The Côtes du Rhône La Rouyère 2018 is comprised of equal parts of Syrah and Grenache, hand- harvested at a miniscule yield of 25 hl/ha (about two glasses of wine per vine). The wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, and matured in large, neutral oak casks for twelve months before assembly and bottling. In the glass, La Rouyère 2018 has a saturated, jewel like dark ruby color, with flashes of crimson just at the edge. Red fruit aromas including ripe Corum cherries, crushed red raspberries, and strawberry liqueur move in and out of the foreground as the nose develops in the glass, sometimes alternating with fleeting suggestions of fragrant oriental lilies, fresh thyme, rosemary, and black truffles, all delicately seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper. On the palate, the wine is juicy and fresh, the fruit blacker than in the nose, with griotte cherries, sun-warmed blackberries, and black plum preserves underpinned by black olives and cool graphite minerality (like a northern Rhône Syrah). And the long, elegant finish reprises the lilies and cracked pepper. It’s hard to believe that this sublimely elegant wine comes from so far south.
About this wine producer: Camille Wallut is an architect by training, and a second-generation vigneronne, who returned to take the reins of one of the most extraordinary estates in the southern Côtes-du-Rhône when her father retired in 1997. Her 13 hectares of vines are planted at an average altitude of 500 meters, in the shale and limestone foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail above the village of Suzette. Some of the Grenache was planted more than eighty years ago. Included is a parcel lying on a Mistral-swept terrace at 620 meters, which is the highest vineyard in all the Côtes-du-Rhône. Because of the altitude, the temperature is much cooler at night than in the valley, so the grapes retain acidity, ripen more evenly, and form more complex aromas. A second benefit is that organic viticulture is much easier than down in the valley, because common valley vine diseases like mildew and grey rot, which often require aggressive chemical treatment, are rarely found at such high altitudes.