François Villard

The busy and bustling François Villard is a young man who will soon escalate into the highest echelons of Northern Rhône stardom, if he has not already done so. He could quite easily and happily lecture you for a day on the different soils, expositions and climates of his various vineyard plots, but it is his wines that really do the talking. At his tiny Domaine, no expense is spared in the production of his stunning wines from the lowering of yields in the vineyards to the purchase of top quality new wood barrels each year. The Condrieus are made in a late-picked, relatively full style whilst retaining a mouthwatering mineral intensity, while the red St Joseph is a massive, yet fine-grained, wine that could forgivably be mistaken for Côte Rôtie.
François Villard

Appellation: Condrieu

An appellation in the Northern Rhône that produces white wine soley from the Viognier grape. Condrieu is situated just south of Côte Rôtie where the river bends and exposes the vineyards to the sun-blanched south. The popularity of this vineyard area waned in the sixties to the point where only 10 ha were planted however this has since rocketed up again to 100 ha, which is still tiny in comparison to most other wine-producing regions. The expansion and revival was due to an increase in quality-led producers growing and bottling their own wine. The area is small, difficult to work and yields are low, all of which conspire to make Condrieu an expensive wine. The north wind is cold and can be devastating so south facing slopes protecting the vines from the north are vitally important. The slopes are very steep so erosion is another problem growers face. Winemaking techniques vary according to producer, whether it be exclusively steel or barrel fermentation and whether to allow the wine to complete its malo or not. Condrieu is the ultimate expression of the Viognier, reaching a complexity and finesse achieved nowhere else in the world. The wine is always a floral, full-bodied one but style can vary from the ripe, unctuous and peachy to the elegant violet-scented and mineral. Among the top producers are Perret, Villard, Vernay and Cuilleron.

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