miércoles, 24 de julio de 2013

Clos des Grives Domaine Combier (Crozes Hermitage - Northern Rhône Valley)


- Vineyards: 22 ha in Crozes Hermitage AOC (variety: Syrah). 2 ha in Crozes Hermitage AOC (varieties: Marsanne, Roussanne). Old alluvium soils with pebbles. 1 ha in SAINT JOSEPH AOC RED (variety: Syrah), granitic soil. Vineyard run under organic label since 1970.

- Cellar: Grapes are hand-picked, sorted, received by conveyor belt, and fully destemmed. Vinified in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats. Long maceration: about 25 days. Aged in recent barrels and concrete vats.

- Crozes Hermitage Red Wines:
• Cuvée Clos des Grives: Syrah (100%), concentrated and powerful. Drink between 3-15 years. Vine age: 55 years, oldest on estate, low yields.
• Cuvée Domaine Combier: Syrah (100%), drink between 1-6 years for its fruit and balance. Vine age: 25 years on average.
• Cuvée Laurent Combier: Syrah (100%), drink young for its crispness. Vine age: less than 10 years.

- Crozes Hermitage White Wines:
• Cuvée Clos des Grives: Roussanne (90%), Marsanne (10%), powerful and mineral. Vine age: 80 years.
• Cuvée Domaine Combier: Marsanne (80%), Roussanne (20%), delicate fruit and harmony. Vine age: 20 years.

- Saint Joseph Red Wine:
• Cuvée Domaine Combier: Syrah (100%), mineral and spicy. Vine age: 18 years.

- History: The Combier family’s Rhone Valley origins date back to 1936. Indeed this is the year when Laurent’s grandfather Camille, came down from Ardeche and bought a property with 3 hectares under vine and a 4-hectare apricot grove in the village of La Roche de Glun.

In the 1960s, Laurent's parents, Maurice and Paulette, established themselves as farmers in the neighbouring district of Pont de l’Isère. Then in 1970, during a difficult economic period for vintners, they decided to heavily invest in fruit growing.

They were more passionate about viticulture than winemaking, and so remained members of the Tain L’Hermitage cooperative winery until 1989. At the time, the estate had a 5-hectare vineyard, including a parcel dating back to 1952, this would later become Le Clos des Grives in 1990, and a 15-hectare peach and apricot orchard.

- Laurent Combier: Laurent Combier, a graduate in viticulture and oenology, is fond of grape growing, but also a wine lover. As a result, he decided in 1990 to build a cellar on the estate in view of becoming an entirely independent winemaker. His parents followed his lead without any hesitation.

- 2010: The property recently celebrated its 40th year of organic growing. Twenty-five hectares of vines extend across the estate, chiefly represented by Le Clos des Grives, and as always along side a 25-hectare fruit grove. Laurent driven by his passion for winegrowing is currently continuing on his own, in the footsteps of his parents. He knows that one-day he will pass this heritage on to his sons.

- The 1970s: After years of hard labour and manual work, viticulture discovered the benefits of technological progress, productivity, and clones, making however, wines all tasting the same. In France finesse was often sacrificed in the name of quantity. At the risk of being perceived as crazy, Maurice Combier a pioneer in organic growing, did exactly the opposite and never changed his convictions.

- 40 Years of organic growing: At the end of the 1960s, Maurice Combier had an allergic reaction to a phytosanitary product. The anecdote ended up entirely orientating the rest of his life as a farmer; He asked himself questions and heard one day about "living soil" During the winter of 1969-1970, he dived into the deep end and changed half of his property over to organic growing, a concept at the time in its infancy. This was not a problem, as he taught himself how to cultivate the soil, and persisted despite two hard years (the frost in 1975 and the drought in 1976). He learnt from all his mistakes. It took until the 1980s to entirely fine-tune the estate's organic growing techniques. Both a forerunner and a visionary, Maurice became an example to follow. As a result, Laurent was born into an organic environment, making it impossible for him to envisage any other avenue.

- The vines: Today the 25-hectare vineyard is entirely organic. Laurent is continuing his father's work and now it is his turn to ask himself questions in view of improving upon his practices. The most robust vine-plants are used for his new and renewed plantations, thereby preserving the grape varieties'special characteristics. Everything is a question of balance and of precision. Each vineyard intervention is more or less adjusted to the character of the soils, to the lunar calendar and to living organisms. Nature governs each gesture and not vice versa.

- Crozes Hermitage: The estate is situated at the heart of the Crozes Hermitage appellation, representing most of its production, that is to say 22 hectares. Before 1952, the year when the AOC zone was revised, there was only scrubland to the south. The two extreme limits of the appellation are situated on the estate. On the northern side in the districts of Gervans and of Serves-sur-Rhone, the Syrah is planted on a parent rock dose to the surface and granite soils offering good drainage. On the southern side on the Chassis plateau, the vines are planted on chalky-limestone soils covered with smooth pebbles. This diverse range of soils is a major asset offering choices when it comes to blending and to producing wines with unique characteristics.

