The first time you set your eyes on the hills of Côte Rôtie, it is impossible not be overwhelmed with their beauty. The cliff-like granite hillsides seem to have burst from the Earth with vigor and violence. Only the truly dedicated would decide to make their living there. No tractor on Earth can plow these vineyards – everything has to be painstakingly done by hand. This is the place that Domaine Clusel-Roch calls home.
Based in Verenay, the northernmost village in Côte Rôtie, this tiny 3.5 hectare domaine is run by Gilbert Clusel, his wife Brigit, and their son Guillaume. Gilbert’s grandfather planted the foundation of the winery, the vineyard now known as ‘Les Grandes-Places’, in 1935 using a low yielding clone of Syrah called Serine. All subsequent plantings have been selection massale from that vineyard, a rarity in the region as higher yielding material became more prevalent. The Clusel family was also early believers in the advantages of biodynamic farming, and would become pioneers of the movement within the region as they converted fully in 1990.