Domaine Clusel-Roch “Galet” (Coteaux du Lyonnais 2015)
Special Price: $156/6-pack (~$26/bottle)
The link between the vineyards of Beaujolais and the Northern Rhône Valley lie on the slopes of the Monts du Lyonnais at the eastern edge of the Massif Central. While achieving appellation status only recently in the mid-1980s, Coteaux du Lyonnais has nevertheless had a long history of mostly red wine production before the ravages of phylloxera. Today, vines share space with other food crops and fruit orchards, enjoying the balance of continental winters with Mediterranean summers.
100% Gamay from vines with an average age of about 40 years, Domaine Clusel-Roch‘s “Galet” comes from the southern part of the appellation, from the village of Millery not far from the Rhône River. The slopes are southeast facing and the soil consists of glacial moraine and granite. Harvest and sorting is done by hand and fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 12 months in barrels, about two to three years old. Only 500 cases are produced.
There is little sign of the hallmark carbonic maceration smells of strawberries and cinnamon. In their place are more elegant Burgundian aromatics of cherry licorice, flower gardens mulched with fresh forest compost, and just a wee curl of sandalwood smoke. A sip is structured and dense with sappy wild bramble fruit. If any comparison to Cru Beaujolais is to be made, it has to be to the age-worthy specimens from Morgon and Moulin-à-vent. Break out a bottle this spring with chicken quarters slow-roasted over hardwood charcoal and a side of pommes de terre à la Lyonnaise.
Domaine Clusel-Roch began as a simple family farm that cultivated vegetables, fruit trees and a handful of Côte-Rôtie vines. By the mid-1990s, Gilbert Clusel and Brigitte Roch had built the estate into a top level producer with a modern gravity-fed cellar, replanting of vines using only massale selection grafted at the estate, and the switch to organic and biodynamic farming – achieving full organic certification in the early 2000s. Today it is their son, Guillaume Clusel, who is responsible for most of the work at the estate. The vines are cultivated in the most natural way possible. Indeed, intensive manual labor is required on the steep slopes of Côte-Rôtie. This dedication to producing wine in the vineyard first can be tasted in each of their wines.
Domaine Clusel-Roch “Classique” (Côte Rôtie 2014)
Special Price: ~$80/bottle
The wines of Côte Rôtie can be the most profound expressions of the Syrah grape and Clusel-Roch’s “Classique” is no exception. The aromas of smoked meat and flowers precede a red and blue berry salad. A sip is dense but not thick, somehow simultaneously wiry and generous with a mineral vein that goes on for miles. Expect this wine to develop over the next decade or more. In the near term it would be a special pairing with a large hunk of roasted or grilled red meat.
This cuvée comes from around eight acres of vines in the lieux-dits of Viallière, Champon, and Le Plomb in the northern part of the appellation facing southeast over the Rhône River. This area is known as the Côte Brun, with soils of decomposed schist containing black and white mica. The blend is 95% Syrah from selection massale and around 5% co-planted Viognier. The average vine age is 20 years old. Harvest and sorting is done by hand. Grapes are put into tank by gravity, partially de-stemmed, and fermented with their indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 2 years in oak barrels (15% new) with no filtration before bottling.