Domaine Rene Rostaing
Wine With Kat: Traipsing through the N. Rhone - Rene Rostaing!
Crush + Press: Cote-Rotie's Rene Rostaing
Not counting the much larger Guigal domaine, René Rostaing is the closest thing to a true cult star that Côte-Rôtie has yet produced. He started out in 1971 with just 1.16 acres of Côte-Rôtie vineyards, split between the Cote Blonde and La Landonne on the Cote Brune. Since that time, his holding have increased considerably; he inherited collectively 25 acres from his father-in-law Albert Dervieux-Thaize who was president of the Côte-Rôtie growers association for 33 years and from his uncle Marius Gentaz-Dervieux. This vineyard expansion enabled Rene to quit his day job in 1991 and to devote himself full time to winemaking.
In the late 1990's, Rene and his wife purchased a modest estate, Domaine Puech Chaud, in the Coteaux du Langudoc near Nimes. The cool micro-climate and limestone gravel of this zine produces one of the Midi's most beautiful Syrah-based wines. Apart from Guigal, Rostaing may have the finest vineyard holdings in Côte-Rôtie. He works 20+ ha, in 14 lieux-dits, including 1.6 ha in La Landonne, 1.5 ha in Fongeant, and 1.2 ha in La Viallière. A majority of the vines were planted in the 1960s and 1970s, but some of the Viallière vines exceed 100 years old! In addition, he has a choice 1.0 ha in Condrieu, and works a 10 ha site in the Côteaux du Languedoc.
He uses traditional techniques and modern technology. Rostaing adapts his methods to the vintage. Grapes can be destemmed or not. Maceration can vary from 7-20 days. All the Côte-Rôties are aged in a mix of 225 and 500 liter barrels (about 20% new). The Condrieu is fermented and aged in stainless steel.
When you think of René Rostaing, it is impossible not to think of the Cote-Rotie style and extra richness of the South, elegant, yet concentrated; expressive, but subtle; hedonistic, but cerebral.
Vinous Media 3/2016
"Because of the frighteningly low yields (40% of normal) at Côte-Rôtie in 2014, René Rostaing opted to make a single bottling, his entry-level Ampodium, but 'not because of a lack of quality,' he said. 'On the contrary, it's a very good vintage,' one that he compares to 2006. To illustrate his point, Rostaing opened a bottle of his '06 Côte Blonde at the conclusion of our tasting. It is showing impressive finesse and detail, displaying lively red and dark berry character and suave finishing florality. It's just hitting its drinking window, in my opinion, but Rostaing says it's fully ready to drink, adding that he has 'always preferred to err on the side of youth when drinking any red wine. When they get old, even if they're from a great terroir and a great vintage, they've mostly lost their distinction and just taste like really good aged red wine.' When I reminded him that he told me the same thing when I first visited here in July 1989, he laughed and said that he likes to be consistent and isn't quick to change his opinions. He also pointed out that "7%, maybe 8% new oak is the rule here, and no oak for Condrieu, because the goal is purity and elegance, and wood is a distraction."
Wine Advocate 2/2015
"René Rostaing’s Côte Rôtie Côte Blonde is the smallest production of Rene’s three cuvees (Ampodium, Landonne and Côte Blonde) and comes from his roughly 1 hectare (roughly 2.5 acres) of holdings in the Côte Blonde lieu-dit. This vines here were planted both in 1934, and then later in 1970-1971. It’s the only cuvee to incorporate Viognier, and this variety makes up roughly 3-5% of the blend. While René destemmed more in the past, today, he keeps destemming to a minimum and aging occurs in mostly older demi-muid, with 15-20% being new. There’s a scant 500 cases in most vintages, and it’s certainly one of the Icon wines from the northern Rhône."
International Wine Cellar 3/2013
"Drawing comparisons of the three most recent vintages, he summed things up this way: '2010 is a perfect balance of sun and terroir, 2009 is more about sun, and 2011 is more about terroir. That's why 2010 is the great one."