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Apr 14, 2020

One of the greatest wines of the world is the Syrah-based Côte Rôtie, from the northernmost appellation in the northern Rhône. Named "roasted slope" after the sun that bathes the south-facing slopes, the region is less than 25 miles south of Lyon near the town of Ampuis, and is at the cool-climate limit for growing Syrah.

On the right bank of the Rhône, across 3 communes of Saint-Cyr sur Rhône, Ampuis, and Tupin-Semons, the vineyards are on extremes slopes at 180m/590 ft and 325m/1070 ft above sea level.

This week we explain what makes these wines, from this tiny, historic area, so very fascinating and why they truly are one of the greatest wines in the world. 


I think the best thing to do in the show notes this time is to list the things that are hard to catch on the show. Rather than a lengthy recap, this time I'll list the regions and producers mentioned!


Sub areas

 Ampuis: The area that lies above Ampuis town contains the best sites. The Reynard River serves as the geological dividing lie between the schist soils of the northern part of the appellation, and the granite soils in the south. 


  • Cote Brune – Schist soils make  powerful, tannic, darker
  • Chavaroche – Borders Cote Brune. Bernard Levet produces a single vineyard Cote Rotie from here
  • La Landonne – Famed for Guigal’s La Landonne but Gerinn, Rene Rostaing, Delas and Xavier Gerard also make wine from here
  • Cote Rozier- some of the steepest sites in Cote Rotie. Great wines include Ogier’s Belle Helene, and wines from Jamet, Guigal, Bonnefond and Gangloff
  • Cote blonde – Vastly different soils and more Viognier. The soil is granite and the wines are more aromatic and lighter. The famed La Mouline vineyard is here

The village of Tupin  has no single vineyards but makes some great wine

The Village of Verenay is the next village upstream from Ampuis, and producers full, rich, long-lived wines. The vineyards of interest are Grandes Places, and Vialliere (10 hectares makes it quite variable in quality)

 St Cyr is in the far north of the AOC, past Verenay. It was added in the 1960s and is on schist but not as good as the wines near Ampuis. 

Top Producers

TRADITIONAL:  Domaine Gilles Barge –most traditional practices,Domaine Bernard Levet  
MODERN: Guigal, Gerin, Bonnefond

Middle ground:

  • Domaine Jamet: one of the brothers went off to set up his own domaine, Jean-Luc Jamet, both are very good
  • Rene  Rostaing: Rene's son Pierre took over a few years ago – wines are amazing. Single vineyards from Cote Blonde and La Landonee, Ampodium blend for early drinking.
  • Clusel-Roch  from Verenay, single vineyard from Grandes Places
  • Stephane Ogier
  • Vidal-Fleury (the merchant house for which Marcel Guigal's father once worked as cellarmaster but which now belongs to Guigal). 
  • Chapoutier


Top Vintages: 1997, 1998,  2001, 2003, 2007, 2009-10, 2012, 2015-19


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