The wines from Côte Rotie are among the greatest wines in the world. Côte Rotie translates to “roasted slope” due to the amount of sunshine the steep slopes receive. The appellation is south-facing and not greatly affected by northerly winds, and has a temperate continental climate similar to that of Lyon: winters are mild, summers hot, and rainfall is regular. The “Mediterranean” influence can be felt in the “drying” southerly wind. While it proved resistant to phylloxera and other diseases, the Great War of 1914-1918 claimed 150 winemakers, meaning some of the hillsides fell out of use. In 1960, only 60 hectares of production remained, but the 1980s saw the vineyard’s revival. The appellation was given fresh impetus and acquired international renown. Almost all of the vines are planted on metamorphic rocks: pressure and temperature – which are higher in the south of the appellation – have created three different terroirs: mica schists in the north, Gneiss to the south, and migmatite at the south-eastern tip. In Côte-Rôtie, the parent rock contains a large number of fractures that provide the vines’ roots with access to the water and minerals contained therein.
Terroir: "La Garde” comes from a strict selection of the estate’s best parcels on the Côte Blonde and Côte Brune. “La Garde” was the old name of one of the best parcels used to make this wine. This parcel is now called “Côte Blonde”. The name “La Garde” (name on the cadastre) came from the ancient watchtower that stood there (considered the first castle of Ampuis, today in ruins), as shown on the front label. The parcels used to produce “La Garde” are planted with 60 to 80 year old vines’. Only produced in exceptional vintage, this is a veritable fine wine!
Vinification: Severe pruning, leaf plucking, and if necessary a green harvest, to ensure low yields of healthy ripe grapes (AOC authorizes 44hl/ha but Bonserine averages 30-35 hl/ha.). Yields for the production of “La Garde” are even lower! Hand-harvested and sorted three times to select only the best grapes. Every parcel is vinified separately and fermentation triggered by its own wild yeast. The yeast present naturally on the skin helps the terroir to express itself. At Bonserine, the philosophy is to work "as naturally as possible", both in the vineyard and in the cellar. All vineyard work is conducted following sustainable practices; in all its vineyard farming, no herbicides, chemicals or pesticides are employed. Maceration lasts four weeks; the goal is to do more pump-overs than punch-down in order to extract the noblest tannins. Aged in 228- liter new oak barrels for an extended period of 3 years.
Deep dark color, this wine reveals aromas of cocoa, mocha, plums, dark fruit and pepper. This earthy and meaty wine is opulent with a great finesse, smooth tannins and a long finish. This wine is ideal for ageing!
2012 vintage: Flowering happened late and irregularly throughout the vineyards because of strong frost in the winter. Spring was rainy but August was hot and dry, which accelerated the maturity of the grape and increase quality.
Pairing: Ideal with poultry, grilled red meat and cheese.
Score: 94 PointsJeb Dunnuck (dot com) Author: Jeb Dunnuck
The quality of the vintage shows beautifully in the 2012 Cte Rtie La Garde and this ripe, sexy beauty has integrated its oak beautifully (it spent three years in new barrels). Sexy notes of black raspberries, crushed flowers, smoked meats, and cured bacon all flow to a medium to full-bodied, expansive, voluptuous Cte Rtie that has sweet tannin, no hard edges, and tons of charm and character. Its drinking great today yet will have no problem lasting for another 10-15 years.
Score: 95 PointsWine Enthusiast Author: Anna Lee
La Garde is a blend of grapes from the producers best parcels in both the Cte Blonde and Cte Brune. Its a lavish, perfumed wine wafting of violets, leather and game. The palate is fleshy yet nuanced, pulsating with rich black cherry and plum accented by pepper, earth, smoke and bacon. It drinks gorgeously already but should improve through 2030 and hold further.
Score: 92 PointsVinous Author: Josh Raynolds
(raised in large new oak casks for three years) Deep ruby. Powerful aromas of ripe dark fruits, smoky minerals, incense and licorice, along with deeper suggestions of olive and dark chocolate. Supple and sweet on the palate, offering intense blackberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that are sharpened and lifted by a jolt of smoky minerality. Shows excellent clarity and thrust on the finish, which is shaped by supple, slow-building tannins.
Score: 95 PointsWine Spectator Author: James Molesworth
Alluring black tea and bergamot aromas lead the way, followed by an assertive, polished and fleshy core of plum, cassis and cherry preserve flavors. A long bolt of iron underneath remains well-embedded, while a lingering mesquite details adds extra range and length. Best from 2019 through 2034. From France.
Score: 94 PointsThe Wine Advocate Author: Jeb Dunnuck
The smallest production release, with roughly 300 cases made, the 2012 Cte Rtie La Garde is 100% Syrah that sees a full 36 months in new French oak. More closed, backward and tight than the other cuvees, it reluctantly gives up firm, edgy notes of black raspberry, liquid smoke and violets. Medium to full-bodied, with firm tannin and juicy acidity, its in need of 4-5 years of cellaring and will have upward of two decades of longevity.
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