About this WINE
Domaine Yves Cuilleron
Yves Cuilleron, is described by Wine Spectator as "the leader of Condrieu's new generation of winemakers." Yves represents the 4th generation of Cuilleron vignerons although he initially trained as a engineer. The lure of the vine proved too hard to resist and after a year's training at the Ecole Viticole in Macon he took over the vineyards in 1987.
Since then he has built an entirely new winery at Chavany facility while at the same time he acquired additional vineyard property. The domaine now produces about 50,000 bottles annually divided between the appellations of St. Joseph Blanc, St. Joseph Rouge, Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu.
Most of the vineyards are situated in and around the commune of Chavanay which is just south of the town of Condrieu. He produces approximately 12,000 to 15,000 bottles of Condrieu each year with his production split into 3 cuvees; La Petite Cote, an old vines cuvee Les Chaillets, and a late harvest cuvee Les Ayguets.
Until you’ve tasted Viognier grown in Condrieu, you’ve never truly experienced the grape’s majesty. In the same way that winemakers the world over have planted Pinot Noir in the hope of emulating red Burgundy, so too they’ve planted Viognier in the hope of achieving the unique balance of exotic perfume, weight and freshness for which Condrieu is famed. Few succeed. Traditionally, winemakers here have used relatively inert, large wooden vessels vinification and élevage are in relatively inert, large, wooden vessels, but the new generation of winemakers are increasingly interested in the qualities of new oak.
Plantings have expanded beyond the core of the AOC, around the village itself, to 140 hectares from the low of eight hectares in the 1960s. The vineyards pick up where Côte-Rôtie leaves off, the slope continues, but the schist of the north begins to give way to a little more granite and a topsoil of decomposed mica. Today the appellation is characterised by energy and creativity, and demand for the wines from this diminutive region is soaring.
It is a poor-yielding grape that is notoriously fickle to grow, being susceptible to a whole gamut of pests and diseases. Crucially it must be picked at optimum ripeness - if harvested too early and under-ripe the resulting wine can be thin, dilute and unbalanced, while if picked too late then the wine will lack the grape's distinctive peach and honeysuckle aroma. It is most successfully grown in the tiny appellations of Château-Grillet and Condrieu where it thrives on the distinctive arzelle granite-rich soils. It is also grown in Côte Rôtie where it lends aromatic richness to the wines when blended with Syrah.
Viognier has been on the charge in the Southern Rhône and the Languedoc throughout the 1990s and is now a key component of many white Côtes du Rhône. In Languedoc and Rousillon it is increasingly being bottled unblended and with notable success with richly fragrant wines redolent of overripe apricots and peaches and selling at a fraction of the price of their Northern Rhône cousins.