Grand Saint-Cyr

  • Tiny Northern Rhône cult winery

  • Single, contiguous amphitheater of vines in the Cumelle lieu-dit in Côte Brune

  • Elegance, grace, and finesse personified

It’s not every day in the wine business that one comes across the opportunity…

to work with an entirely new property in the storied northern Rhône appellation of Côte-Rôtie. Land is famously scarce and three families collectively control more vineyard area than all of the rest of the small farmers combined. With this in mind, we were thrilled to discover a brand new story unfolding at Grand Saint-Cyr, a cult winery on a tiny, vertiginous 1.5ha site within the Cumelle lieu-dit in the Côte Brune, the northernmost part of the appellation in the commune of Saint-Cyr-sur-le-Rhône.

The site, attached to the elegant ancestral family home of siblings Aude Chapuis and Hervé Gibert since 1936, remained unplanted for over fifty years, allowing it to return to wild forest. The Cumelle vineyard was first described by Abbé Roziers in 1770 and then again by Mr Cochard in his almanac in 1820. Cumelle is a plot with such extremity of slope and difficulty of cultivation, that it was abandoned by past generations of their family. With a changing of the guard in the family, eventually Aude and Hervé were able to realize their lifelong goal of planting the site and producing wine from one of the most prestigious addresses in the northern Rhône valley.

The site was born in 2012 when Aude and Hervé reclaimed their vineyard from the forest and Grand Saint-Cyr was born. The winery was originally named after the Cumelle lieu-dit, however this ran afoul of the Côte-Rôtie appellation and the name was amended to Grand Saint-Cyr after the commune. With deep roots in the northern Rhône and the help of many famous family friends, including Yves Cuilleron as the consulting enologist for the project, their piece of forgotten terroir has finally seen the light of day.

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The site was planted in traditional goblet with three different types of old syrah clones selected for complexity and genetic diversity, highly prized, indigenous sérine clones. Viognier was also planted with respect to the traditional composition of Côte-Rôtie, playing an important role in the final blend of Grand Saint-Cyr, averaging around 10%. The result is an incredibly elegant, fresh, and energetically classic wine. Less rôtie, more fruits frais et sous-bois

Grand Saint-Cyr consists of a single, contiguous amphitheater of southeast-facing vines on a hillside where the slope can reach a 50% grade, requiring the creation of numerous handmade stone terraces and exclusively manual work of the vines. The terre brune soil of the site consists of mica and schist in which the source rock is sometimes only a foot beneath the soil. Côte-Rôtie is an unforgiving terroir and it was for these reasons that the plot was originally abandoned. The project has been farmed organically since the beginning and previously the plot was forested, so the vineyard has never seen chemical treatment. They are currently in the multi-year process of obtaining organic farming certification. Soil cultivation and harvests are carried out exclusively by hand.

The philosophy in the cellar is one of respect for the quality of their terroir, with a natural fermentation utilizing native yeasts and sulfur added judiciously at fermentation, depending on the vintage. No sulfur is added at bottling. Owing to Aude’s long relationship with the renowned Guigal family, the entirety of the production is fermented and aged exclusively in used Tonnellerie Château d’Ampuis barrels. Needless to say, the prestige of the barrels is fitting to the seriousness of the site.

The flagship Grand Saint-Cyr Côte-Rôtie is a co-fermented blend of 90% syrah and 10% viognier with the inclusion of ripe stems during fermentation. It spends 18 months in used Tonnellerie Château d’Ampuis barrels before bottling without added sulfur. With an average production of around 3,000 bottles, Grand Saint-Cyr Côte-Rôtie is a rare, glorious snapshot of a place and vintage, delivering the elegance and patience of its stewards, Aude and Hervé. If you are as big of fan of perfumed and complex northern Rhône reds as we are, Grand Saint-Cyr is a welcome addition to the pantheon of great wines of the region.


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