When you look at the number of wine regions and states within the US that produce Viognier, it’s hard to believe that by the mid 1980’s there were less than 100 acres of the exquisite northern Rhone variety planted in the world (all mostly in Condrieu). Today, Viognier is fairly popular all over the wine world, though not a major player in terms of broad-scale consumer recognition like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir. The small appellation of Condrieu, located in the northern Rhone just south of Côte Rôtie, makes white wine exclusively from the Viognier grape variety. Condrieu is the homeland of Viognier and is considered the benchmark for fine examples of Viognier throughout the wine world. Condrieu is hard to find and fetches a pretty penny; with price points starting at $50 a bottle and going up.
Lighter-bodied, fruit-driven and floral-laced examples of Viognier can usually be found for under $20 from a number of wine regions and several states within the US. In my Viognier / Condrieu tasting experiences, I guess the thing that makes Condrieu stand out is it’s often imitated but never duplicated. With that being said, for the price Condrieu fetches, it can, in my humble opinion, be hit or miss in the quality-to-price-ratio category. However, when it’s a hit, Condrieu delivers a rich, round texture with layers of complexities (fruit, well integrated barrel character, earthiness, minerality, etc.) that non Condrieu (or Condrieu-style) Viognier wines do not deliver (granted wines made in the style of Condrieu can be quite delicious and usually less expensive). Today’s ‘Quick Sip,’ the Domaine François Villard 2008 Condrieu Le Grand Vallon, is aromatically complex with white pitted fruit, melon, white flowers, hay, and orange blossom scents with light buttery nuances and a sprinkling of baking spice. The palate is rich, yet well balanced with a slightly oily texture that carries through to the mid-palate with a pleasant mélange of flavors and a nice lingering finish. When it comes to getting familiar with Condrieu, get a small tasting group together to offset the price. Besides, you’ll likely have a better time tasting in a group setting where you can discuss the wine and region with others. The Domaine François Villard 2008 Condrieu retails for $75 and is one of the nicer Condrieu wines I’ve tasted recently. If you like Viognier, don’t let price keep you away from Condrieu – find a few good tasters! Cheers!
Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at email@example.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come.
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