Promising young talent Thibaud Capellaro is a winemaker based in Condrieu, a renowned village in the northern part of the Rhone Valley, where he started his own wine project in 2018. After his studies at the wine school in Beaune, Thibaud worked for a long time between 2015 and 2018 for various wineries in the Rhone Valley and in Australia. He worked for, among others, André Perret (Northern Rhône), Guy Bernard (Northern Rhône), Domaine Joblot (Burgundy), Adam Foster (Victoria, Australia) and Ducloux (Northern Rhône), where he learned everything about the making delicate wines and working with Syrah, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, the grapes of the northern Rhone. Despite the fact that the winemakers he worked for were not natural winemakers, he gradually discovered that he wanted to make natural wines himself.
After purchasing small pieces of land in Côte-Rotie and Saint-Joseph in 2017 from François Bouillot-Salomon, among others, he decided to start his own domain in 2018. He planted the pieces of land himself between 2017 and 2021, and since 2020 he has been renting an additional 0.35 hectares orchard in Côte-Rotie. Thibaud has also had to create terraces on the self-planted slopes, and of course cultivates these orchards biologically and naturally from an early age, while much of the stately northern Rhone is still stiff with herbicides and pesticides. The organic farming of orchards in one of the steepest areas of France, in combination with the sky-high land prices, makes many people think Thibaud is crazy.
In 2020, Thibaud harvested grapes for the first time from the rented vineyard in Côte-Rotie, but the wine he makes from this will not be bottled until 2022. Because the self-planted orchards in Saint-Joseph and in Côte-Rotie do not yet produce grapes and because of the high land and orchard prices he can only expand his own orchards very slowly in the long run, he has next to his own domain set up a négoce project called SLOPE.
For SLOPE, Thibaud uses organic grapes that he buys from legendary natural winemaker Gérald Oustric van Le Mazel in Valvignières (Ardèche), and from organic domain Maison Clusel-Roch in Ampuis (Northern Rhône). Clusel-Roch grapes come from the Saint-Joseph and Coteaux du Lyonnais appellations. Given that Thibaud is very picky when it comes to purchasing grapes, the numbers of his SLOPE wines are still very limited.
To distinguish between the (domain) wines from his own vineyards and the (négoce) wines, the wines will bear different labels, and the wines he makes as a négociant are called SLOPE, which is a nod to the steep slopes of the northern part of the Rhone Valley. His first 'own' vintage of Côte-Rotie grapes will be 2020, but it won't be bottled until 2022.
Thibaud's SLOPE wines already promise a lot of good things to come: the wines are super aromatic and dynamic and change in the glass with every sip. Thibaud only ferments the wines naturally, uses no additives and experiments with different aging methods. For example, he uses old oak barrels, stainless steel, fiberglass, terracotta and ceramics to age his wines. Everything shows that Thibaud works very accurately, and that all wines, even young, are pronounced but focused in texture, taste and aroma. Just like about the origin of the purchased grapes, Thibaud is transparent about the use of sulphites. For some cuvées he adds nothing, and for some cuvées, depending on the vintage, he only adds a maximum of 10 mg/L upon bottling, which ultimately translates to maximum total sulfite levels of between 10 and 30 mg/L. Everything Thibaud does in relation to the making of his wines is atypical and unusual for a region where it is easier (and often expected of winemakers) to stick to conventions.
Thibaud's wines are truly something special, not only in the context of the breathtaking region with its beautiful terroir, but also as wines in their own right. We can't wait to taste the pure Côte-Roties and Saint-Joseph's. Those who make this are in any case often high on our favorite list…