No gentle slopes here: on the right-bank of the Rhône, Côte-Rôtie wines draw their character from the extremely steep hillsides that sometimes reach a gradient of over 60°.
The very narrow vineyard is planted on terraces fewer than 50 vines wide. Located a few miles from Lyon, this is the northernmost appellation in the Rhône Valley. Côte-Rôtie is grown, made, and protected by “Probus’ centurions”: around 100 passionate winemakers that work the vines of these 60 vineyards.
This prestigious cru is made from Syrah grapes that when combined with the viognier produce extraordinarily delicate aromas and remarkably fine tannins.
The wine’s beautiful ruby colour, the complex and elegant nose of spices, summer fruits, black fruits, and violet, its robustness and of course its pedigree make this a highly sought after wine… January sees the Ampuis wine market, which since 1928 has been THE unmissable rendezvous for this appellation.
Côte-Rôtie is the only red cru in the Northern Côtes du Rhône to plant Viognier (up to 20%) alongside the Syrah. The Syrah produces quality wines, with rich colours and tannin content. In Côte-Rôtie, viognier complements the Syrah with finesse and aromas. The cru’s colour is a deep ruby red.
Its nose can vary from fruits – red or black – to notes of violet and spices. It is a robust, pedigree wine that ages very well, and may display notes of woodland, leather, tobacco, or coffee. With a long finish, it is perfectly balanced and quite fat.
2000 years ago, the Roman authors Pliny the Elder and Martial, and the Greek, Plutarch, sang the praises of Côte-Rôtie wines, which they knew as “wine of Vienne”. The first written documents that make mention of Ampuis and Côte-Rôtie date from the 6th century.
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the 13th century saw the reputation of Ampuis’ wines grow even further, and records show wine from Côte-Rôtie being served in the great halls of the princes of England, Russia, Prussia, and, of course, France. The vineyard reached its peak in 1890, with the slightest fold in the hillside that caught the sun being planted.
While it proved resistant to phylloxera and other diseases, the Great War of 1914-1918 claimed 150 winemakers, meaning some of the hillsides fell out of use. In 1960, only 60 hectares of production remained, but the 1980s saw the vineyard’s revival. The appellation was given fresh impetus and acquired international renown.