In a nutshell: Deep, dark and powerful Côte Rôtie from the northern Rhône.
The lowdown: Côte Rôtie divides into 2 distinct slopes, the Côtes Blonde and Brune. This cuvée is made from younger vines grown on the lighter white sandy (hence 'Blonde') soils of the Côtes Blonde. 'Fortis' is Latin for strong, brave, vigorous and valiant which is quite apt for this particular wine. Dark red in colour, this is a stylish and powerful wine with complex aromas of cherry fruit, black pepper, sweet spice, pontefract cake and violets. Seductive and sweet, it imparts rich, concentrated berry flavours. Extremely fine with rounded, supple tannins and a long and silky finish.
When to drink: One of the pinnacles of northern Rhône Syrah it's made to go with rich recipes like venison, duck breast, or with ripe cheeses.
Stéphane Montez's family have been growing grapes in the Northern Rhône for ten generations and today have 23 hectares of prime vineyards in Condrieu, Côte Rôtie and Saint-Joseph. Their winery is just north of the village of Chavany in the heart of the region.
After formally studying winemaking in France, Stéphane travelled to South Africa, Australia, California and England to experience winemaking outside France, before returning to the family estate. He took over the business in 1997 and has driven the quality of the wines and the domaine's reputation to even greater heights. Winemaking focuses on power, precision and structure and involves temperature-controlled fermentations, careful extraction and the use of large wooden vats known as demi-muids.