Côte-Rotie, an exceptional terroir
In the hills above Vienne, Côte-Rôtie produces exceptional wines which are as powerful as they are elegant.
Last updated date : 22/12/2022
Philippe Guigal, Managing Director and oenologist, the iconic owner of the vineyard, leads us through the vines on a discovery tour of his wine.
Can you tell us the history of the Côte-Rôtie vineyard?
Wine has been produced here for 2,400 years! Its terraces were created by the Gallo-Romans to grow vines on the slopes, and harvesting techniques have hardly changed since. During the 16th century, legend has it that the Marquis de Maugiron, who owned the Château d’Ampuis, divided his estate into two separate plots, bequeathing them to his two daughters: Côte "blonde" (fair) and Côte "brune" (dark). Both names belong to the same appellation yet describe very different soils. Côte Blonde wines are elegant and feminine, whereas Côte Brune wines are meatier and more masculine.
What are the distinctive characteristics of Côte-Rôtie wines?
They are very robust yet decidedly elegant, and perfect served with game or red meat. They are produced from powerful Syrah grapes, but can also contain up to 20% Viognier, the grapes used to produce white Condrieu wine. This combination, the wealth of the soil and the fact that we hand-pick the grapes, gives the wine incomparably subtle aromas boasting notes of small red fruit.
What of the history of the Guigal estate?
Guigal was established by my grandfather in 1946, and we own 35 hectares in Côte-Rôtie, a substantial portion of the appellation. Côte-Rôtie is restricted to just 285 hectares, which can be the size of a single Châteaux in the Bordeaux area. And that’s precisely what makes it so prestigious. We also own Condrieu, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint Joseph vineyards, and have developed our activity to include breeding, wine producing and trading.
What wine trails would you suggest for Côte-Rôtie?
This vineyard is not readily accessible by car, but the walk from Ampuis or Tupin-et-Semons offers a breathtaking view over the Vallée du Rhône, especially in spring when it’s quite magical! Within close proximity of our vineyards, you can also visit Ile du Beurre , a lovely nature reserve that boasts a great viewpoint over our vineyards.