Châteauneuf-du-Pape – La Côte Ronde
One of Autard’s top wines, La Côte Ronde comes from a parcel of vines that are between 75 and 90 year old. They are planted in stony, fossil-rich soil on a dome-shaped hill (hence the name “Côte Ronde”), in the Le Mourre de Gaud lieu-dit, on the plain between the village of Châteauneuf and Courthézon. The blend is 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah (from sandy soil). 14.5% alcohol.
The Côte Ronde parcel is vinified separately and is aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. It is an intensely concentrated, lush-textured wine with vivid dark fruit, spice, chocolate and oak flavors. Autard only makes this cuvée in top years. It has consistently received 90+ scores from Parker since its inception.
About the Producer
Jean-Paul Autard carries on the tradition established by Paul Autard when he founded the domaine in the village of Courthézon in the 1970's. He took over very early, at 17 year old, after his father passed away. His daughter Pauline now works with him.
Autard has 26 hectares of vines, of which 12 are in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 14 in Côtes-du-Rhône (located at the border of the Châteauneuf appellation in Courthézon.) The aging cellar is a massive, vaulted cave cut into sandstone rock, housing the domaine’s barriques. The Autards feel privileged to have inherited a domaine in which the plantations of different varieties are perfectly adapted to the soil types - ranging from galets roulés, pebble and clay, to sandy-clay. They aim to get the most out of each variety by vinifying separately and then blending judiciously. The grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. After the malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to barriques for aging, about one third of which are new for the regular cuvée of Châteauneuf and 100% new for La Côte Ronde and Juline. Since 2004, Jean-Paul has been working in his new state-of-the-art winery, which allows him greatly enhanced control over all phases of winemaking, and a concomitant increase in quality. His unique style, fusing elegance, balance and generously expressive Châteauneuf-du-Pape flavor, has won his wines an international following.
Farming/vinification practices: sustainable farming. Jean-Paul aims to achieve a perfect balance between the soil and the vine. He does not need to green harvest because his vines are on average over 50 year old. The vines’ age, together with the limited use of only organic fertilizer, naturally ensures low yields and concentrated, balanced fruit. No pesticides, chemical anti-rot products or fertilizers are used. The health of the vineyard is ensured by meticulous work by hand, such as the removal in May and June of unessential shoots and leaves that would block the proper aeration of the vines. Jean-Paul is able to eliminate the possibility of problems such as rot and mildew by not allowing humidity to remain on the grapes and leaves. In a few years, him and Pauline will start uprooting some vines to replant 5% to 10% every year. Indigenous yeasts are used most of the time, but inoculation may be required in a difficult vintage. The grapes are 100% destemmed. The wines are vegan.
Domaine Paul Autard
Vinous: Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc moving out of the shadows - June 2017