Syrah, Dom Rene Rostaing 'Vassal de Puech Noble' 2017
The estate dates to 1971, but rose to real prominence in the early ‘90s after founder René Rostaing inherited a treasury of prime vineyards from two of Cote Rotie’s early giants; his father-in-law, Albert Dervieux, and uncle, Marius Gentaz. René’s son, Pierre, today tends over 7.5ha of vines in 14 climats, including some of Côte Rôtie’s most revered vineyards such as La Landonne, Côte Blonde, La Viallière, and Côte Brune. Winemaking follows the classical model. Up to 100% of the stems are used depending on vintage and ripeness. An extended, gentle maceration is followed by aging in a mix of pièce and demi-muid, with only about 10-15% new.
In the late 1990s, René and his wife purchased a property in the Côteaux du Languedoc near Nîmes. The estate, originally named Puech Chaud, is now known as Puech Noble. Located on a small plateau, the ground is covered with galets roulés – rounded stones – very similar to those found in parts of nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape. At 150m higher than most of Châteauneuf, however, Puech Noble is significantly cooler and offers a fresher character in its wines. The estate gave the Rostaings a chance to produce Syrah on the limestone soils so beloved by many French growers. Bolstered with small amounts of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Rolle, Puech Noble is today producing some of the South’s most beautiful wines.
Vintage chart for Languedoc 2017: A cold winter was followed by unusually warm weather in February, March and early April; then, most unusually for Languedoc, frost struck the vineyards [though Roussillon was spared, and in the end had a larger-than-usual harvest]. Aude, Hérault and Gard were all badly hit, with crop levels down by 20-30% [around 1 million hl less than usual], and with IGP vineyards worse hit than AOP vineyards [which mainly lie on the hills, and therefore enjoy better air drainage]. Summer was then bright and sunny, and the surviving crop provided an early harvest, with some Muscats being picked as early as the end of July. Quality was good, rising to excellent in the Roussillon [where more sea breezes and less tramontane wind than usual helped temper the heat and minimise grape dessication].