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.
A Northern Rhône appellation that produces red wines from the Syrah grape and white wines that can be a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. Potentially some very good quality wines can be produced on the steep east-facing granite slopes, however the vineyard area was expanded in the 70s and 80s to the less suitable land on the plateau too so the appellation is now a large one and quality can be variable. The vineyard area stretches a long way from Condrieu in the North to near Valence in the south spanning over 900 ha. Tournon, Mauves and St-Jean-de-Muzols are some of the main towns around which the original terraced vineyards of St Joseph were and still are planted. St Joseph Red and white lacks the weight and ripeness of a Hermitage or the complexity of a Côte Rôtie. The average wine is designed for early drinking over 2-3 years after the vintage, being soft and supple in its youth, perhaps less round and smooth than a Crozes-Hermitage but with more acidity. However there are a number of very good producers in the region now that make reds to be drunk 4 - 8 years after the vintage, the best can reach heights very rarely achieved by Crozes-Hermitage and make for excellent value. The whites can be very good too, full-bodied and floral, often with low acidity, so they are usually best drunk within three years of the vintage. Some of the most highly regarded examples of St Joseph come from, Andre Perret, Francois Villard, Pierre Gaillard, Jean-Louis Chave, Coursodon and Gonon.