Our weekly allocation takes us to the northern Rhône, where Yves Cuilleron has transformed his small family domain into a regional icon. This talented winemaker strives for overall harmony in his wines, which are known for their elegant expression and finesse.
Yves Cuilleron likes good food and fine wine and makes no secret of this. Viticulture has been in his blood for three generations, so it was only natural for him to take over the family vineyard in 1987. His grandfather, Claude Cuilleron, planted the plot in 1920 and began bottling his own wine in 1947.
Yet Yves didn’t think he’d become a winemaker in the beginning and trained for a mechanic’s diploma before setting off on military service. It was here, surprisingly, that his future vocation began to call him. In meeting Alsatian and Burgundian vignerons, he was convinced to rethink his career and began enological training. It was during this time that he reportedly met the legends Pierre Gaillard and François Villard, with whom he would go on to create the négociant Les Vins de Vienne.
Having started off with a mere 3.5 hectares, the domain has expanded over the years, now reaching 90 hectares that span the appellations of Condrieu, Saint-Péray, Saint-Joseph, Côte-Rôtie and Cornas. When Yves took over the running of the domain, he initially favoured a mechanised approach but his love of good wine led him back to a more traditional approach. He does not hold any certifications, but his vineyards are tended meticulously with the goal of producing the best possible grapes. All the work is carried out by hand and chemical additives are prohibited.
In the winery, vinification is traditional. The grapes ferment naturally, with some punching down and pumping over in open vats. The idea is to allow each cuvée to fully express its terroir of origin. To this end, Yves Cuilleron, who has always vinified his parcels separately, has begun producing “lieu-dit” cuvées since 2015. An innovative way to showcase the prestige of the Rhône region, reminiscent of the Burgundian crus system, in a way…
What the guides have to say about Yves Cuilleron
La Revue du vin de France
Yves Cuilleron possesses a rarely seen dynamism. For the past decade, he has tirelessly worked to elevate his domain […]. The domain’s finest wines, particularly the whites, express unquantifiable finesse.
bettane+desseauve (3* /5)
Yves Cuilleron is the most important vigneron in the northern Rhône, with 65 hectares and around 20 cuvées, primarily in Saint-Joseph, Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie, only in Crozes does he buy grapes.
Wines from domain Yves Cuilleron currently for sale
Aged 18 months in barrique barrels, the Syrah grapes grow in schistose soils typical of the northern part of the Côte-Rôtie appellation, and are sustainably cultivated by hand. Like the domain’s other cuvées, the grapes are vatted for 3 weeks in open thermoregulated tanks, with daily punch-downs and pump-overs. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in barrique barrels, with native yeasts. Expressive and indulgent, it offers charming aromas of stone fruits, flowers and spices. It is a well-balanced, delicate, fresh wine. Its silky texture and bite enable suitably refined pairings with white meat and aubergine caviar.
Bassenon takes its name from the creek located at the bottom of the Semons hillside (in the commune of Tupin-Semons) where the Syrah and Viognier grapes which comprise this cuvée are cultivated. The two varieties are both cultivated by hand in an environmentally friendly way in soils typical of the AOC, consisting of granite and gneiss. The grapes are harvested by hand and, upon arrival in the cellar, are sorted, crushed and partially destemmed. They are vatted for 3 weeks in thermoregulated open vats with regular punch-downs and pump-overs. They then complete their alcoholic and malolactic fermentations in barrique barrels with native yeasts. The wine is matured for 18 months in barrique barrels. This Côte-Rôtie can be enjoyed while young, or after ten years for a fuller appreciation of its secondary aromas. It is a neat, direct wine with seductive notes of red and black berries. On the palate, it delivers a sweet, fresh texture with a beautiful tannic structure.
Les Serine is a selection of old vines that owes its name to the grape the wine is made from, and is the name given locally to Syrah. It is cultivated in shallow granitic soils. It is treated without additives, and its yields are limited. The grapes are manually harvested, sorted, crushed and partially destemmed. They are tanked for three weeks in open, thermoregulated tanks, and undergo regular punch-downs and pump-overs. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in barrique barrels, with native yeasts. The wine is then matured for 18 months in barrique barrels. It is made for keeping: a little austere and closed in its youth, it reveals itself to be intensely racy and deep with time. It will reward the patient drinker with seductive notes of ripe black berries, white pepper, spices and oak. The palate is generous and dense, enhanced with a beautiful mineral palette. The tannins mellow with time, giving the wine a great fullness that enables it to pair uniquely well with fried beef rib and porcini mushrooms.
Syrah vines grow on the terraces of Cornas along the right bank of the Rhône. They are located over 250m above sea level on terraces of decomposed granite and benefit from a microclimate that gives the wine a lovely mineral framework. 5,000 bottles are produced annually from 1.2 ha of vines. The harvest is manual and the grapes are destemmed. Vinification takes place in thermo-regulated vats. There is frequent, careful pump-over and punch-down. Maximum colour is extracted. Malolactic fermentation is done in new barrels and the wine is aged in new barrels before being bottled after 18 months. Over time, this Cornas which is suitable for ageing, shows great finesse.
La Petite Côte is a 100% Viognier wine made from muscovite granite soils located in the centre of the Condrieu appellation. It enjoys a south/south-easterly terraced exposure, and sustainable cultivation by hand. Following harvesting and manual sorting, the grapes are pressed and settled. They then undergo alcoholic fermentation in barrique barrels, without racking, but with regular stirring. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in barrique barrels with native yeasts. Lastly, the wine is matured on the lees for 9 months in barrique barrels. La Petite Côte should be drunk while young and fruity, revealing all its seductively fruity notes. Honeyed touches lend a little sweetness to this gourmet, fresh, spicy wine which finishes with an attractive bitterness. It will accompany delicacies such as salmon carpaccio.
Made of only Marsanne, this white Saint-Joseph has been vinified in barriques and has been the subject to regular bâtonnage to stir the lees back into suspension. This stage, which gives the wine lovely creaminess and additional aromas, is completed by malolactic fermentation. On tasting, it presents an unparalleled flavoursome and aromatic generosity. Notes of white flowers and minerality are coated with touches of dried fruit and subtle roasting. The lingering palate ends on beautiful bitters and allows interesting gastro pairings with fish or a sauce-based white meat.
This white Saint-Péray from Yves Cuilleron is made in a quest for minerality and tension. A lovely introduction to the domain, produced from Marsanne and Roussanne grown on south-west-facing, gently sloping parcels in Saint-Péray.
Originating from a granitic and alluvial soil, the Marsanne has been grown following sustainable and respectful methods. In the cellar, the wine was subject to natural alcoholic and malolactic fermentation and the wine is aged for six months on its lees in vats and barriques. Therefore, the wine is generously aromatic. We find notes of white-fleshed fruit, citrus fruits like pomelo grapefruit and blood orange, as well as white flowers. The tasty palate is balanced by wonderful freshness and ends with lovely bitter and fine spicy touches.
This IGP Collines Rhodaniennes wine is a single-variety Syrah cultivated sustainably by hand in granitic and alluvial soils. After an alcoholic fermentation in open vats, two weeks of maceration and fermentation with natural yeasts, the wine is matured for 8 months in vats and barrique barrels. Its ruby aspect prefaces an expressive bouquet of small, tart red berries. It is a wine to be enjoyed with beef skewers served with green tapenade for maximum enjoyment of its occasionally slightly spicy aromas.