This page is a guide that offers links to detailed profiles for all the top producers from the Northern Rhone located in Cote Rotie and Hermitage with wine tasting notes, reviews, ratings, images and links to buy wine. You will also read about the soil, terroir, wine making, history and wine and food matches
Cote Rotie is perhaps one of the most, elegant, aromatic and seductive wines in the world. At their best, the wines of Cote Rotie offer depth of flavors and complex aromatics including bacon fat, black and red fruits, kirsch, mineral, pepper, earth, spice and floral scents. The best Cote Rotie wines provide ample freshness in the finish, coupled with pure red and sometimes darker berries coupled with opulent textures.
The wines of Cote Rotie at their best are the most sensuous, silky, exotic, vinous treasures in the wine world. They offer textures that caress the palate with erotic sensations and intense perfumes. Due to the small size of the Cote Rotie appellation, coupled with high demand, the prices for most Cote Rotie wines are high, but they can be worth it. The links on the left side of the page bring you to full profiles of the best domaine’s and producers in Cote Rotie. The profiles include wine tasting notes, history, images, information on wine making and terroir. The terroir of Cote Rotie is quite unique. The most famous vineyards of Cote Rotie are located on two hills, known collectively as Cote Blonde and Cote Brune.
But the truth is, Cote Rotie consists of a series of small slopes and hills located not far from Ampuis. Cote Rotie is unique due in part to the fact that many producers add various amounts of Viognier, a white wine grape to their red wine as part of the blend. Viognier is best known as the white grape varietal grown in the Condrieu appellation. The links on this page will bring you to full, detailed profiles with wine tasting notes, histories, information on the wine making and terroir of the following Cote Rotie Producers.
Hermitage, located just south of Cote Rotie is a small appellation. The total size of Hermitage is about 130 hectares of vines. Think about this… Chateau Lafite Rothschild is 100 hectares. Cote Rote is massive in comparison with a whopping 201 planted hectares! Hermitage is located about 30 miles south of Cote Rotie, not far from the village of Tain l’Hermitage. Many of the best Hermitage producers also make wine from nearby Northern Rhone appellations such as; Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas, St. Joseph and St. Peray.
The production of those other appellations dwarfs that of Hermitage. The famous “Hill of Hermitage,” which covers 140 hectares with its steep, rocky, granite, hillsides was granted protected status from the French Government. Hermitage has been used The wine of has a history of being blended with Bordeaux and Burgundy at times in the past, to add body, color and tannin in select vintages.
This discreet practice which was not always openly talked about is no longer allowed. Hermitage is famous for not only their red wines, but for their white wines, which are made from Roussanne and Marsanne grape varieties. A tiny amount of sweet, white Hermitage wine is also produced and sold as Vin de Paille. The links below will bring you to full, detailed profiles on the top domaines in Hermitage where you can red wine tasting notes, information on the history, wine making techniques, terroir and soils of the following estates.
- Everything you want to know about Hermitage Wines and Wineries
- Jean Louis Chave
- Yann Chave
- du Colombier
- Delas Feres
- Guigal Ex Voto
- Jaboulet La Chapelle
- Nicolas Perrin
- Marc Sorrel
- Tardieu Laurent
It is important to note, that while Cote Rotie and Hermitage are clearly the top appellations in the Northern Rhone, there are other areas that produce outstanding wine, that are much more affordable for most wine lovers. While not offering the same level of finesse or complexity, the wines drink better at a younger age, they are often made by the same producers in Cote Rotie and Hermitage and cost a lot less money.
Crozes Hermitage The history of Crozes Hermitage dates back to perhaps the 1700’s, when wine from Larange, a village in the appellation began being exported to England, via Bordeaux. By the end of the 1800’s, the wines from Crozes Hermitage were the most expensive in the Northern Rhone, after Hermitage and Cote Rotie. The appellation was officially created in 1937 and expanded in 1952.
