It’s a Long Read but Worth It
Not counting the much larger Guigal domaine, René Rostaing is the closest thing to a true cult star that Côte-Rôtie has yet produced. A grower since 1971, his first vineyard purchases were a microscopic half acre each in Côte Blonde and in La Landonne on the Côte Brune. The real breakthrough came when his father-in-law, Albert Dervieux-Thaize retired in 1990, followed by his uncle Marius Gentaz-Dervieux three years later. Between these two legendary growers, Rostaing acquired over ten acres of very old vines in some of the appellation’s top sites. The vineyard expansion also enabled René to quit his day job in 1991, and to devote himself full time to winemaking.
Good, Better, Best:
Today, Rostaing can boast 20+ acres of the finest vineyards in and around Côte-Rôtie. The wealth of vineyard holdings results in an astonishing array of wines. From several parcels of old vines immediately adjoining Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu, Rostaing produces a gorgeous non-appellation white and red called Les Lezardes. In Condrieu, he holds a tiny parcel in Côte Bonnette that yields some of the region’s most refined Viognier. Most of his Côte-Rôtie parcels are blended to produce the Cuvée Classique, a terrific expression of the appellation. And, of course, there are his two prized Côte-Rôtie special cuvées, La Landonne and Côte Blonde. The Standard Bearer Rostaing is a beacon for Côte-Rôtie’s “Classicists”—those whose winemaking is deeply rooted in tradition while incorporating new thinking. In the cellar, he employs roto-fermenters, but only so he can break up the must himself, not to shorten macerations. He uses 15-25% new wood on his Côte-Rôties but detests obviously oaky wines. He prizes mature fruit, but rails against some of his neighbor’s over-ripe, “Australian” wines. In other words, this is the best of classic Côte-Rôtie—brought into the modern age, but true to its origins.
In the late 1990s, René and his wife purchased a property in the Côteaux du Languedoc near Nîmes. The estate, originally named Puech Chaud, is now known as Puech Noble. Located in a relatively cool micro- climate, Puech Noble gave René a chance to produce Syrah on the limestone soils so beloved by many French growers. Bolstered with small amounts of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Rolle, Puech Noble is now producing one of the South’s most beautiful wines. The terroir yields a slight garrique character— the only clue you have that this isn’t Northern Rhône wine of the highest order. It may be the best example yet of the Rostaing’s ethic: elegant, yet concentrated; expressive, but subtle; hedonistic, but cerebral.
“René Rostaing is one of Côte Rôtie’s most masterful growers…”
~ Robert Parker
“The Rostaing touch is evident in the perfumed fruits and elegant, silky tannins….”
~ Andrew Jeffords on Puech Noble
~ Rare Wine Co. ~
2015 Domaine Rostaing Les Lezardes Syrah
Bright violet. Ripe black and blue fruits and pungent flowers on the highly perfumed, mineral- and spice-accented nose. Juicy and seamless in texture, offering sweet blueberry and cassis flavors along with hints of cracked pepper and olive paste. Fine-grained tannins build slowly on a very long, smooth finish that leaves hints of licorice and candied violet behind.
2013 Puech Noble Côteaux du Languedoc
Puech Noble is now producing one of the South’s most beautiful wines. The terroir yields a slight garrique character— the only clue you have that this isn’t Northern Rhône wine of the highest order. It may be the best example yet of the Rostaing’s ethic: elegant, yet concentrated; expressive, but subtle; hedonistic, but cerebral.