Domaine Merlin


François Merlin, once mentored by the renowned René Rostaing, made his mark as one of the standout producers in the northern Rhône. Starting from a farming background and building from zero, Merlin carved out his place in the Northern Rhône by prioritising freshness and purity, in turn highlighting the distinct character of the Rhône terroir. He has now passed on his role as head of the winery to his son - Laurent - who is well-poised to continue building the family's legacy. 

Merlin's transition from tending to goats in Condrieu to cultivating premium vineyards reads like a wine lover's dream. Lured by the beauty of the outdoors, he found himself under the wing of the acclaimed winemaker, René Rostaing. This mentorship ignited a passion within François, and by 1987, he confidently planted his roots, purchasing his own slice of Condrieu. The fruits of his labour were soon evident: by 1990, wine enthusiasts could taste the Merlin touch in bottles showcasing his name. Not one to rest on his laurels, François steadily expanded his portfolio. Over the years, his vineyard reach grew significantly, both through ownership and strategic renting. By 2005, he secured a coveted position in the esteemed Côte-Rôtie region. The once underappreciated east-facing plots in Condrieu, influenced by global warming, have since gained prominence. Plots like Chanson and Jeanraude, the latter bordering the legendary Château-Grillet, are testament to his wine's acclaim. It's a rare delight to encounter a first-generation vigneron in the Northern Rhone, particularly one as talented as Merlin. With an unwavering commitment to crafting precise wines from low-yield vines, Merlin, along with his sons, embodies dedication. They intimately know every inch of their terroir, choosing to farm only what the trio can personally nurture by hand.

Back in 1987, Merlin's wine journey began with a modest purchase: a plot of Condrieu vines. By 1990, these vines bore wine with his very own label. As his passion deepened, so did his reach. By 2000, he was setting roots in St-Joseph, and come 2005, he secured a spot in the prestigious Côte-Rôtie.

Condrieu: Here, Merlin expanded his domain over time. Initially, he had to make do with east-facing plots, but as the climate warmed, these turned out to be a boon. Locations like Chanson, Côte Chatillon, and Jeanraude stand out, with the latter even bordering the famed Château-Grillet.

St-Joseph: Besides the iconic St-Joseph Les Grands Ducs, Merlin's holdings here flourish in a sunny blend of granite and schist in St-Pierre-de-Boeuf.

Côte-Rôtie: By 2005, almost two decades in, Merlin clinched a spot in the sought-after Côte-Rôtie, highlighting the region's fierce competition for land.

François, though self-taught, crafted wines with the precision of a master. His methods prioritise the decadent fruit flavours, with subtle nuances from carefully selected aged barrels. Despite climate challenges, his wines retain depth and minerality. With Laurent steering the business since 2024 - having joined operations in 2013 - a fresh touch has been added to the winemaking and viticultural techniques. Together, their combined efforts result in wines that echo both tradition and innovation, capturing the essence of the northern Rhône.

"I cannot tell you just how tempting it is to describe François Merlin as a magician in the cellar. But this would be lazy. Not to mention inaccurate. There’s no trickery here – just decades of determination, raw talent and hard graft." - Matt Walls, Decanter


Our selection of wines from Domaine Merlin