Corzes Hermitage is 1,032 hectares. Located on the other side of the hill of Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage consists of 11 communes. There are various terroirs and soils in Corzes. In the north, you find more granite hills, slopes, limestone and red clay. There is more clay at the bottom of the slopes, on the plains. More than 90% of the wines are red. Syrah is the only allowable red wine grape. Marsanne and Rousanne are the only white wine grapes planted in the appellation. Red and white wine grape blends are allowed, with a maximum of 15% white wine grapes able to be added to the blend. The top producers in Crozes Hermitage are: Jaboulet, Delas Freres, Alain Graillot, Ferraton, Guigal, Remizieres, Albert Belle, Saint Cosme, Yann Chave, Colombier and Domaine Natacha.
St. Joseph The area of Saint Joseph dates back to 1292. During the 1500’s, the wine was revered and was enjoyed by members of the royal family. The appellation of St. Joseph was created in 1956. At the time, the region only included wine from 6 communes. Those original communes continue to produce the best wine of the appellation; Glun, Lemps, Mauves, St. Jean de Muzols, Tournon and Vion. The best terroir and soils in those areas are the granite hillsides.
The boundaries of St. Joseph were increased in 1969, allowing a total of 25 communes to be used for making wine in the St. Joseph appellation. Saint Joseph has continued increasing in size. In 1971, only 97 hectares were under vine. Today, there are more than 1.200 hectares of vines in the appellation. The vineyards are planted to both red and white wine grape varieties. Roughly 93% of the appellation is planted to red wine grape varieties. The majority of the grapes are destemmed. The wines of Saint Joseph are some of the most elegant, or feminine wines in the Northern Rhone Valley. They also drink well very early, if not on release and remain very well priced. The top producers in St. Joseph are: Chapoutier, Delas Freres, Guigal, Domaine Coursodon, Andre Perret, Jaboulet, Chave and Ferraton.
Cornas Cornas has a long history as a region planted with vines that dates back to 885. Most of Cornas was produced for the enjoyment of the local population. Although there are rumors that due to its robust character, during the early 1800’s, barrels of Cornas were shipped to Bordeaux and other regions to add strength and vigor to their wines. Cornas became an official appellation in 1938. Only red wine is produced in Cornas.
Cornas is small with only 104 hectares under vine. The vineyards can be easily divided into three sections. In the north, you find granite and limestone soils. In the center, the terroir is mostly granite with clay soils. As you head south, you encounter granite and sand. Cornas is also shaped by the 11 streams that run through the appellation. Cornas remained a small, relatively unknown appellation until Robert Parker scored a wine 100 Pts, which made previously, uninterested collectors take notice of what was often considered to produce a rustic, tannic, character driven Northern Rhone wine. The top producers of Cornas are: Alain Voge, Courbis, Auguste Clape, Thierry Allemand, Eric et Joel Durand and Vincent Paris.
Condrieu The Condrieu appellation was created in 1940. Condrieu, located not far from Cote Rotie only produces white wine from Viognier grapes. The vineyards are distributed into 7 communes. The 105 hectares of vines has a terroir with mostly steep hillsides and granite soils. The wines offer notes of ripe, sweet peaches, orange, apricot and honeydew melon. they are dry, but often taste and feel sweet. For many wine lovers, Condrieu is not a wine for long term aging. The best examples taste better on release or in their first few years after bottling. Although, I must admit, I have friends that like them with age. Oh well… more for them. The best producers of Condrieu are: Guigal, Rene Rostaing, Georges Vernay, Delas Freres and Tardieu Laurent.
Grillet The appellation of Grillet, which was created in 1940 is interesting for several reasons. First, only one grape is allowed by law, Viognier. Next, only one producer occupies the entire region and perforce, owns the only vineyard in the appellation, Chateau Grillet. The appellation, vineyard and winery was sold by Isabelle Baratin. Chateau Grillet had been in her family since 1825. The property was purchased by Francois Pinault, the owner of Chateau Latour in 2011.
The Grillet appellation is 3.8 hectares of vines, planted to Viognier on steep, rocky inclines and terraces. If you think 3.8 hectares is small, prior to 1971, only 1.7 hectares were under vine, making Grillet the smallest appellation in France. Chateau Grillet, unlike its cousins in Condrieu has the unique ability to age for decades.
St. Peray The appellation of St. Peray was created in 1936. The only wines produced in St. Peray are white wine and sparkling wine. Roussanne and Marsanne are the only grapes allowed by AOC law to be planted in the appellation. St. Peray consists of 64.7 hectares of vines.