Bernard Burgaud Cote Rotie 2013
Bernard Burgaud is one of the more understated producers of the Côte-Rôtie appellation, making just one wine from 100% Syrah. After inheriting the family business from his father in 1980, Bernard began bottling his wine in 1982. As of 2019, his son Pierre continues the family’s legacy as the winemaker for the domaine.
Perched atop a steep hill overlooking Ampuis, they produce 1,000 cases a year from nine hectares of vines planted in several lieux-dits in the appellation, the majority from the Les Moutonnes and Côte Blonde vineyards. Resisting the trend towards bottling individual plots, it has long been the belief that is utilizing all the terroirs in just one wine results in a more complete and balanced wine. Their vineyards in the Côte Brune provide power and muscularity, and those in the Côte Blonde bring finesse and elegance.
In a nod to the estate’s blend of traditional and modern techniques, the vineyards carry the Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE) sustainability certification. Grapes are vinified without stems, and the wines age in 20% new barriques for 15 months. These classic, well-balanced wines taste of black fruit and olives with earthy and rustic flavors. They are meant to be aged, developing into elegant wines.
With Pierre’s ascension to head of the estate, he brings a fresh new perspective, interrogating his father’s practices while also respecting his traditions. This is a hidden gem of a winery that’s run by a steady hand and represents the soul of the region.
The cultivation of vines here began with Greek settlers who arrived in 600 BC. Its proximity to Vienne was important then and also when that city became a Roman settlement but its situation, far from the negociants of Tain, led to its decline in more modern history. However the 1990s brought with it a revival fueled by one producer, Marcel Guigal, who believed in the zone’s potential. He, along with the critic, Robert Parker, are said to be responsible for the zone’s later 20th century renaissance.
Where the Rhone River turns, there is a build up of schist rock and a remarkable angle that produces slopes to maximize the rays of the sun. Cote Rotie remains one of the steepest in viticultural France. Its varied slopes have two designations. Some are dedicated as Côte Blonde and others as Côte Brune. Syrahs coming from Côte Blonde are lighter, more floral, and ready for earlier consumption—they can also include up to 20% of the highly scented Viognier. Those from Côte Brune are more sturdy, age-worthy and are typically nearly 100% Syrah. Either way, a Cote Rotie is going to have a particularly haunting and savory perfume, expressing a more feminine side of the northern Rhone.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”