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Intro: Northern Rhône

Many of these beautiful wines are produced from tiny terraced vineyards that cling precariously to the hillsides bordering the Rhône between Saint-Péray and Vienne. The physical work demanded by these hillside vineyards is so extreme that it makes working in other viticultural areas look easy by comparison. It is physically practically impossible for a family to work a vineyard of much more than seven or eight hectares. 

The Duclaux family in the southern sector of Côte-Rôtie, where the thin, sandy, granitic and gneiss derived soil is very prone to erosion, spend on average 1000 hours a year just repairing the walls lining the terraces. There has to be a degree of balancing compensation for all this effort. And it’s not in terms of a vast income – the Duclaux family have six full-time employees for five and a half hectares of vines, from which they produce 19,000 bottles only a year. Charging prima facie a relatively high price per bottle simply enables them to earn a very modest income. Instead, the compensation for Gripa, Gonon, Duclaux, Blanc, Perret, Gilles, Garon and Merlin is that they produce some of the finest, most elegant terroir driven wines emanating from France today.

The Northern Rhône has enjoyed a run of excellent recent vintages, starting with the dense, perfectly balanced 2010s, then the fruit-forward 2011s, pure-fruited, delicious 2012s, small harvest, structured 2013s, elegant supple 2014s, then flamboyantly fruited 2015s.  Given the arduous nature of the work that they put into their vineyards, they deserve every ounce of luck they receive.

Organic & Bio-dynamic

See our list of organic and bio-dynamic growers.