About this WINE
Domaine Coursodon has long been one of the leading St Joseph wine estates. The youthful but intelligent Jérôme Coursodon is keen to emphasise the individuality and personality of this appellation which is credited with producing Syrah which approaches Pinot Noir in its silky texture and refinement.
Jérôme’s aspiration is helped by the magnificent Mauves terroir, which is steeply granitic, and by the age of the vines, many of which are over 50 years old and some even approaching their century. The terroir and aspect differ from those of the hill of Hermitage across the Rhône and the wines, as one would expect, differ too. In St Joseph the watchwords are elegance, aromatic refinement and poise on the palate.
Jérome Coursodon fully subscribes to such attributes. The old vines yield only 25 hectoliters per hectare and by making use of open-top fermenters and avoiding too much wood at the maturation stage, he crafts wines with class and perfect balance. 75-80% of the wine is aged in new oak barrels on their lees for one year. Little to no sulphur is used, and the wines are bottled without fining and filtering.
St Joseph is the second-largest appellation in the Northern Rhône with 50 growers producing wines from over 600 hectares of vineyards. Established in 1956, over 90 percent of the wine is red – made exclusively from the Syrah grape. The white wines, meanwhile, are typically a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne varieties. Its vineyards run due south on the west side below Condrieu, and are in six communes: Mauves, Tournon, St Jean-de-Muzols, Lemps, Vion and Glun.The styles of wine in St Joseph tend to be much lighter than other red Appellations d'Origine Contrôlee and the quality can vary dramatically. The soils and climate differ, as it is a long, narrow AOC. There is no particular characteristic of the commune as some wines are produced near Côte-Rôtie, while others are near to Cornas.
The best St Josephs are still produced in the original heartland of the appellation between St Jean-de-Muzols and Mauves, where soils are predominately granitic with patches of limestone and schist. Typically, even the finest St Josephs are slightly lighter and faster-maturing than the wines of Hermitage, as St Joseph's east-facing vineyards lose the sun up to two hours earlier in the crucial ripening season.
To meet demand, some extensions of the appellation have been made on less than ideal land, producing wines of indifferent quality.
Recommended producers: Pierre Gaillard, Jerome Coursodon, Paul Jaboulet
Best vintages: 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1996, 1990
Marsanne is the predominant white grape variety grown in the Northern Rhône where it is used to produce white St. Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, and Hermitage. It is a tricky grape to cultivate, being susceptible to diseases and being particularly sensitive to extreme climatic changes - if growing conditions are too cool, then it fails to ripen fully and produces thin, insipid wines, while, if too hot, the resultant wines are blowsy, overblown and out of balance.
In the Northern Rhône it tends to be blended with around 15% Rousanne and produces richly aromatic, nutty wines which age marvellously - the best examples are from Hermitage and particularly from Chapoutier. Increasingly it is being grown in the Southern Rhône and Languedoc Roussillon where it is bottled as a single varietal or blended with Roussanne, Viognier, and sometimes Chardonnay. It is also grown very successfully in Victoria in Australia where some of the world`s oldest Marsanne vines are to be found.