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Francois Merlin, Condrieu 'Terroirs', France 2017
Francois and Laurent Merlin
François planted his vines by selection massale in 1990 and has various small holdings on some of Condrieu's finest terroirs. Aged in a mix of Stockinger 500 ltrs demi-muids and new to 6 year old barrels, this has real depth of apricot and pear fruit, with hints of verbena and floral notes, is clean and very well defined on the palate and long on the finish which is stamped by an attractive gout de terroir.
Pressing for 2h by a pneumatic press, cold settling of the juice for 48hrs. No chaptalisation. Fermentation in 1 to 5 year old 500L barrels at 17degrees C average (20 degrees C max) using natural, indigenous yeasts. Alcoholic fermentation for 10 days. Temperature is controlled using a cooling cane. The wine naturally carries out its malolactic fermentation. Aged for 12 months in 1 to 5 year old 225L and 500L barrels (medium heat). Collage with bentonite, generally light filtration by Kieselghur. Only one bottling a year in September by a service provider. 5.200 bottles produced on average
François Merlin is a self-taught winemaker who has been living in St-Michel-sur-Rhône since 1989, a commune just south of Condrieu, along the right bank of the Rhône river, at the heart of the appellation. François learned about painstaking viticulture in the vineyards of Domaine René Rostaing while studying agriculture, and planted his first vines by sélection massale in 1989, on a south-east facing slopes in a mix of granite and decomposed gneiss soils.
He is dedicated to making his wines with great care and thought and aims for low yields of 35hh, harvesting is carried out by hand while vinification and élevage occur in Stockinger 500ltr demi-muids with some new to 6yo barrels. His ‘Terroirs’ cuvée comes from 1.5ha of vines averaging 30yo from three lieu-dits: Roncharde just north of Condrieu, Chanson in Chavanay and Poncins in St-Michel-sur-Rhône. It has a marked goût de terroir with more finesse and freshness than many Condrieu. He was joined full-time by son Laurent in 2013, who has helped to push the vineyard care to a new level.
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