Notes from Somm Select:
"In nearly three decades, Pierre Bénetière has transitioned from protégé to respected winemaker, but it hasn’t come easy. His few acres, excluding a small parcel in La Turque (made famous by E. Guigal’s single-vineyard bottling, of which can exceed $1,000) were devoid of vines when he first purchased them. So, in either a raving mad or resolutely passionate attempt, he began farming the precipitous hillsides of Côte-Rôtie from scratch. Pierre recalls his past: “My friends said it was an impossible task, to get land cleared and planted for vines, then to make the wine...that got me going.” As a result, he didn’t turn a profit for roughly 15 years while his wife worked to help them stay afloat. Pierre is a pure example of someone who is driven by love of vine and his wines personify that.
“Cordeloux” comes from a ~3.5 acre plot climat named “Corps de Loup” in the southern part of Côte-Rôtie. As mentioned, these steep terraces were carved out and subsequently planted by Pierre decades ago—vines are now nearing 30 years of age. Soils here are largely granite with schist and sand. This is locally known as “arzelle,” famous in neighboring Condrieu. Pierre’s philosophy for viticulture is simple: “The less I go in the vineyard, the better for me.” He has practiced organic farming for 15 years now and has always hand harvested—the steep terrain requires it. In the winery, grapes are left on their stems and fermentation is triggered with natural yeasts. Pierre makes two Côte-Rôtie wines, the other called “Dolium,” which is a two-barrel production from the famous “La Turque” vineyard. One of these barrels is blended into today’s “Cordeloux,” so you’re getting fruit that is typically priced multiples higher in the hands of other producers (e.g. Guigal). The wine ages in mostly used oak (15% new) for 18-22 months and to further cement his traditional style, Pierre adds 5% Viognier into the final blend for enhanced aromatics. The wine is bottled without fining or filtering."