wines, Taburnum and Sotanum, are laden with soaked fruits and are interesting, if expensive. The Condrieu leans towards the new school of lightweight wines, but the 2015 Saint-Joseph L'Élouède white was a full ****(*) wine. Among the other whites, a good name is the Maison Blanche Crozes-Hermitage, formerly called Les Archevêques, a wine of real stature, next to the site of the same name at Hermitage, the 2017 a ****(*) wine. Another good addition is the very drinkable Côtes du Rhône Les Cranilles red, a combination of northern and southern sources, and a Crozes-Hermitage red from Mercurol, Les Grappiats, the 2015 a **** wine when tasted from cask.
LVT 1969 r A rather sleepy family firm with vineyards in Côte-Rôtie notably, also Crozes-Hermitage, and a little in Hermitage and Saint-Joseph. There was also a merchant business. The style was for soft, aromatic wines that occasionally hit the mark. There was always a feeling of distance in Louis’ commitment towards his wines, that it was a job to do, the heritage of his father, with him slightly going through the motions. Guigal bought most of the vineyards when it was time to sell up.
LVT 2012 wh 2016 r True, terroir expressive wines, in the mould of their maker, who is not fussed if the outside world struggles to contact him. Pierre has reduced his Condrieu holding to just 0.2 hectare, preferring to invest in Côte-Rôtie since 2013, the southern sector, where he now works 1.5 hectares, with more to come as he clears and plants at Tupin. His Dolium is from 0.08 hectare on the Côte Brune. Whole bunch fermentations here make him the darling of some hipsters.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh Sadly the founder of the domaine in 1990, Louis Clerc, died in April, 2007. This is a traditional domaine, and now his son Martin, born in 1991, is running the domaine under his own name, with progress being made. The crop was sold to merchants until 2003. Martin's first vinification was 2013; he did his studies at Beaune in 2015, spent a few months in Australia, and at domaines in Burgundy. He started on his own, with the name changed from Domaine Louis Clerc to Domaine Martin Clerc in August, 2018.
In 2016 he started to vinify on a plot by plot basis, launching two new Côte-Rôties, Collet (younger vines, fruit), and Coteaux de Tupin (older vines, more serious, longer-lived) in 2016. There are some STGT characteristics: these are warmly textured, southern sector wines that were a little light in the past. I was delighted to taste the **** 2016 Côte-Rôtie that was tasty and natural. There was good, traditional, honest Condrieu in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 - much improved. He also launched two new Condrieus in 2017 - La Roncharde from Condrieu and Côte Bellay from Malleval. Jean-Michel Stéphan, hard core, talented natural methods grower, is his father’s nephew. Jean-Paul Brun of Beaujolais fame is giving Martin advice.
LVT 2020 r 2020 wh This is an address in which I have complete confidence. One of the judging yardsticks is the quality of a domaine's entry level wine, which can often be denuded by the creation of plot-specific cuvées. This ie empatically not the case here, with the Elotins cuvée, up to 8,000 bottles, often between **** and ****(*), making it a good value buy.
The La Brocarde, the first vineyard Christophe planted in 1981 from the Brune sector, is accomplished, and is very site-specific in nature, nourished with iron even in a hot year such as 2018, when it was a ***** wine. The classic, Les Élotins, has been improving lately, and there are very sound vins de pays now on offer. 2015 saw the first vintage of La Côte Rozier, a very tight wine that used to go into Les Élotins, oldest vines dating from the 1940s; it was a really true STGT ****(*) wine in 2016 when tasted from cask, and a delightful, refined ***** wine in 2017 when also tasted from cask, and once more reverted to STGT in 2018, ****(*), all an achievement given the hot sun.
In 2019 Christophe rented a 0.6 hectare plot on the schist of La Viallière, Syrah planted in 2008 and 2012. In 2020 he organised a Group to buy this plot, and launched the best of this as its own 2,000 bottle wine in 2020 [the rest going into Les Elotins]; it is a true, fragrant **** wine.
A Condrieu was introduced in 2012, the fruit of 0.5 hectare of vines planted in 2007. Until the end of 2007, Christophe Billon doubled up with work in the Guigal vineyard. He is gradually expanding his own vineyards. Fresh from studies at Belleville, son Corentin joined the estate in 2015.
LVT 2015 r Nicolas’ father Gérard was chef of vineyard culture at Guigal for 15 years, having started at de Vallouit, working their Côte-Rôtie vineyards. Nicolas is tending the family’s fourth generation vineyards. Apart from four casks for family consumption, the rest of the crop was sold to Guigal. Nicolas worked on the vines in his holidays, his job being an electrician working on high wires after snow and wind damage. His uncle André died after a long illness, with his daughter not interested in taking over, which is what led Nicolas to “have a go” in 2014, “the summer when it rained 200 mm (8 inches) in the summer”. From November 2016, a new cellar is being built. His wife Oriane works at Les Vins de Vienne.
The Côte-Rôties come from Les Grandes Places, and both they and the Vin de Pays are good, authentic wines.