- Le Clos des Grives: This parcel surrounded by hedge of bushes currently represents 9,5 hectares in the southern area of Crozes-Hermitage. It is the historic part of the estate. The oldest vines within this closec section - about 4 hectares- were planted in 1952. On of its parcels belonged to Laurent´s grandfather. In the 1960´s, when the appellation was consolidated, Maurice bought the land around it, built the estate and extended this closed section. Le Clos des Grives first appeared on the estate´s bottles in 1990. A small part of this vineyard -2.5 hectares- produces white wine from the Marsanne and Roussanne grape varieties. Sharing the same name as the parcel, Le Clos des Grives, is the estate´s haute-couture wine.

- Saint-Joseph: 1990 marks a pause in the estate´s history. Indeed this is the year when Laurent crossed the Rhone to rent a hectare of Saint Joseph in the district of Saint Jean de Muzols at the heart of the appellation. Its terrois - comprising typically granite soils from the Massif Central - are superb. Laurent decided to plant Syrah in this location.

- An adventure in Priorat: 1990 marks a pause in the estate’s history. Indeed this is the year when Laurent crossed the Rhone to rent a hectare of Saint Joseph in the district of Saint Jean de Muzols at the heart of the appellation. Its terroirs - comprising typically granite soils from the Massif Central - are superb. Laurent decided to plant Syrah in this location.

- The spirit: What is great wine, according to Laurent? It is the fruit of vine growing entirely respecting an area´s terroir. Indeed, blanced quality grapes are required to make wines that are at once harmonious, deep, fresh and refined. No winemaking tricks are used, including over extraction. The fruit must be immediately expressive. Laurent loves "cheerful and seductive wines" and does not belive in the myth that wine has to be austere in its youth to become excellent at its peak: "A great wine has to be good at the beginning, at the middle and at the end!"

- The manner: Years of experience and of observation have increased his expertise. His entire reflection always starts with Syrah, as this grape variety needs time to fully express its qualities. The work carried out in the cellar perfectly illustrates a constant quest for what is best for the wines. Laurent opted for temperature regulated stainless steel vats in 1990: “Stainless steel is hygienic and practical." This investment was followed by concrete amphora shaped vats in 1999: ‘They produce a brownian motion and a better suspension of the lees, thereby accentuating the finesse of the tannins." The cellar was extended in 2001 to make room for more new concrete vats: “They allow for gentle cap punching and the slow gradual addition of oxygen to our wines. ” Oak barrels or vats have always traditionally played a role in the cellar for all of their natural qualities in terms of oxygenation. Each wine made by Laurent is the right combination of all of these choices.


- The styles: "The finesse of great Burgundy Pinot Noirs is magical, I want muy own wines to offer the same special quality. I also love their straightforward character".

Even if each wine maintains its own distinct style, they all express frankness and fruity elegance, as well as aromas and tannins.

- The reds: Crozes-Hermitage appellation, La Cuvée Laurent Combier called Cuvée L, was first created in 1999. Chiefly made from young vines, this is an accessible wine, elaborated by Laurent to please every type of palate. Each vintage boasts fresh, fruity and full flavoured characteristics.

Crozes-Hermitage appellation, Le Classique Domaine Combier, epitomises the estate as well as this appellation. Structure, melted tannins and round fruitiness: these qualities come from the smooth and warm pebbles that mark this terroir unlike anywhere else.

Crozes-Hermitage appellation, Le Clos des Grives, is the estate’s best wine. Like haute couture it is carefully hand made from start to finish to create a unique product. It stands out by its depth, the amplitude of its matter and the finesse of its structure. Generous in its youth, overtime it transforms into taffeta.

The Saint-Joseph wine is produced from 20-year-old vines. It is elaborated and matured in 600-litre barrels. Made according to traditional methods, entirely out of Syrah, its generous structure goes well with the juicy flesh of its fruit and its spicy aromas.

- The whites: Le Classique Domaine Combier is elaborated from Marsanne (85%) and Roussanne (15%). According to Laurent this is the perfect blend: “I wanted a wine suitable for dining. The exuberant personality of the Marsanne grape variety is balanced by the mineral characteristics of the Roussanne. The wine's rich fullness harmonises well with its straightforward nature.”

Crozes-Hermitage appellation, Le Clos des G rives was created in 1994 and is essentially made from Roussanne (95%). "It took me some time to fine-tune this selection of Roussanne." Ample and rigorous, fragrant and long, this is quite simply a full-flavoured wine.

