Northern Rhone series 19, Ogier Belle Helene 2007

Normally, I’d shy away from a Cote Rotie aged in 100% new oak. But this cuvee from Ogier seems to be able to take it in its stride. It was first made in 1995, and is named after current proprietor Stephane Ogier’s mother. It’s certainly a modern version of Cote Rotie, but it still has a strong sense of place. I have rated other vintages, notably the fabulous 1999, more highly. But this is still very good indeed.

Domaine Michel et Stéphane Ogier Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Belle Hélène 2007
Lively, enticing nose is super-sweet with cherry and plum fruit, as well as some violet hints. The palate is sweetly fruited, expressive and elegant with a nice peppery finish countering the almost liqueur-like sweetness of the fruit. Very big, sweet and expressive, but with potential for development. Seductive now. 94/100 (£160 The Sampler, Berry Bros & Rudd)

9 comments to Northern Rhone series 19, Ogier Belle Helene 2007

  • Simon T

    Hi Jamie,
    This is where I get a little confused. How confident would you be putting this up ‘blind’ against a big fat Aussie blend of same said varietals and then reviewing. Of late the obsession amongst the new wave of people who are fundamentally at odds with Parker wines is to criticise and you yourself have coined ‘spoofy’. Forgive me but a great deal of your notes on this wine lead me to a ‘spoofy’ conclusion.

    I can’t access all the wines and so it is a joy to read your reviews of them to extract a semblance of vicarious pleasure.

    But the question is, when does big, sweet and expressive cross the line and become spoofy?

  • Andrew Halliwell

    I sometimes wonder how much of wine is fashion and how much is absolutes. Did most of the critics who are these days on an anti-new-oak crusade at any stage in their lives really like it and rave about the wines……..until they knew better, or, if they had been around in the 80s and 90s would they / did they stand up against wines that most people then raved about?

    As for this wine, without having tried it, I agree with Jamie’s drift. It’s ok to be generally against 100% new oak, but if you come up against a wine where it works, why not? For me it just boils down to balance, can the wine handle it and is it enhanced by 100% new oak, or not. And how will it seem in 5 and 10 years? Saying this, I’d also like to hear Jamie’s response to Simon T’s eloquently put question.

  • Simon, great question.
    I wouldn’t mistake this for an Aussie Shiraz (I hope…). Although the fruit profile is a sweet one, there’s still plenty of that northern rhone syrah character here. It is sweetly fruited in comparison to most northern rhone syrah, but it isn’t Australian in style.
    I think there is a line between big sweet and expressive and then spoofy. This is heading a little further up spoofy street than I’d prefer, but not too far. Hope this answers you.

  • Richard

    At £160 a bottle it shouldn’t be anywhere near Spoofy Street.

  • Perhaps “spoofy” has gotten to be too touchy a word, but if these accounts have it right, “Parkerized” seems entirely apropos in this case: http://wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14415&p=190127&hilit=helene#p190127.

  • No names are mentioned in the thread, but it was Stuart Yaniger’s suggestion to make the Belle Helene Cuvee. I had the 1995 at a dinner with him some years ago. I reckon it’s such a good terroir that even 100% new oak can’t mess it up!

  • I should also add that I wouldn’t spend £160 on this – if I had that much to spend on a bottle, it would probably be a Chave Hermitage 2001, or four bottles of the regular Ogier

  • Damien

    I’m glad you added the last comment Jamie, after all under the Isaac Assimov article you said “Take Cote Rotie, for example. I used to buy these wines quite regularly when they were in the £20-30 range; now they’re £40+ it makes me think twice”; let alone £160 a bottle. It must be strange receiving some very nice sample bottles, which are ‘good’ but not necessarily ‘good value’ on a regular basis?!

  • This wasn’t a sample bottle; it was tasted at the Sampler. It deserves a mention, even if it doesn’t represent value for money, I reckon.

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