Condrieu, a prestigious white wine AOC of the Rhône Valley
While the Côte-Rôtie appellation is dedicated to red wine, the nearby and equally famous Condrieu appellation is the kingdom of white wine. These crus of the northern Rhone valley are dedicated to Syrah and Viognier, two grape varieties that express all their richness through these rare and sought-after AOCs. Condrieu is also the northernmost white appellation in the Rhône Valley. The wines are always delicate and smooth, qualities that have earned it an international reputation.
General presentation of the appellation
The Condrieu vineyard is located in the northern part of the Rhône Valley, south of Lyon and a stone's throw from Vienne. On the right bank of the river, this appellation area of just 160 hectares is adjacent to the AOC Côte-Rôtie and Saint-Joseph. If the Côte-Rôtie sublimates the Syrah, the Condrieu uses exclusively the Viognier. However, this grape variety is common to both appellations; it is used in certain Côte-Rôtie wines in addition to Syrah, up to a maximum of 20%.
These AOC wines are produced in 7 communes at the crossroads of 3 departments: Condrieu in the Rhône, Chavanay, Malleval, Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône, Saint-Pierre-de-Bœuf and Vérin in the Loire, and Limony in Ardèche. The Condrieu vineyard also includes a very small enclave of a few hectares devoted to the Château-Grillet appellation, where Viognier also reigns supreme.
As in Côte-Rôtie, the Condrieu vineyards are particularly steep and demanding. At the foot of the Pilat massif, they benefit from soils, sunshine and a climate that are perfect for growing Viognier.
Characteristics of Condrieu
Condrieu is most often drunk young, but it can age very well (5 to 15 years), especially the great terroir wines of the appellation. This white wine has a pale gold colour with bright reflections. Its characteristic aromas of apricot and white peach are enriched by floral notes, a perfumed and heady bouquet of violet and iris that is most seductive. Supple, unctuous, with a good length and great freshness on the palate, the white wines of the AOC Condrieu are particularly rich and elegant. They are among those wines sought after by discerning collectors and whose prices can sometimes soar.
How to taste a Condrieu
Before serving a Condrieu, it is advisable to decant it. Prefer a serving temperature of between 11 and 13°.
It is a wine that goes wonderfully well with sophisticated dishes highlighting regional products, such as fish from the Rhône. It owes its reputation, in part, to a great two-starred restaurant in Vienne, La Pyramide, where the chef Patrick Henriroux works. A Condrieu is also perfect with shellfish such as lobster, prawns, scallops or langoustine. It also goes well with foie gras, white pudding, poultry, veal and pork, as well as noble fish such as monkfish or turbot. As for cheese, Rigotte de Condrieu, an AOC goat cheese, is ideal. Finally, apricot desserts will resonate with the aromatic richness of the wine.