2010 marks the first vintage that René will be calling his Cuvée Classique ‘Ampodium', the oldGallo-Roman name for Ampuis. And it displays all the classicism and grandness that ancient Roman culture exemplified. A notably appealing wine with a tender, succulent core of fruit and lots of crunchy freshness. René added 50-55% stems while vinifying, adding a degree of complexity and grounded earthiness. Very Rostaing. Utterly delicious.
René Rostaing retired after the 2014 vintage, leaving the estate in the capable hands of his son Pierre. René had spent 40 years building a reputation as the patriarch of the Northern Rhône, and Pierre’s handling of the 2015s and 2016s showed a seamless handover has taken place. For the 2017 vintage the house recipe remains unchanged: old vines from the region’s greatest sites, a high proportion of whole bunch vinification, long macerations, and restrained use of new French oak. Pierre has continued his father’s inimitable style in Condrieu, fermenting the wine in stainless steel. The estate is known for its unique use of Rototanks for its red fermentation – closed horizontal tanks with internal plunging mechanisms. René started using these in 1985 and believes they give much gentler pigeage than what can be achieved by hand. The closed tanks also help protect the wines from oxidation. This enables long maceration times, and the resulting wines are typically deep in colour, full of flavour, and abundant in tannins.
Only a red wine appellation, Côte Rôtie is the most northern of all Rhône appellations and is produced mostly from Syrah, although Viognier may contribute up to 20% of the blend. Its terroir is divided into two categories. Côte Brune's soil is comprised of iron-entrenched granite giving thesoil a rich red-brown colour. As a result, it creates wine of notable power and concentration that usually needs time in the cellar to soften and develop. Heading south down the slope towards Condrieu, one encounters Côte Blonde, an area comprised of decomposed schist and mica that is lighter in colour and tends to produce elegantly styled wine for earlier consumption (most of the area's Viognier is grown here). Many traditional producers of Côte Rôtie feel that their best wines are a blend of the two.