A tiny appellation located on the west bank of the northern portion of the Rhône river, Château-Grillet is located entirely within the already small appellation of Condrieu, and is one of the few single-estate appellations in all of France. Château-Grillet produces small amounts of white wine only, and this solely from the Viognier varietal.
Viognier is a great modern success story. While it was famous for centuries, high in praise and in price, Viognier vines had dwindled to only 35 acres in 1968. Irregular flowering, poor grape set, low yields and phylloxera all took a heavy toll. But today, Viognier production has increased by leaps and bounds, and the successes of both Château-Grillet and Condrieu are along for the ride.
Château-Grillet is blessed with near-perfect growing conditions. The vineyards are located in a steep, naturally created bowl that faces south and traps the sun. The soft and powdery granite-based soil provides just enough nutrients and water for the vines. The grapes are generally picked earlier than Condrieu, so the wines are always dry, though sweet versions are permitted by law. The wines of Château-Grillet then undergo partial barrel-fermentation, sur-lie aging and a longer time in barrel after fermentation, creating a wine of riches and weight, though always with balanced acidity.
Though they are famous for their quality and uniqueness, the price of Château-Grillet is often ridiculously high. Supply and demand. Should you be lucky enough, they are at their best within the first five years after harvest.