Christian Rouchier St Joseph 'La Chave'
Region: Saint Joseph, Northern Rhone
Christian & Martine Rouchier run a tiny 2.5ha estate working with old vines planted in a mix of gneiss and clay over schist, high up on the hills above Saint-Jean-de-Muzols, a cooler area with vineyards facing west. They use whole bunches for the fermentation, old barrels and demi-muids (8 to 20yo), a manual basket press, and after an initial trial using no sulphur in 2014, and a larger trial in 2015, they decided their wines were stable and strong enough not to need any from 2016.
Christian and Martine’s top cuvée comes from 1ha of vines planted in 1958 straight onto gneiss in the lieu-dit of La Chave. The juice is naturally a little denser and firmer than 'Luc' in the same vintage, and the wine will benefit from a few years further bottle age. Aged in old barrels with no added sulphur at any stage, the wine offers ripe wild blackberries, a hint of black pepper, and a mineral cut with a very long finish.