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 Sarrasine" is Bonserine’s signature wine. It is a blend of 10 terroirs mostly coming from the North part of the appellation in the Côte Brune (brown slope), hence the name “Sarrasine” (translating to “Saracen”). Cote Blonde is the larger of the two hills with a terroir of sand, granite, schist rock, and limestone soils. Those elements crate a lighter colored soil than the Cote Brune. Cote Blonde is located slightly south of Cote Brune giving it a south by south east exposure. Cote Brune has is the smaller of the two hills and has a terroir of clay and iron oxide along with granite, mica, schist rock and limestone soils. Those elements create a darker colored soil than you find on the Cote Blonde. These differences in terroir explain the power and more masculine style of wine from the Cote Brune, versus the opulent, lush qualities found in Cote Blonde wines. The average age of vines is 30 years.
Varietal: 97 % Syrah complemented by 3 % Viognier, adding pretty floral notes. Cote-Rôtie is the only red cru in the Northern Côtes du Rhône to plant Viognier (up to 20%) alongside the Syrah. The Syrah produces quality wines, with rich colors and tannin content. In Côte-Rôtie, viognier complements the Syrah with finesse and aromas.
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.) 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. The wine was aged for 24 months in 600-liter oak casks named “demi-muids” (60% new)
The most forward and charming of the range, medium-bodied, this wine expresses well all the richness and complexity of a great Cote Rotie. The wine expresses dark fruit, rose, violet aromas with silky and crunchy tannins. It can age for 10 to 15 years.
2013 vintage: The spring was cold and rainy making it hard for the vines to grow. But luckily, great Summer conditions helped the vineyard be back on track. The grapes were harvested late, mid-October, but they express a fantastic phenolic maturity.
Pairing: Ideal with poultry, grilled red meat and cheese.
Score: 91 PointsJeb Dunnuck (dot com) Author: Jeb Dunnuck
In the same league as the La Vialliere, the medium-bodied, charming 2013 Cte Rtie La Sarrasine (97% Syrah, 3% Viognier) spent 24 months in 60% new and once used demi-muids. It gives up vibrant cassis and raspberry fruits, plenty of spice, violets, bacon fat, medium-bodied, and a light, elegant style on the finish. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.
Score: 91 PointsWine Enthusiast Author: Anna Lee
Soft and approachable already, this Cte-Rtie offers silky, sumptuous black-plum and fig flavors cushioned by feathery, mouthcoating tannins. Undertones of granite and violet as well as fresh acidity lend balance, but its a wine for enjoying now through 2025 rather than cellaring.
Score: 90 PointsThe Wine Advocate Author: Joe Czerwinski
The Domaine de Bonserine 2013 Cote Rotie la Sarrasine, a classic blend of ten different lieux-dits mainly from the Cte Brune, boasts a knockout nose of cracked pepper, cinnamon and clove, rounded out on the palate by flavors of blueberries and roasted meat. This medium-bodied blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier shows some tough tannins on the spicy-savory finish but not the richness of a true vin de garde, so drink in the near term.
Score: 91 PointsVinous Author: Josh Raynolds
(aged for two years in 600-liter oak barrels, 60 percent of them new) Opaque ruby. Fresh black and blue fruits and olive on the highly perfumed nose, joined by quickly emerging floral and peppery spice notes. Sappy, focused and pure, showing very good depth and focus to the boysenberry, cherry compote and vanilla flavors. At once rich and lively, finishing with good power, building tannins and lingering spice and vanilla qualities.
Score: 93 PointsWine Spectator Author: James Molesworth
Solidly built, with a core of red currant, bitter plum and raspberry coulis flavors that stretches out over slightly taut singed alder and juniper notes. Flashes of bay leaf and chestnut kick in on the finish, where a lingering iron accent has a mouthwatering feel. Best from 2019 through 2029.
The most forward, charming and medium-bodied in the lineup, the 2013 Cte Rtie La Sarrasine (97% Syrah, 3% Viognier) will see 24 months in 60% new and once used demi-muids. It shows the tinge of oak thats always present in these wines to go with plenty of sweet cassis, blackberries and licorice. Its a touch chunky at the moment.
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