My last visitor before the start of Hospices du Rhône was with Stéphane Ogier of Domaine Michel and Stéphane Ogier located in northern Rhône appellation of Côte-Rôtie.
The vineyards of this famous A.O.C. are located just south of the ancient town of Vienne and are spread across the 3 communes of Saint-Cyr-sur-le-Rhône, Ampuis, and Tupins-et-Semons. To work (or walk) the vineyards of Côte-Rôtie is one of the most challenging exercises that one can undertake in the world of wine..
The slopes here are extremely vertical, so all work must be done laboriously and by hand. Composed overwhelmingly of grantitic rock, these steep parcels are planted to syrah, (with a bit of viognier) and keep from falling into the might Rhone river by judiciously fortified stone walls. In english, Côte-Rôtie literally translates to “the roasted slope” , which references to the long hours of sunlight that these vineyards slopes receive. Nearly 60 different parcels or “lieu-dit”, all with varying exposition and slight variance in soil type no doubt contribute to the incredible complexity for which wines from this appellation are so famous.
What does a wine from Côte Rôtie taste like?
Descriptors often include:
blackcurrent, violets, bacon-fat (savory), smoke/flint (mineral), roses, white pepper.
La famille Ogier’s estate is located in the village of Ampuis, and consists of 15 acres (6 acres are within the Côte Rôtie appellation). Prior to 1980, Michel Ogier (a.k.a. pere), sold both his fruit and wines to the large negoçiant Marcel Guigal. However the new decade brought a change of esprit for Michel, and he began to bottle his wines under his own label. In 1997, Stéphane Ogier (fils), took charge of the property. Since then, the young, passionate and very determined Stéphane has rocked this small domaine to new heights, both in terms of quality and reputation.
Below is a recap on what I tasted with Stéphane.
2006 Domaine Michel and Stéphane Ogier Côte Rôtie
Composed of 100% syrah from from vineyards located in both the Côte Blonde (70%) and Côte Brune (30%). The vine age ranges from 18-63 years. Deep, black cherry, with very subtle hints of smoke and savory notes. Silky mouthfeel and refined tannins.
2007 Domaine Michel and Stéphane Ogier “La Rosine” Syrah
La Rosine comes from 15 year old vines planted between Côte Rôtie and Condrieu. Deep purple fruits matched with just a hint of tobacco, spice and fresh acidity make this a great wine to starting point for getting to know the wines and style of northern Rhone syrah.
2006 Domaine Michel and Stéphane Ogier “l’Âme Soeur” Syrah
l’Âme Soeur is composed of 100% syrah from vineyards planted on the opposite side of the Rhône River in Seyssuel and near the town of Vienne. These southwest facing slopes display a soil type quite simliar to that of the famous Côte Brune in Côte-Rôtie.
L’Âme Soeur or soul mate in French is therefore a very fitting name for this cuvee which is fermented and aged in cask, of which about ½ is new oak. Smoky, spicy and dark cherry characterize this elegant and inviting syrah.