Cote Rotie from Domaine Pichat

Domaine Pichat is a welcome new addition to TWH portfolio. David had been searching for a Côte Rôtie producer to import for some time now, so finding young winemaker Stéphane Pichat’s tiny production of classic Northern Rhônes was an especially exciting discovery. Stéphane’s wines are the real deal and fairly priced given their exceptional quality.The 2011 Côte Rôtie Löss is Domaine Pichat’s newest cuvée and is a wine that can be appreciated at an early stage. I was blown away by its meaty, smoky palate – a characteristic of Syrah that speaks to me of classic Côte Rôtie. My first inclination was that some of that smoke came from barrel, but this wine sees no new oak and only spends time in 1 and 2 year old barrels. The flavors of the fruit exhibit plush red and black plum, juicy red berries and a strip of peppery vibrancy. I was reminded of a conversation I once had with a winemaker who described Syrah as a ballerina who can kick-box. The 2011 Côte Rôtie Löss is a perfect example of this dichotomy; on one hand it has elegance and polish and on the other it has meatiness and smokiness delivered with formidable structure. 
Stéphane Pichat began making wine from his family’s vineyards in 2000. It’s a typical story: the family used to sell their wine to the local co-op until Stéphane put an end to it. In fact, David relayed a story to us that Stéphane’s grandfather used to sell his wine to the local watering hole. Can you imagine walking into a bar, ordering the house red and getting Côte Rôtie?!!!With only 4 hectares of vine, the estate produces less than 2000 cases annually. The 2011 Côte Rôtie Löss is comprised of 2 parcels, Cognet and Fongeant, with a third, Gerine, soon to be added. All the sites used at Domaine Pichat are Côte Brune, which is the area north of the town of Ampius. Domaine Pichat, though relatively new and unknown to a wider Rhône drinking audience, is gaining reputation for its quality wine among wine writers and point-oriented publications. Getting in early with a producer like this is key; David has done it again!
As the nights stretch longer and temperatures dip quickly with the fading light, my desire for fuller, more impactful reds gets stronger. A Côte Rôtie such as the 2011 Löss would balance nicely with braised lamb or slow and low-cooked pork roast but isn’t so brute that it couldn’t match up with plate of roasted root vegetables piled on grain pilaf. Celebrating 15 years of marriage tonight! A romantic dinner out with my husband and daughter is the plan. Not knowing what I might order, bringing along the 2011 Côte Rôtie Löss would cover a wide range of options and is the way I’ll probably roll tonight as the wine I bought from our wedding year are stored out of reach. Tomorrow I’ll be joining the parade at the San Anselmo Country Fair Day. Always a lot of good hometown fun for all! —Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Rhone Valley, Syrah

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