Domaine de la Grande Colline 2015 Syrah, Vin de France (Saint Joseph)
Item Number: 14085
Sub Region: Northern Rhone
Appellation/AVA: Vin de France
Estate Grown Wine: Yes
Grape(s): 100% Syrah
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alc by Vol(%): 12.5
Viticulture: Practicing Biodynamic
Soil Type: Granite
This is the very last bit of Domaine de la Grande Colline ever sold. 2015 was released in February 2020.
Vineyard Size: 0.50 hectares; steep slope
Winemaking: Whole cluster, 15-20 day carbonic maceration, spontaneous fermentation in barrels with indigenous yeasts, no fining, no filtering, no SO2
Touching Note From Zev Rovine: "I don’t necessarily want to get too sappy here, but I’m going to anyway. In the early days of ZRS, I remember hearing the rumors of a Japanese guy who was a disciple of Thierry Allemand, who bought the steepest parcel in Cornas and made his wine with no additives in a cave under a mountain. It was a thing of great mystery and quickly became my first priority. Thanks to some Swedish wine importer friends, we were able to get an appointment with Hirotake, and the experience couldn’t have fulfilled my dreams any bit more. Hirotake did get the steepest parcel in Cornas. It was so steep that it had never been planted, which was really the only reason he could afford it. So, he went about clearing the land and planting massale vines. He felt that because the land had never been farmed the flora and fauna of the place would allow him not to spray copper sulfites. He was in fact the vineyard manager of Brune and Blonde (Côte-Rôtie) before this project, so he wasn’t just an idealist - he had serious experience. Visiting the vineyard, you saw that he needed to tie himself to a post in order to get up and down the parcel. And for 7 years, he was right; he didn’t have to spray anything. The vineyard took care of itself. Then, one year mildew took over and he lost an entire vintage. I feel like this is a bit of the story of Hirotake. Ambition and know-how, coupled with risk and idealism, which doesn’t always work, but when it does, pure magic is the result.
In his cellar the story was the same. He was in a cave, and a particularly wet one. I’ve never seen someone let 3-4 inches of mold develop on the outsides of their barrels. Sitting in that cave, with freezing water dropping on your head, often in January, was an invigorating experience. Every barrel was in some state of fermentation or elevage and they were often going in wayward directions. But he’s a patient winemaker and would often allow wines 5-10 years of barrel elevage in order to let them finish or resolve whatever strangeness was going on. We’ve always gotten the wines on strange vintage releases, getting newer vintages before old ones, etc.
The wines themselves have been mercurial. The Canon wines, especially the Muscat d’Alexandrie, which were all negoce, were distinctive and fun wines. But the Cornas, when it’s good, is like nothing else. Just pure olive and smoke but without the heaviness and alcohol often associated with Cornas. When they’re not good, they’re not good. Mouse, VA, etc. That’s also part of his attachment to an idea and unwavering commitment to purity and natural wine. I still think that the bad wines will find their time. We just need to be patient with them. Seems like the least we can do, in fact.
Anyway, his grand ideas maybe turned out to be a little too grand, and Hirotake has given up on the Rhône and has moved back to Japan, where he is making wine. We’ll of course bring it in when it’s ready to go, and there are whispers of something special happening in Anjou, so the story is not over. Just the Cornas chapter. I’ll miss the Japanese meal his wife would make us when we visited, which was always a fresh change from the constant cheese, meat, and blanquette we normally get fed on the road. And I’ll especially miss the gawking at how someone could take an idea to such a selfless and extreme level."