Located in the heart of northern Rhône in the town of Mercurol, the Domaine de la ville rouge produces wines in two appellations (AOC), as well as vins de pays wines. The top priority for Sébastien Girard and his wife remains rigorous organic viticulture. The couple is currently working on converting the estate to biodynamics , which they hope to complete in a few years. All work is performed manually: de-budding, tying-up, green harvesting, the harvest and winter pruning. The grapes are sorted in the vineyard and on cellar sorting tables for a maximum yield of 35 hectoliters per hectare. The estate produces mainly reds from the Syrah grape that dominates the northern Côtes du Rhône. The Marsanne and Roussanne varietals are used for their whites.
Le Domaine de la ville rouge is located in the Crozes-Hermitage appellation, a few kilometers from Tain l'Hermitage. The young winemaker Sébastien Girard produced his first vintage in 2006, and critics and wine lovers have been following the remarkable progress of this talented producer ever since. Many sommeliers and experts consider this estate among the best in the region. The Girards make wine in the Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph appellations.
The only 2013 that I was able to taste, the 2013 Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Paul, is an outstanding Syrah that was completely destemmed and aged all in two- to five-year-old barrels. It too has an inky purple color as well as lots of meatiness, black currants, peppery spice and vanilla oak. Showing more and more meatiness with air, this medium-bodied,...
With an average yearly rainfall of 840 mm, the northern Rhône Valley receives much more precipitation than the southern Rhône. This explains the many differences between the wines produced in these two regions. The most majestic Rhône wines – Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Hermitage –are all from the northern part. Nearby are other top quality terroirs such as Cornas, Saint-Jospeh and Crozes-Hermitage. Unfortunately, the Saint-Joseph appellation has considerably expanded since 1969 and this has led to irregularities in terms of quality compared to the original zone, which was grown on the steep granite and river banks. The best Saint-Joseph wines are located around the towns of Mauve, Glun and Tournon. On these hills, the Syrah grape expresses the minerality of the soil which is very different from that of the plains between Tournon and the Condrieu appellation.
In northern Rhône, vines are perched on hillsides of eroded granite terraces and benefit from an ideal exposure. Syrah rules over the region, but the white grape varieties Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier are also perfectly suited to the schist and mica terroirs. The Condrieu appellation has a similar soil composition, and the Viognier grown there develops a unique and intoxicating scent. Producers can add up to 20% of Viognier to the Syrah, the essential element of the wines produced in the other appellations.