White Crozes-Hermitage “Cuvée Laurent Combier” 2012

- Village: Pont de l’Isère is situated to the south of the estate Serves s/ Rhône is situated to the north of the estate.
- Terroir: Chalky-clay plateau with round pebbles on the southern side; Loessic slopes on the northern side.
- Grape variety: 100% Marsanne
- Yield: 45 hectolitres / ha
- Harvest: Hand picked with selective sorting; Less than 10-year old vines
- Vinification: neumatic pressing; Vat fermentation; 8-month maturing in vats

White Crozes-Hermitage “Domaine Combier” 2012

- Village Pont de l’Isère, Gervans, Serves s/ Rhône.
- Terroir Chalky-clay with smooth pebbles on the southern side; Loessic slopes and granite slopes on the northern side.
- Grape varieties: 85 % Marsanne, 15 % Roussanne
- Yield: 42 hectolitres / ha
- Harvest: Hand picked with sorting
- Vinification: Pneumatic pressing; 60 % fermentation in oak vats; 40 % in stainless steel vats; Matured for an 8-month maturing perio

White Crozes-Hermitage “Clos des Grives” 2011

- Village: Pont de l’Isère; In the southern part of AOC Crozes-Hermitage
- Terroir: Chalky-clay plateau with smooth pebbles
- Grape varieties: 95 % Roussanne, 5 % Marsanne; Over 50-year old vines.
- Yield: 35 hectolitres / ha.
- Harvest: Hand-picked with selective sorting.
- Vinification: Pneumatic pressing; Fermentation in new oak; Regular stirring; 12-month maturing in new oak.

Red Crozes-Hermitage “Cuvée Laurent Combier” 2012

- Village: Pont de l’Isère; In the southern part of AOC Crozes-Hermitage.
- Terroir: Chalky-clay with smooth pebbles on the southern side; Loessic slopes on the northern side.
- Grape variety: 100 % Syrah.
- Yield: 45 hectolitres / ha.
- Harvest: Hand-picked with selective sorting; Less than 10-year old vineyard.
- Vinification: 20 days in temperature controlled concrete vats; Total destemming; Punching of the cap and pumping over twice daily; Maturing for 8 to 10 months in a 7-hl egg shaped concrete.

Red Crozes-Hermitage “Domaine Combier” 2011

- Village: Pont de l’Isère, Gervans, Serves s/ Rhône.
- Terroir: Chalky-clay with smooth pebbles on the southern side; Loessic slopes and granite slopes on the northern side.
- Grape variety: 100 % Syrah.
- Yield: 42 hectolitres / ha.
- Harvest: Hand picked with selective sorting.
- Vinification: 25 days in temperature controlled stainless steel vats; Total destemming; Pumping over twice daily; 12-month maturing in new oak; Blending of the three terroirs after tasting.

Red Crozes-Hermitage “Clos des Grives” 2007

- Village: Pont de l’Isère; In the southern part of AOC Crozes-Hermitage
- Terroir: Chalky-clay plateau with smooth pebbles.
- Grape variety: 100 % Syrah; Over 50-year old vines.
- Yield: 35 hectolitres / ha
- Harvest: Hand-picked with selective sorting
- Vinification: 25 days in stainless steel temperature controlled vats; Total destemming; Pumping over twice daily; Malolactic fermentation in casks; 12-month maturing in new oak; Each vat is tasted on a monthly basis.

Domaine Combier
RN7 26600 Pont-de-l'Isère
Tél : +33(0)4 75 84 61 56   Fax: +33(0)4 75 84 53 43
E-mail: domaine-combier@wanadoo.fr
Web: www.domaine-combier.com


Crozes-Hermitage is a French wine Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the northern Rhône wine region of France. The appellation is the largest in the northern Rhone, and its wines are less highly regarded than those from the nearby appellations of Côte-Rôtie or its near-namesake Hermitage. Most of the wines produced here are red wines made from the Syrah grape, sometimes blended with small quantities of white Roussanne or Marsanne grapes. Some white wines are also made, based on Marsanne and/or Roussanne.

- History: In 1846, a panel of tasters commended the wine for its likeness to Hermitage wines. The appellation was officially defined in 1937 and was expanded in 1952.

- Climate and geography: Crozes-Hermitage, along with the rest of northern Rhône has a continental climate that differs from its southern neighbour, which has a more Mediterranean climate. Winters are wet and marked by the cold le mistral winds that can last into the Spring. The appellation is fairly large by Northern Rhône standards, with its 1,238 hectares accounting for approximately half of the entire region's 2,400 hectares.The appellation's boundary begins around 10 km north of Tain-l'Hermitage, extends around the village of Gervans with its south - and south - western granite slopes and then spreads south around Larnage where the land flattens and consists of more clay. Approaching Tain and the village of Mercurol the land rises again and the appellation spreads east. In this region, the soil is mostly rocks, sand and clay. Just south of Tain galets roulés, small surface stones also found extensively in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhône, appear. The southernmost part of the appellation is flat and newly planted.

- Grapes and wine: As with the northern Rhône in general, Crozes-Hermitage produces primarily red wines, with Syrah the only red grape permitted under appellation rules. The rules allow the addition of up to 15% white grapes, Marsanne and Roussanne. These two grape varieties are also used to make up the white wines that are made in the appellation. The more notable vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage include Les Chassis, Les Sept Chemins and Les Meysonniers.

Many of the red wines are relatively light and intended for early drinking, while others will keep and improve in bottle for several years

- Winemaking: Crozes-Hermitage is notable for the large amount of cooperative wine. Cave de Tain, a large cooperative, takes half of the grapes grown and another large producer, Jaboulet, takes a big part of the other half, and also owns its own high quality vineyard sites. Although as noted a small amount of white grapes can be included when making red wines, more and more pure Syrah wines are being made.

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