Côtes du Rhône
85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, from grapes grown in several parcels just outside the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation in Courthézon. The vines average 45 year old, with the oldest being 75 year old. The grapes are all handpicked and transported to the winery in small boxes so as not to damage the fruit. Autard sorts the harvest twice, and then de-stems and lightly crushes the fruit to spontaneously begin the fermentation process by releasing the juice. Maceration and fermentation take place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks over 25 days. Autard’s tanks are equipped with a pneumatic mechanism to carry out pigeage (or punching down of the cap) to ensure optimal and gentle extraction. In addition, two pumping over operations (remontages) are carried out daily for 10 days, to enhance extraction and aerate the wine, in order to obtain a plush texture. Each of the varieties are vinified separately, assembled in late January, and aged in stainless steel tanks until bottling in late February. Autard’s Côtes-du-Rhône is a smoky, complex wine, loaded with warm raspberry fruit, showing many of the best attributes of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
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.
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 or 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. The wines are vegan.
2013 vintage notes: The cold and rainy winter of 2012-2013 continued well into the Spring of 2013. April was cool and rainy and there were only a few buds visible by mid-month. The cool weather continued into May. Flowering was late, in mid June, with significant coulure or aborted flowers. But temperatures gradually warmed and by mid-July the vineyards were in excellent health. The Syrah and Mourvèdre vines were in perfect condition. The only negative point was the diminished proportion of Grenache due to the prevalence of shot bunches - on the positive side, the Grenache grapes that did blossom ripened perfectly due to unimpeded exposure to light and air. July and August were warm and sunny with occasional Mistral and cool nights. The excellent weather continued into September. The grapes underwent veraison in early August, about one week later than in 2012 and two and three weeks later than in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The warm days and cool nights of late September brought the fruit to optimal maturity with balanced sugars and tannins. The parallel development of phenolic maturity provided complex aromas and flavors.
Domaine Paul Autard