A remarkable place
The northern Rhône Valley: a stretch of wine country where the river sets the tempo. The river shapes a fold of land that hugs the vineyards and confers their authenticity, their point of origin. Narrow gorges, sheer slopes, tremendous terraces. Amid this arresting geography, the vines stand firm and offer sumptuous wines. The Rhône has given the grower his home port, and the plantations drink deep in its exceptional bank.
Nature never does anything by chance. In this steep-sided part of the Rhône Valley, the first vine-leaf imprints date back seven million years. Vienne was already famed for its wines in the second century BC. Vines grew on the high lands, where the soil was thinnest. There is a pleasing geological unity here. On the west bank (Côte-Rôtie), the gneiss and micaceous schists make for sharp landscapes; the granite and alluvial deposits (Condrieu and Saint-Joseph) have produced more rounded features. On the east bank, there is the same subsoil in the central part of the plantations. In the north and south, the vineyards sit on Quaternary alluvial terraces comprising Pliocene or Miocene clay-rich sediments.
Sensitive, attentive growing
Yves Cuilleron rejects off-the-shelf ideas. His vision of vine cultivation is highly personal: not conventional, not organic, not biodynamic. And his philosophy is simple: “Produce the best possible grapes”. He practises “viticulture raisonnable”, an integrated, eco-friendly approach in which observation is key. All vine work vital to grape quality is conducted: planting of Viognier vines deriving solely from the family’s own yards (“selections massales”), and of Syrah vines from high-quality clones and from “selections massales”.
Maturing: 18 months in barriques.
Ageing: wine vinified for laying down; slightly hard when young. Preferable to wait 4-5 years, but it can age 15 years or more.