It seems hard to believe that by the 1960s most of Côte-Rôtie lay abandoned: with no one willing to do back-breaking work on the terraces, winemakers turned to farming apricots beneath the slopes. A new generation arrived in the early 1970s and names such as Guigal found success taking a modern approach. The likes of Clape, Jamet, and Levet had to wait longer for drinkers to rediscover the beauty of their old school northern Rhône wines.
At the helm since 2004, Agnès Levet has taken her parents’ estate to the next level. She meticulously tends 3.5ha of Sérine – a low-yielding, local clone of Syrah – dispersed between six old-vine lieux-dits within Côte-Rôtie, including the highly revered vineyards ‘La Chavaroche’, ‘La Landonne’, and ‘La Moulin’. These steep, organically farmed terraces have been worked and harvested manually since the Levets first acquired them in the 1930s.
In a cellar in Ampuis, whole-cluster fermentation takes place in tank using native yeasts, before ageing in large oak casks and smaller barrels for three years. Wines are bottled with minimal fining and without filtration. This delicate approach results in enticing floral aromatics, mineral-accented black fruit, and peppery spice built around a structure for long ageing.
From ‘La Chavaroche’, ‘Péroline’ is dark and brooding, taking on complex smoke and meat nuances with time in bottle. ‘Maestria’ – sourced from ‘La Landonne’ – combines high-toned fruit and elegant floral notes with a wild, spicy finish. A blend of lieux-dits, 'Amethyste' is the most open and accessible of Levet’s cuvées in youth, offering ripe autumnal fruit layered with notes of dried herbs and roasted coffee.
With an enthusiastic following among sommeliers and lovers of classically styled Côte-Rôtie, Levet’s wines are never easy to find, especially with maturity. This assortment of ready-to-drink vintages is the result of painstaking sourcing and patient cellaring. With game season underway and a chill in the air, the time is right to enjoy them.
Levet Côte-Rôtie 'Peroline' 2008 (£95) Sold out
Deeper and fleshier than most 2008s – velvety black fruit studded with liquorice and clove. Complex black tea and tobacco through to the satisfyingly long finish. Drink to 2028.
Levet Côte-Rôtie 'Peroline' 2012 (£98) Sold out
Heady and exotic, showing blackberry and plum liqueur, incense, and smoked meat notes. Sappy and intense, with subtle power. Soft and supple. Drink to 2035. 93 Points, Vinous
Levet Côte-Rôtie 'Maestria' 2012 (£89) Sold out
Concentrated black and blue fruit tinged with olive, cracked pepper, and a stony mineral edge. Juicy and focused, gaining fruit and spice with air. Drink to 2032. 93 Points, Vinous
Levet Côte-Rôtie 'Maestria' 2013 (£86) Sold out
Multi-layered and complex: wild cherry compote, spiced cake, fresh violets, mocha.
Its satin richness is lifted by lip-smacking acidity and a smoky minerality. Drink to 2030. 94 Points, Vinous
Levet Côte-Rôtie 'Maestria' 2016 (£79) Sold out
A blend of power and finesse – testament to the accessibility of the 2016s – with its detailed, fruit-rich palate, dusty tannins, and wild, gamey streaks. Drink to 2034. 94 Points, Vinous
Levet Côte-Rôtie 'Amethyste' 2015 (£78) Sold out
A coiled spring of dark, energetic fruit and high-toned floral notes. Suave and seamless – from a vintage that encapsulates Levet’s upward trajectory. Drink to 2033. 92 Points, Vinous
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