Trail blazing wines from Rhone showcased at ely

Stéphane Ogier Domaine Ogier, Northern Rhône

Our first Regional Hero is the young Stéphane Ogier of Domaine Ogier in the Northern Rhône. Aged 33, Stéphane is already a hero for the Rhône Valley. He showed great promise from an early age, receiving 100 points from Robert Parker for his Côte-Rôtie ‘Belle Helene’ 1999 when he was only 22 but it is in recent years that his talent has begun to mature into a confident, consistent brilliance.

Having studied in Beaune it is clear where his main influence lies. His great Côte-Rôtie ‘Lancement’ is (half) jokingly referred to as his “Musigny”. Stéphane feels much greater affinity with Pinot Noir and Burgundy than he does with the Grenache based wines of the Southern Rhône. His believes Syrah in the Northern Rhône is at it’s best when expressing cool, elegant fruit flavours of cassis, black cherries and violets with fresh acidity, fine tannins and lower alcohol levels. Much of his success however is not due to his brilliance in Côte-Rôtie but to his exploration and development of the undervalued areas of Vin de Pays in the Northern Rhône. And it is because of his La Rosine and L’Ame Soeur that we at ely think Stéphane is very definitely a Regional Hero.

Here he has looked beyond the obvious with new vineyard locations, breaks the rules with top quality syrah from the “wrong side of the tracks” and honours the brilliance of syrah by maintaining sheer quality. Here we have selected a shortlist ……

1. Viognier ‘La Rosine’, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes 2008 €36 per bottle and €9 per glass

Barrel fermented Viognier from the La Rosine vineyard situated between Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu. This is beautiful. Medium-bodied with dramatic aromas of pineapple, apricot and citrus fruit a wonderfully refreshing acidity and is great on its own.

2. Condrieu 2007 €49 per bottle and €12.25 per glass

Stéphane has had many years experience growing Viognier but this is his first vintage of Condrieu, the world’s only Viognier specific appellation. Also barrel fermented but exhibiting aromas of honey, stewed apricots and red apples. There is a tremendous underlying minerality from the granite soils.

3. Syrah ‘La Rosine’, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes 2008 €39 per bottle  and €9.75 per glass

This wine is Stéphane’s ‘Cheval de Bataille’ (war horse) –this is the epitome of what he is trying to achieve – 100% Syrah it is tremendously elegant, displaying flavours of cassis, raspberries and black pepper. It has a silkiness and texture than is reminiscent of a Burgundy Pinot Noir.

4. Syrah ‘L’Ame Soeur’, Seyssuel, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes 2007 €49 per bottle and €12.25 glass

L’Ame Soeur (kindred spirit) is the fruit of Stéphane’s most exciting, recent project. Romans first developed the vineyards of Seyssuel two thousand years ago. The mica-schist soil here is the same as that of the northern sector of Côte-Rôtie. This barrel aged wine has many of the characteristics of a Côte-Rôtie – dark, pure, silky fruit flavours with an intense mineral core.

5. Côte-Rôtie 2006 €79 per bottle and €19.75 per glass

Stéphane’s Côte-Rôtie comes from a blend of Syrah grapes grown on different parcels of vineyard on both the Côte Blonde (granite soil) and the Côte Brune (mica-schist). It is a hugely complex wine with aromas of black olives, black cherries, black currants and spice overlaid with a certain smokiness. It is wonderfully fine and possibly the most elegant of all Côte-Rôtie’s being produced today.

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