As of 2015, René Rostaing had made 44 vintages of Côte Rôtie. And it was time to turn the domaine over to his son Pierre, who had been working alongside him for years.
He could not have chosen a better year to do it. In René’s words, 2015 was a “grande année.” Marcel Guigal (with more vintages under his belt than anyone else in Côte Rôtie) says he’s never seen a year like it. For Pierre Rostaing, it was, in short, the chance to make legendary wines his first time out.
And so he did. Though the reviews are only starting to come out, the die is already cast. John Livingstone-Learmonth has given Côte Blonde his highest rating (6 stars) and La Landonne 5 stars. Josh Raynolds’ potential rating for Côte Blonde while still in barrel was a lofty 95-97 points, with Landonne very close at 94-96.
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Born of Giants
Pierre’s birthright as a Côte Rôtie traditionalist may have no peer in the modern era. Not only is he the son of René Rostaing, his grandfather and great uncle were Albert Dervieux and Marius Gentaz, respectively.
The lineage is clear: there’s a direct connection between Pierre’s 2015 Côte Blonde and La Landonne and the Côte Rôties of Dervieux and Gentaz. Just like his ancestor’s wines—and that includes the wines of his father—Pierre’s 2015s are brilliant examples of purity and expression of terroir.
In the case of Côte Blonde, there is surreal intensity without heaviness, a quality that calls to mind the Côte de Nuits’ finest grands crus. In fact, his father once told John Livingstone-Learmonth that he regards the Côte Blonde lieu-dit as “the Chambertin of Côte Rôtie.”
As for La Landonne, it is a wine of greater power and longevity, owning to its location in the northern part of Côte Rôtie that’s often referred to as the Côte Brune.
While Pierre will, over time, make further refinements, his 2015s are very much in the mode developed by his iconic father. Having worked alongside René for many years, he’s thoroughly steeped in his philosophy and methods.
It’s an approach derived not only from Pierre’s father, grandfather and great-uncle, but also from an even earlier generation: his great-grandfather Jean-Marie Buffens, who planted the family’s Côte Blonde plot in 1934.
But Pierre’s most profound influence was his father René, who over nearly a half century made Côte Rôties that—with a high proportion of whole clusters and very little new wood—express both site and variety with majestic clarity.
In recent decades, no one in Côte Rôtie made wines of greater purity and expression of terroir than René Rostaing. That Pierre is not only upholding, but enhancing, this legacy is great news for anyone who prizes red wine of transcendent nuance and texture, as well as an immutable sense of place.
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2015 Côte Rôtie Côte Blonde
Josh Raynolds: “95-97 rating. A complex, expansive bouquet displays aromas of fresh dark berries, cherry liqueur, incense and candied violet, and a smoky Indian spice nuance builds in the glass. Concentrated yet energetic and precise, offering intense blackberry and bitter cherry flavors supported by a spine of vibrant minerality. Clings with superb tenacity on the youthfully tannic, floral-dominated finish, leaving behind smoky mineral and star anise notes.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth: “6 stars. The bouquet is savoury, gives an air of ripe red fruits, smoky bacon—it is reserved, but has class, latent raspberry and mulberry. The palate debut is silken, has a most textured surface above a real plunge of full content with a build of serious tannin, a compact pile of tannin. This is very well structured, is Grand Vin. It is coolly floral, is complex, intricate, extended.”
2015 Côte Rôtie La Landonne
Josh Raynolds: “94-96 rating. Powerful black and blue fruit and candied licorice aromas are lifted and sharpened by peppery spice and smoky mineral notes. Coats the palate with concentrated, smoke-tinged blueberry, cherry liqueur and fruitcake flavors that become more energetic with air. Shows plush, seamless texture and finishes impressively long and sappy; chewy tannins build slowly and wrap around the intense dark fruit.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth: “5 stars. The nose gives a firm air of ink, has a stately black-fruited aroma, very fresh black berries such as loganberry with licorice. It is all very tight and sealed. The palate coasts with stylish richness, tasty tannins, gives a real complete wheel of flavour, dark fruits, black jam, with fir, compact tannins. This is rocket wine—off we go from la terre to the sky in one glass ... showing a lot of promise.”
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