The richest of Perret's Condrieus, voluptuous explosive fruit flavours of peach, nectarine, greengage, fresh cut flowers and apricot. Exotic and full but with excellent balancing acidity. Aged and fermented in 20% new oak barriques and from a plot of 47-year-old vines where the high clay content in the soils tends to produce full bodied wines.
Tasting André’s superb wines is an unforgettable experience. However, there is always a reticent air about him and an unwillingness to accept praise for the nectar that lies in his immaculate cellars. He deflects most of the praise onto the steep vineyards he owns at Chavanay and the three hectare Coteau du Chéry, the pearl in his oyster. His vines (between 25 to 50 years old) are well exposed to the sun and rarely yield more than 30 hl/ha. He prefers one- to two-year-old oak for maturing his whites, believing that brand new oak can only subdue the extravagant natural aromas and flavours of the Viognier. Of his two top Condrieu, the Clos Chanson is usually the most immediately appealing. It offers balance and charm for up to three years in bottle, while the Château du Chéry plays a little harder to get with its finer, classier fruit and violet hints that further reveal themselves with a couple of years bottle age. The crunchy, damson-packed St Joseph usually requires two years in bottle before starting to drink while Les Grisières, a parcel of 90-year-old vines, could challenge a Côte Rôtie for its grace and longevity.
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.