Spectacular red that is made in the mould of one of the most-celebrated wines in the Rhone Valley. This is clean as a whistle, yet smooth, round and full of dark fruit flavour, with notes of peach and apricot, all tied together with a lick of oak.
Whether this is a copy of the region's famed Côte Rotie or a simply reflection of the vines that he has to play with (it doesn't matter which) this is a tremendous and delicious red that blends 85% Syrah with 15% Viognier. Cuilleron blends the two even further into the name of the wine as well: it's not a special vineyard name, it's an elision of words Syrah and Viognier, "Si-gné"!
Why do they use both red and white grapes?
Does it turn into rosé?
Well, it's a tradition from Côte Rotie, which is one of the finest of all French appellations, and the result is consistently amazing wines. But why?!
Well, it's to do with phenolics in the skins of the grapes. These are the biological components that give colour and flavour to wine. In this case, the Syrah being dark and red, while the Viognier has components that actually latch on to the Syrah antho-cyanins (dark colour compounds) that leech more colour out of the Syrah during the fermentation process, making it a darker wine. It's pretty cool! The other visual impact of the Viognier is that it makes wines using this recipe appear to be glossier - they look shinier, smoother and have a brighter lustre about them. It's a genuine magic formula.
Flavour-wise there is a lovely combination as well - you find all the dark fruit and plum character of Syrah but these are, in a sense, lifted by the peachy apricot of the Viognier. The wines tend to be more aromatic and perfumed - seriously, this is a truly divine wine.
Yves Cuilleron is a champion wine-maker of the Rhone and produces some of the most exclusive wines in the region. He knows exactly what each plot is able to yield in terms of quality, style and character and in that regard is a master of all of the vines he tends. This wine is made from the best selection of vines on the hills next to the most famed sites in the Rhone, and they are a selection found only on shallow, granitic soils in the Chavanay sub-zone. This base provides a superb platform for the grapes to ripen with minimal intervention from the vineyard team, who, in truth, only fertilise when necessary with organic fertilisers and don't even spray with insecticides. The result is this wonderfully complex, rich and pure blend of the two chief protagonist grape varieties in the Northern Rhone. It is wine that is fermented in open-top vats, followed by a maceration of 2 weeks or so. It is aged in barriques for 8 months, providing the wine with structure, elegance, character and a lick of oak. Another very, very special wine.
Yes, just a note; this is now the 2021 vintage, which you might think is very youthful (to say the least). Well, it is; but these days that doesn't have such negative connotations as it used to: I'd always ask if it is ready for drinking; in other words, is there any aspect of the wine that isn't quite right, or that will be ironed-out, or better in a year or so. The answer here, because of the skill of the winemaker, is no! It's perfectly ready to drink and there is nothing I'd want change now. It will develop and change subtly in time, but it won't get any better, nor any worse.
2021 was a nearly perfect vintage in the Northern Rhone and while other regions may have struggled, the Northern Rhone saw the best estates prepared and able to handle the weather to their advantage, even with smaller yields.
Top producer Jerome Coursodon summed it up like this: "The great news is that the result is exceptional both in a normal quantity and in a classically chiselled vintage with great balance and acidity, with alcohol between 12.5 and 13.2. I can’t wait to watch 2021 develop over the years. It could turn out to be one of the truly superb Northern Rhone vintages for in some time, without the excess sun that we’ve been used to recently."
Want to drink Côte Rotie but haven't got the adventurous spirit just right now? Don't worry - this is for you!
Region: Rhone Valley
Grape(s): Viognier, Syrah
Style: Svelte, Structured, Pure, Organic, Medium Full, Fresh, Fleshy, Dark, Complex
Best food matches: Venison, Tuna, Tapas, Roasts, Red Meats, Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Hard Cheeses, Grills, Grilled Vegetables, Fine Dining, Cheeses, Charcuterie, Beef, Barbecue