2013 Côte-Rôtie, Domaine Michel et Stéphane Ogier, Rhône
About this WINE
Domaine Stephane Ogier
The Ogier family had been established growers in Ampuis for over seven generations, but it was only in the 1980s that they began vinifying their own grapes. Stéphane joined the family estate in ’97, working alongside his father Michel, before taking over in 2003.
Heralded as the face of the Northern Rhône’s new generation, Stéphane continues acquiring new parcels and trying new techniques. He brings a Burgundian approach to the region’s terroir from his studies in Beaune. He works with multiple lieux-dits, vinifying each separately and using oak sparingly. This allows the characteristics of each to show. He releases many wines as single lieu-dit bottlings later in the year and others he blends, selecting from different barrels to build a style representative of both his vision and the vintage. Stéphane’s latest investment includes vineyards in Rasteau, Cairanne, and Plan de Dieu in the Southern Rhône, bringing his total land-ownings there up to 50 hectares, all destined for his Côtes-du-Rhône offering.
Côte-Rôtie is one of the most famous of the northern Rhône appellations, with some single vineyard cuvées now selling for the same prices as First Growth Bordeaux. It is the northernmost outpost of the Syrah grape.Côte-Rôtie translates as ‘roasted hillside’, as the south-facing slopes are exposed to the maximum-possible sunlight. Vines have been planted here since Roman times, although the appellation was only created in 1940. Today it covers 500 hectares, with 276 hectares of vineyards stretched across eight kilometres.
Phylloxera devastated vineyards in the late 1800s and Côte-Rôtie’s fortunes remained in the doldrums for another century. After the War, a farmer would receive double the price for a kilo of apricots as for a kilo of grapes, hence vineyards were grubbed up and wine production became increasingly smaller.
It has only really been recognised as a top-quality wine-producing area since the 1970s, with Guigal being the main impetus behind its revival. The two best slopes, Côte Brune and Côte Blonde, rise steeply behind Ampuis and overlook the river. The Côte Brune wines are much firmer and more masculine (the soils are clay and ironstone), whereas the Côte Blonde makes wines with more finesse and elegance due to its light, sandy-limestone soil. Both the Côte Brune and Côte Blonde vineyards rise to 1,000 feet, with a gradient of 30 to 50 degrees.
The wines are made from the Syrah grape, however up to 20 percent of Viogner can be used in the blend, adding finesse, elegance and floral characteristics to the wine. Viognier ripens more quickly than Syrah and the appellation rules stipulate that the grapes must be added to the fermentation – rather than blended later. The best Côte-Rôtie are very deep in colour, tannic and spicy, and need 10 years to evolve and develop.
There are nearly 60 official vineyards (lieux-dits); the best-known are: La Mouline, La Chatillonne (Vidal-Fleury, owned by Guigal) and La Garde (Rostaing) in Côte Blonde; La Viallière, (Rostaing), La Landonne (Guigal, Rostaing) and La Turque (Guigal) in Côte Brune.
Styles vary from heavily-extracted tannic wines which need many years to soften through to lighter, supple and less-structured wines which do not require extended bottle ageing. The most famous wines of Côte-Rôtie are Guigal’s three single-vineyard cuvées: La Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne. These are aged in new wood for 48 months, and demand for them amongst connoisseurs and collectors is significant, leading to prices sometimes comparable to Bordeaux First Growths.
Recommended producers: Guigal, Gerrin, Rostaing, Ogier, Burgaud
Best vintages: 2006, 2005, 2004, 2001, 1999, 1991, 1990, 1985
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
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The barrel tasting chez Ogier is by turns entertaining and rewarding; Stéphane describes his Syrah from Côte Baudin, for example, as a ‘fake blonde’, the wine is far more floral than the vineyard a little further up the hill, Layat, which also features in the blend. The stalwarts of Besset, Fongeant, Champon and Viallière are joined this year by a new holding in Montmain. The wine is appropriately complex, floral, ‘aérien’ and with supple, sweet fruit and precise, very fine tannins. Drink 2017 to 2024.
Simon Field MW - Rhône Buyer
Stéphane has come a long way in the 12 years or so that I have known him: he now has two children, an enviable reputation and a construction project to the south of Ampuis which will result in a winery to rival that of Messrs Guigal. He has also been buying land, which is no mean feat in Côte Rôtie. The challenge of 2013 centred on the cool weather in the middle of the season. Very late green harvesting and then a rapid harvest before the rains in October were key. I recall visiting during the harvest and witnessing a maelstrom of carefully choreographed activity, if you will pardon the apparent contradiction. The effort has certainly paid off.
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