Découvertes En Vallée du Rhône – Day 4


The Mistral did what it could, to keep me away from Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde, but was beaten by pure motivation. If Tain l’Hermitage was cold it was perhaps even worse close to Ampuis, where the world-famous slopes are to be found. The unfriendliness of the Mistral, just a few degrees plus, some snow from time to time and freezing hands didn’t stop me – I had to feel the soil!

Is there any point bringing up the greatness of La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque? Year in and out, they belong to the best wines produced on the planet. More interesting were the fact that the 2011 La Doriane from Condrieu was better than ever and the 2010 Saint Jospeh Vignes de l’Hospice simply a killer. What a structure! Eve and Philippe Guigal – a lovely couple and most generous with the pourings.

Look at those vines. They’re old you know….

André Perret sure knows how to produce a Condrieu! His 2011 Condrieu Chery, a premium vineyard site and probably one of the best within the appellation, rocks. Big time! Restrained floral aromas, lots of wet rocks feel and classy acidity. Long and elegant finish. Closing in at world class stuff. Condrieu was THE number one find on the Rhône journey. Not that it was new to me, not at all, but the development which has taken place the last ten or twelve years has totally changed the scene. Never fat and low in acidity, with almost unbalanced and generous amounts of oak, no, but presented with remarkable freshness as its trademark, highlighting the terroir. Gentle oak, less dominant bitterness which was more evident in the low acidity wines before. A Condrieu is never cheap, but then when you see the working conditions in the vineyards and realize how few hectares Condrieu is, then 40-50 euros for a top top effort isn’t much. Is it?

The church in Ampuis.

From the top of the Côte-Rôtie Blonde – a breathtaking view. And a freaking Mistral desperately trying to catapult us all the way down to Ampuis.

Spring is on its way – at least there is some signs of it.

The brown slope – Côte-Rôtie Brune – with its iron rich schist soil. Spectacularly terraced vineyards.

I remember the first time I had a Niero. It was the 2003 and since I’ve been following the wines thanks to Berry Bros & Rudd in London. Today Rémi Niero is running the show and the 2011 Héritage is a new wine which he has created as an hommage to his father and grandfather. A selection of he best stuff. 2 barrels. A class act!

Paul Amsellem and Christine Vernay at Georges Vernay. Still one of the best in Condrieu which all their wines confirmed. Especially the 2011 Coteau de Vernon is one of the stars of the appellation, the best some would probably say.

I worship the – Côte-Rôtie! Yes, I know the rhyme sucks…