LVT 2019 r 2020 wh A highly progressive domaine, in the hands of enthusiastic, switched-on Stéphane Ogier. Plots are vinified separately. Cellar techniques have been active, but are being eased back, with less obvious oaking. Stéphane opened a spiffing new cellar complex on the road south of Ampuis in December 2015, and now has much more space. The best wines, eg Belle Hélène, which is from Côte Rozier, have richness to handle the oak. The Côte-Rôtie range was added to in 2015 with a Côte Blonde and a La Viallière. The main wines are very expensive.
In 2010 he introduced a set of site-specific Côte-Rôties; there are between five (2017), six (2012, 2013, 2016), seven (2015) and nine (2018) of them, sold in a five to nine bottle wooden presentation case: Berthelon, Cognet, Le Champon, Côte Bodin, Montmain, Fongeant, Leyat, Cognet, But de Mont, La Viallière. They were not produced in 2011 and 2014, and the Fongeant did not feature in the 2010 range. They are a mixed bag in reality, some a way ahead of the others, notably Montmain, which is often ****(*). Others, such as Cognet can be better in a blend, in my view.
There are sound mini-négociant wines, including a Saint-Joseph red and a Côtes du Rhône red Le Temps est Venu from the Plan de Dieu area. The Syrah and Viognier vins de pays La Rosine are both good, as is his Seyssuel, which was a **** wine in 2016. The wines are now from Stéphane Ogier rather than the M & S Ogier d'Ampuis title used since around 2003 to distinguish them from the merchant Ogier at Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
LVT 2007 r 2006 wh Stéphane Othéguy used to work at Domaine Gasse-Lafoy, with Vincent Gasse. Since 2004, when Vincent retired, he took over the rental of his vineyards. He is fully committed to organic methods, both in the vineyards and the cellar. There is also organic fruit juice, mainly apple, with apricot, pear and figs also from his own trees beside the Rhône. Low sulphur use means that the reds can be reductive or stinky on first opening. They are infused with clear, quite expressive red fruits. Decanting or double decanting of them is recommended.
Mainly southern sector origins. Modern cellar methods. The vineyards were sold off after Thierry's tragic death. Some Condrieu went to Domaine Georges Vernay.
LVT 2018 r 2018 wh 2016 rosé The domaine was created in 2013, when brothers Jean-Luc and Jean-Paul Jamet went their separate ways. 75% of the 2013 wine was sold in bulk; thereafter, the bulk has fallen to 50% in 2014, 25% in 2015, and zero from 2016 onwards. There are five hectares of Côte-Rôtie, two of Côtes-du-Rhône, and one hectare of Vin de Pays. Given that Jean-Luc was charged with looking after the vineyard under the old, united family domaine, I have been agreeably impressed by the wines, which have got going since their debut. The Côte-Rôtie, called Terrasses, was ***** wine in 2015, ****(*) in 2016 and **** in 2017. The Côtes du Rhône Hautes Vignes red was **** in both 2015 and 2016; it is now called L'Enclave
LVT 2019 r 2020 wh An STGT domaine. The outlook is traditional, with a hands-off style in the cellar exercised by the unassuming Levets. Vineyards could be more naturally worked. The winemaking is geared towards old-style depth, and earthy flavours. La Péroline, known in USA by its actual plot name of Chavaroche, is excellent, nad carries the best tannins of the three Côte-Rôties.
I have the impression that the maximum temperature of fermentation has come down from being allowed to go 32°C to a steady 29°C, which has helped the quality of the fruit recently. With the hot vintages of the late 2010s, more stems are being included. The wines take time to come together, but are very rewarding, and always offer classic floral touches. I find a very coherent progression starting with the Améthyste and going up to to La Péroline aka Chavaroche, via Maestria (Les Journaries in USA) en route.
The arrival of daughter Agnès has also represented a good extra impetus for the future. From 2019, there has been a 1,500 bottle Condrieu, the result of a vineyard exchange with Domaine Richard at Chavanay - the 1990s La Maraze vineyard at St Michel-sur-Rhône. Its style is traditional, the 2020 superior to the 2019.
The family also hand make an excellent, thorough tasting apricot juice from their Bergeron apricots across the River on the plateau in the Isère. Nicole Levet, Bernard's wife, a Chambeyron, very sadly died of cancer in 2014.
2018 r 2019 wh A domaine on the march under son Xavier, wine school trained and well travelled, whose first complete vintage was 2013. He took over full time from December 2012, as father Francois retired from working two days a week at the Crédit Agricole, having been a part-time vigneron. The regular Condrieu from Marmouzin used to be sold in bulk to Jaboulet, but was launched on its own in 2013, alongside the Condrieu Côte Châtillon, which was a **** STGT wine in 2016, nice and muscular., and also STGT in 2018, when it was much refined, a ****(*) wine. From 2015 the Condrieu comes from Marmouzin and Corbery, a total of 0.5 hectare, and is called L'Arbuel.
From 2013 there has also been a good La Landonne Côte-Rôtie (2013 and a ***** 2015), while the Saint-Joseph red from La Blanchard, a vineyard rented from the late, lamented Gérard Villano and his family, wins marks for purity and clarity. The Viognier IGP is always a very good performer that lives a little, while there is a good Vin de France Gamay from early to mid-1980s vines at 350 metres at Givors.
From August 2019, Xavier has worked in a spacious new cellar beside the N86 just south of the Condrieu centre, which allows him to work with gravity, rather than pumping the wines. There will also be a wine shop, a caveau.