Côte to coast


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

At our last Rhône tasting we met up with Michaël Gerin, part of a new generation of Côte-Rôtie winemakers – and son of the great Jean-Michel Gerin – to talk minerality, medals and making wine in Spain.

It’s six years since I started work at Domaine Jean-Michel Gerin. My younger brother, Alexis, started three years ago. I spend more time in the vineyard and the winery, while my brother looks after the business in the office. We are here to help our parents, and it’s pretty good.

We also have an estate in Priorat. My father, Laurent Combier (Domaine Combier, Crozes-Hermitage) and Peter Fisher (Château Revelette, Aix-en-Provence) are together known as the Trio Infernal, and this is the name they also gave to the estate in Spain. Before the year 2000 they visited Priorat, and when they saw these vineyards they understood there was something worthwhile there; the red wines in Priorat are beautiful and don’t look like Côte-Rôties, even though it is just as steep there.

We planted some vines in Spain in 2002 and now we have seven hectares. There’s Grenache and Carignan – the grape of Catalonia – and we’ve also planted Syrah, because we are at the top of hillsides, between 500 metres and 600 metres above sea-level, so there is a lot of freshness during the night.

For now, two projects is enough for us, because we have planted a lot of vines in Côte-Rôtie, where we have 14 hectares. Maybe one day, why not, but until then we need to make a good job with what we have.

My father has always been ‘modern’ in his thinking, and so he made his own style of Côte-Rôtie. For him and now for me and my brother also, we want to make wines that other people like and that we like.

We try to work hard to make very good wine that provides freshness, minerality and pleasure. We don’t want to win a gold medal, rather that people come to us and say, “Last night we drank one of your wines, and it was a beautiful moment.”

We are not using biodynamic methods because in Côte-Rôtie it’s very difficult, and also very expensive. But my grandparents gave us a vineyard, and we need to protect it so that we can give it to our children one day, so we are very precise in our methods.