Pierres Sèches Syrah (Organic)
The northern Rhône is today experiencing a vinous reawakening, with a whole new generation of young talent eager to test their skills on the region’s ancient, granite slopes.
Winemaker Sylvain Gauthier of Domaine des Pierres Sèches is one artisan who already has found more than solid footing here in the Saint-Joseph appellation. He started his micro-domaine in 2007, the name “pierres sèches” inspired by the many hand-built stone walls that support vineyard terraces in the region.
Originally from northern France, Sylvain studied winemaking in Beaune. After his studies he secured a post with Michel Chapoutier, then another with Stéphane Robert in Saint-Peray, before deciding that Saint-Joseph was where he would stake a claim on his own.
Sylvain’s native talents are on full display in each and every bottle. These are wines with serious soul, deeply flavored yet effortlessly elegant, a perfect mirror for the rugged beauty of northern Rhône grapes.
Sylvain cares for his 13.5 acres of land according to organic practices, yet the estate is not certified. (Sylvain plans to pursue certification in the near future, however.) Vineyards are plowed either by horse or by hand.
Vineyard holdings include small, steeply graded plots in the communes Sarras, Arras-sur-Rhône, Vion, Ozon and crucially, in the renowned, southeast-facing lieu-dit of ‘Aubert’ on the Sainte Épine mountain in Saint-Jean de Muzols, all located in the southern portion of the Saint-Joseph appellation. The original boundaries and villages of the Saint-Joseph appellation (drawn in 1956) are located here in the south.
Sylvain also maintains Syrah vines in the commune of Sécheras, not far from his cellar in Cheminas, for his Ardèche Rouge.
Soils are mostly decomposed granite, the classic terroir of the northern Rhône valley.
Syrah is partially destemmed and fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks on indigenous yeasts. The estate Ardèche Rouge is aged in tank. Wines are filtered but not fined.
Estate vineyards of 30 year old vines are found on a high-altitude plateau in the commune of Sécheras, north of Tournon, facing south/southeast. Soils are mostly decomposed granite.
Grapes are hand-harvested, and mostly destemmed (90%); fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks on indigenous yeasts. Aged in tank. Bottled unfined, with minimal added sulfur.
Aromas of red fruit, baking spices, pepper, light licorice. Juicy, tangy and bright; as the French say, “glouglou” (too easy to drink).