René’s vineyard fervour and favoured use of 600 litre demi-muid casks which don’t stamp too much wood flavour onto the wine, result in some of the region’s most concentrated and sought-after Côte Rôtie. His Cuvée Classique is a blend dominated by the produce of La Viaillère that always shows a hallmark refinement and juiciness. His La Landonne is typically muscular and backward when young that after 8+ years develops into a whole spectrum of savoury meat and hedgerow fruit flavours. However, his flagship wine, Côte Blonde goes against the grain of the widespread clichés about the effeminacy and delicacy of Côte Blonde wines. Although it does benefit from the floral effects of the 2-3% Viognier added to the blend, its density and concentration requires a barrel maturation longer than the others and at least ten years bottle age is needed before it is approached.
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.