There are now plantings of Viognier worldwide but this grape’s spiritual homeland is in Condrieu – where the finest Viogniers are produced. The appellation was created in 1940, and today over 40 growers make wines from just over 100 hectares of vineyards. The wines are dry with a wonderful floral nose of peaches, apricots, violets and pears, and quite alcoholic, with low-ish acidity. Condrieus are best enjoyed when young.
Learn more about Condrieu
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.