René Rostaing has made a life’s work of defending the idea that Côte Rôtie should taste like Côte Rôtie, not like Hermitage, and certainly not like new world Syrah.
In fact, he is nothing less than a beacon for those we’ve called the region’s “Classicists”—vignerons whose philosophies incorporate some new ideas while capturing the best of the region’s traditions—to make wines of purity and expression that are the essence of their region, village and vineyard.
A grower since 1971, his first vineyard purchases were a microscopic half acre each in Côte Blonde and in La Landonne on the Côte Brune. The real breakthrough came when his father-in-law, Albert Dervieux-Thaize, retired in 1990, followed by his uncle Marius Gentaz three years later. Between these two legendary growers, Rostaing acquired over ten acres of very old vines in some of the appellation’s top sites.
Today, Rostaing can boast 20+ acres of the finest vineyards in and around Côte Rôtie. The wealth of vineyard holdings results in an astonishing array of wines. From several parcels of old vines immediately adjoining Côte Rôtie and Condrieu, Rostaing produces a gorgeous non-appellation white and red called Les Lezardes.
In Condrieu, he holds a tiny parcel in Côte Bonnette that yields some of the region’s most refined Viognier. Most of his Côte Rôtie parcels are blended to produce the Cuvée Ampodium (formerly known as Classique), a superb expression of the appellation. And, of course, there are his two prized Côte Rôtie special cuvées, La Landonne and Côte Blonde.
Rostaing’s winemaking is deeply rooted in tradition while incorporating new thinking, always with a view to making wine of expression—in other words, wines that could come from nowhere else but Côte Rôtie.
In the cellar, he employs rotofermenters, but only so he can break up the must himself, not to shorten macerations. He uses 15–25% new wood on his Côte Rôties, but detests obviously oaky wines. He prizes mature fruit, but rails against some of his neighbor’s much riper wines. In other words, this is the best of classic Côte Rôtie—brought into the modern age, but true to its origins.
And, as fine as Rostaing’s Côte Rôties have always been, the last half dozen vintages have seen them become even better. Where in the past they were stubbornly backward upon release, needing several years to open, today they are gloriously expressive early while sacrificing none of their long aging potential.
In the late 1990s, René and his wife purchased a property in the Côteaux du Languedoc near Nîmes. The estate, originally named Puech Chaud, is now known as Puech Noble. Located in a relatively cool microclimate, Puech Noble gave René a chance to produce Syrah on the limestone soils so beloved by many French growers. Bolstered with small amounts of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Rolle, Puech Noble is now producing one of the South’s most beautiful wines. The terroir yields a slight garrique character—the only clue you have that this isn’t Northern Rhône wine of the highest order. It may be the best example yet of the Rostaings’ ethic: elegant, yet concentrated; expressive, but subtle; hedonistic, but cerebral.
Côte Rôtie: A Milestone Offer
During the next few weeks, we’re paying tribute to Côte Rôtie with a series of articles on its incredible history, along with unprecedented offers of those vignerons we consider essential to understanding Côte Rôtie’s greatness—from Marius Gentaz and Emile Champet to Gilles Barge and Jean-Paul Jamet.
|2015||2015 René Rostaing Condrieu La Bonnette||VM93||12||$79.95||add|
|1991||1991 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium||2||$175.00||add|
|1998||1998 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium||RP90-92||1||$110.00||add|
|2001||2001 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium||RP||6||$89.95||add|
|2004||2004 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium||JR||12||$79.95||add|
|2010||2010 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium 1.5 L||1.5 L||RP94||12||$159.95||add|
|2011||2011 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium||JG93||12||$75.00||add|
|2011||2011 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium 1.5 L||1.5 L||JG93||6||$149.95||add|
|2012||2012 René Rostaing Cote-Rotie Ampodium||JR92||12||$79.95||add|
|2015||2015 René Rostaing Viognier Les Lezardes||12+||$34.95||add|
|2014||2014 René Rostaing Le Vassal Rouge||12+||$24.95||add|
|2014||2014 René Rostaing Puech Noble Blanc||12+||$22.95||add|
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