LAncement, LA Belle Hélène and LA Côte Blonde: Stéphane Ogier’s LaLaLas are a must have for fine wine lovers all over the world. His very Burgundian approach to Cote Rotie, with his ‘premiers crus’ and his ‘grands crus’, was once again celebrated this week with a new 100/100 given by the American critic Jeb Dunnuck for the 2017 Cote Rotie ‘La Cote Blonde’. Within 20 years, Stéphane Ogier’s wine estate has acquired a unique status – iconic – in the same way as the Domaine de la Romanée Conti or some prestigious Bordeaux chateaux.
Right after the announcement, Stéphane Ogier commented: “Just like ‘La Belle Hélène’ which, back in 1999, scored 100 points on its third vintage, the new “Grand Cru” from the ‘La Côte Blonde’, first made from the 2015 harvest, got the top score in the 2017 vintage, also its third vintage! What an honour it is to work this incredible terroir located in the heart of the Côte-Rôtie. What a pleasure it is to share this wonderful vintage and witness the amazement on the faces of great wine-lovers each time they open a bottle. This honour I owe primarily to my father, Michel, who, in my first years as a wine-grower, bequeathed me ‘La Belle Hélène’. What goes around comes around father – enjoy! I would also like to share this honour with all my team – those who have worked hard all year long, and always with the same goal in mind: always paying attention to details!‘
For around 20 years, Stéphane Ogier has focused his work on the individual expression of the 18 terroirs or parcels that he owns in the Côte-Rôtie. Each vineyard has its own specificities with regards to soil, exposition and development. Knowing his terroirs intimately allows him, from one year to the next, to consider the different choices available and make the best decisions in terms of managing the vine as it grows, the fruit during the winemaking process and the wine as it matures, right up to the moment it is bottled. Each decision is taken depending on the personality of each terroir and according to its final expression in the glass. All these years he has not only noted a real diversity in expression, but also in quality between the different terroirs. Very early, he understood that vines planted on the hillsides in the heart of Ampuis (the origin of the Côte-Rôtie appellation before it was extended in the sixties), would reach a level of complexity and depth superior to those planted on the plateau or at the foot of the hillsides in a neighbouring town. It’s what he calls a segmentation of the cru. It’s a project that he had been keen to undertake for a number of years, and which has allowed him to establish a classification of his terroirs. In fact, for Stéphane Ogier, the Côte-Rôtie is Burgundy on a smaller scale.
Here is Jeb Dunnuck’s comment regarding the 2017 Cote Rotie ‘La Cote Blonde’: “Reminding me of a great vintage of Guigal’s Cote Rotie ‘La Mouline’ with its exotic, floral character, the 2017 Cote Rotie ‘Cote Blonde’ is an incredible achievement as well as a perfect wine. Coming from vines in the middle portion of the Cote Blonde lieu-dit, it was all destemmed and co-fermented with 5% viognier, and aged 18 months in 30% new French oak. Offering a deep, profound bouquet of black raspberries, spring flowers, camphor, bacon fat, Asian spices, and God knows what else, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a layered, multi-dimension texture, ultra-fine tannins, no hard edges, and a gorgeous finish. With an incredible mix of sexy, opulent fruit and a weightless, elegant texture, it’s a magical wine that’s already impossible to resist yet will benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for 20-25 years or more. Bravo !”