About this WINE
Mouton Père & Fils
Jean-Claude Mouton’s vines sit high above the village of Condrieu. His modest winery is located right on the top of the hill, giving a wonderful view over the valley below. He currently farms 3.4 hectares in the appellation, with another 1.5 due to come over the next few years. His two Condrieu lieux dits cuvées express two quite different terroirs. One is mainly planted on granite, the other based on a mixture of clay, limestone and loess. In the winery, minimal new oak is used – the wines are matured in Burgundian barrels with little to no toasting.
Jean-Claude’s son, Bryan, now shares the duties with his father and divides his time between the vineyards and the winery. Bryan acknowledges that 2020 was difficult for Viognier as the powerful sunshune caused alcohols to rise ahead of the phenolic maturity of the grapes. They had to manage this very carefully in the vineyard. The fact that Mouton Père et Fils ’20s are ripe yet full of elegance and restraint is testament to their significant skill. The ’20 vintage also introduces a new single vineyard wine to the Mouton fold, Corbery, vinified and matured 100% in concrete eggs. We really love the precision and purity of the new cuvée, bravo!
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.