Viticulture

A constant search for precision
Yves pays extra-special care to the quality of his vines, and rejects “off-the-shelf ideas”. His vision of viticulture is highly personal: not conventional, not organic, and not biodynamic. He has a simple philosophy: “Grow the best possible grapes.”

As our vineyards cannot be mechanised, much labour is required and the vines receive “haute couture” treatment. Careful management of the growth cycle is another hallmark of distinguished savoir-faire. Low vine vigour, leaf-thinning and green harvesting allow maximum ventilation, reduce sensitivity to disease, and improve grape quality. All our grapes are grown to integrated methods and carry no certification labels – in other words, no standards or regulations constrain our conception of wine.

This approach to grape-growing takes the form of respectful manual treatment. We carry out the fewest treatments possible – three to five per year. No insecticides and only small amounts of organic fertiliser define a unique method that deeply respects the balance of our soils. Such consideration is essential, and a prerequisite for a promising future.

Vines

A remarkable place
The northern Rhône Valley: a stretch of wine country where the river sets the tempo. The river shapes a fold of land that hugs the vineyards and confers their authenticity, their point of origin. Narrow gorges, sheer slopes, tremendous terraces. Amid this arresting geography, the vines stand firm and offer sumptuous wines. The Rhône has given Cuilleron the vigneron his home port, and his plantations drink deep in its exceptional bank. 

Exceptional soils
Nature does nothing by chance. In this steep-sided part of the Rhône Valley, the first vine-leaf imprints date back seven million years. Vienne was already famed for its wines in the second century BC. Vines grew on the uplands, where the soil was thinnest. There is a pleasing geological unity here, dominated by granite. On the west bank (Côte-Rôtie), the gneiss and micaceous schists make for rugged landscapes; the granite and alluvium (Condrieu and Saint-Joseph) have produced softer scenery. On the east bank, there is the same subsoil in the central part of the vineyards. In the north and south, the vineyards sit chiefly on Quaternary alluvial terraces comprising Pliocene or Miocene clay-rich sediments.

Winemaking

Tradition and simplicity

For decades, the domaine has undertaken traditional, straightforward vinification. Cuilleron’s main ingredients? Hand picking of grapes, meticulous sorting in situ, alcoholic fermentation using only wild yeasts, and ageing in oak.

The business may be growing, but remains deeply attached to the traditional principles of cap-punching and open-vat pumpovers. We use no oenological products, and technology is kept to the bare minimum.

Yves articulates his vision of the terroir through the wines he makes. From plot to bottle, many decisions are required to express this vision and arrive at wines that satisfy his expectations. A Cuilleron wine bears the imprint of its terroir: it has an original character. Although a large vat room has been built, we have kept many small vats used for single-plot vinification. Although Yves seeks an overarching harmony in the range, the Cuilleron touch lends each wine its own style. We do not focus on a single cuvée and establish a hierarchy; instead, each product is bespoke – the word that best defines us.

Changes to the range

2015

For the year 2015, our range was reworked, and enhanced with cuvées based on a lieu-dit, or locality. We have always vinified each plot separately, to give full expression to the typicity of each terroir. The resulting wines were then blended to impart a distinct identity to each cuvée.

The company has many small plots in various northern Rhône Valley terroirs. The experience we have gained over time, making multiple vintages, has allowed us to define the typicity of each of these terroirs. Consumers are increasingly knowledgeable, and they seek excellence. In our view, the lieux-dits of the northern Rhône Valley vineyards are the equivalent of the grands crus and premiers crus of Burgundy. We have full confidence in our rich and diverse terroir – as reflected in our new single-locality cuvées. Although there are plans to add a few more localities, the idea is not to substantially extend the range but to more intensely highlight our terroirs.

Discover our new cuvées