Part of the great modern success story that is the Viognier grape. The small communes of Condrieu and Château-Grillet located within once produced fantastic wines that were the toast of France and could be found as far away as Moscow. Located on the western bank of the Northern half of the Rhône river, an area that has been producing fine wines for at least two millenia. Named for the corner of the Rhône just south of the city of Vienne (coin de ruisseau), Condrieu produces only white wine from the enigmatic Viognier.
A low-yielding varietal that is susceptible to irregular berries and flowering, Viognier is cost and labor-intensive to produce. Add to this the steep, terraced vineyards of Condrieu, and then devastating phylloxera in the 1860s, and the amount of acres plated to Viognier dropped to just 35 only a few decades ago. But the wines produced from Viognier can have a unique combination of grace, richness, fruit and flowers. The wines are powerful and rich, yet extremely floral and dry, with enough fruit to satisfy any palate, and have the added bonus of being one of the few truly great wines in the world that is at its best when it is young. Production in the Rhône is up everywhere, and the great Viognier and Condrieu are making combacks, with the amount of Condrieu produced up over 500% in the last 20 years.
Condrieu is the best region in the world for producing Viognier. The steep slopes have a cool, granite rich soil and face south to collect the sun. The wines are generally dry, but late-harvest and even botrytised examples are resurfacing.