Patrick Jasmin farms along the infamous terraces of Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhône—hard work that he jokingly calls “la galère,” like a ship’s galley. Growing grapes on some of the most precipitous, terraced parcels of the Rhône can be back-breaking work, but Patrick loves it. Answering only to himself in the midst of celebrated vineyard land, he’s as independent and they come with an insatiable appetite for adventure and risks. (In addition to holding the title of the French National Kart-Cross Champion in 2000, he has developed a new passion for car track racing.) As the fourth generation to farm the family domaine, at first alongside both his father and grandfather and now on his own, he remains grounded in tradition. Patrick and his wife Arlette (the business whiz of the family), tend to eleven parcels of land in eight lieux-dits, totaling a mere five hectares of land. It’s a remarkable amount of work considering the challenging nature of the terrain and its inaccessibility to tractors. Therefore, at Domaine Jasmin everything is done by hand, of course with the exception of the punch-downs…which are by foot.
Côte Rôtie is one of the oldest vineyard areas in France; its sun-baked slopes were first planted by the Romans over two thousand years ago. Beyond the optimal sun exposure, the pedigree of the land stems from the minerals, rich in varied soils from schist and granite to clay, gneiss, and limestone. The Jasmin’s vineyards are co-planted with ninety-five percent Syrah and five percent Viognier; the traditionally planted Viognier lends terrific floral aromas to this wine over time. The séléction massale of his Syrah is known as “la vieille sérine.” Closely studied by the Synidicat of his home town in Ampuis, Patrick works with them to promote the conservation of this ancient version of the varietal, known for its beautiful aromatics, smaller berries and seeds, and lower yields. Patrick vinifies their two cuvées separately—one from their old vines in the Côte Baudin and Côte Blonde, the other from single vineyards Beleyat and Tupin. The two are blended before bottling to produce a single Côte Rôtie. Adherence to tradition and respect for terroir are at the heart of Patrick’s philosophy—a stark contrast to the growing trends of long macerations and use of new oak. These wines show great balance in their youth, gaining more complexity with cellar age.