Wines by Region / Northern Rhone / Domaine Guillaume Clusel
Coteaux du Lyonnais - Guillaume Clusel
I’d been working with Gilbert Clusel and Brigitte Roch for quite a while when in 2009 they mentioned that their son Guillaume would be joining the team and slowly taking over most of the responsibilities. They also revealed that he had rented some Chardonnay and Gamay vines in the Côteaux du Lyonnais, and these wines would be Guillaume’s babies, so to speak. On my next trip to France while heading down to the Rhône from Beaujolais I stopped through this relatively new appellation to check out the vineyards and taste the wines, and was extremely impressed.
These 10 hectares of vines, managed by Guillaume, sit in the southernmost part of the Coteaux du Lyonnais (just on the border with the Rhône). Here there are two types of soil: glacial soils with large stones in the communes of Millery and Grigny, and gneiss (a rock resembling granite) in the village of Orliénas. The vines, with an average age of 30 years, are southeast facing and very densely planted. The sandy soils and large stones absorb heat and, along with the more Rhône-like climate, allow a good maturation of the Gamay grape (the only permitted red grape in this appellation). The vineyards are worked completely organically, and no insecticides or synthetic products are used.
Harvest is 100% manual, and the harvesters make 3 passes through the vineyards. The grapes are partially destemmed, and a long, slow fermentation is done using indigenous yeasts. The Traboules then ages 6 months in stainless steel, while the Galet spends 12 months in third use large oak casks. About 50,000 total bottles are produced per year.
Guillaume Clusel Coteaux du Lyonnais “Traboules”
100% Gamay from organically farmed, southeast facing vineyards. The grapes are partially destemmed, and a long, slow fermentation is done using indigenous yeasts. The wine then ages 6 months in stainless steel. 40,000 bottles made. The color is typical Gamay garnet-red, and the friendly nose gives aromas of red fruits, gooseberries and raspberries. It’s a light-bodied yet structured wine with good tannins, and its flavors of cranberry and sour raspberry make it a wonderful food wine.
Guilhaume Clusel Coteaux du Lyonnais “Galet”
100% Gamay from organically farmed, southeast facing vineyards. The grapes are partially destemmed, and a long, slow fermentation is done using indigenous yeasts. The wine then spends 12 months in third use large oak casks. 10,000 bottles made. The color is typical Gamay garnet-red, and the complex nose gives aromas of cherries, blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries and peonies. Some of those same flavors continue on the palate, with a good backbone holding it all together. Perfect with the Lyonnais cuisine: charcuterie, barbecue, or just goats cheese.
Guillaume Clusel Vin de France Blanc "Sur le Mont"
A blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Altesse and Clairette from 1 hectare of southeast-facing vines in Ampuis (pebbly soils) and Saint Cyr (loess soils). The vineyards are worked completely organically, and harvests done only by hand, with a careful sorting done right in the vineyard. The grapes are pressed and undergo a pre-fermentation cold soak. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, always with indigenous yeasts, and then the wine is aged 1 year in barriques and stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. This is a lively and fresh wine with aromas of citrus and flowers and a crisp citric profile that means it goes very well with shellfish, crustaceans, fish, goat cheese or as an aperitif.
Guillaume Clusel Saint Joseph
100% Syrah from a half-hectare parcel of vines (average age 30 years old) on granite soil, in the north of the appellation. The vineyards are worked completely organically, and harvests done only by hand, with a careful sorting done right in the vineyard. Once at the winery, the grapes are fermented by gravity using only native yeasts; they are partially destemmed. The wine is aged 1 year in 3rd-use 228-liter oak barrels. This is an elegant wine, with a strong tannic presence and a complex nose of red and black fruits and spices. Its ripe Northern Rhone Syrah flavors make it an ideal match for a charcuterie platter, grilled meat, a leg of lamb or duck.