Robert Parker 92 Points: "Less aromatic and nuanced but more powerful than the 2019 version, the 2018 Cote Rotie Blonde du Seigneur is full-bodied, supple and rich, with ample black cherry and blackberry fruit, a velvety mouthfeel and a long, mouthwatering finish. It's still a delicious mouthful of Cote Rotie that should drink well for more than a decade.
Picking hadn't yet commenced when I stopped into this historic domaine on the morning of Sunday, September 19th, 2021. Christine Vernay thought the harvest was likely to commence the following day. "This year has traumatized people," she said. "Slopes that have never been frosted—not in my or my father's time—have been frosted. There was a lack of water until April, and since then it has rained, rained, rained. I'm just happy that the grapes we have left on the vines are healthy." With that cautionary note about the 2021s in mind, what I was able to taste from 2018–2020 is certainly very fine. Vernay described the 2019 vintage as an easy vintage. "It was sunny in the first part of the year, then dry, with a bit of drought in July." But, said Vernay, 10 centimeters of rain in August refreshed the vines, and a few small rains after that with good weather in between led to a trouble-free harvest commencing in mid-September. The 2020 vintage marked only the third time the harvest here has begun in August, on the 26th (the other years were 2001 and 2003). Vernay says it was another reasonably easy year, but allows that she prefers the structure shown by the 2019s. Tasting first through the Condrieus, Vermay said, "Viognier doesn't have acidity, but these wines have a sort of salinity that's fresh and provides balance." To paraphrase my clunky translation: Les Chaillées is generally more exuberant, seductive, exotic and round; Coteaux de Vernon expresses the majesty of the slope—spice, menthol, longer in shape on the palate, combining depth and elegance. In Côte Rôtie, the vines are in the southern sector, where, said Vernay, "Syrah has a delicate expression. Spice, violets, pepper—that's what I'm looking for. The quality of these wines is expressed by depth, not power." From vines in Condrieu, Saint-joseph and Cote Rotie, Vernay's signature is one of elegance, with the whites showing excellent poise and the reds dominated by red fruit and silky textures. With Vernay's daughter Emma returning to work at the domaine, there appears to be another generation waiting to continue this historic estate's tradition of excellence."