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.
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.