Wednesday, October 20

Time to say yay to viognier | Came

Yves Cuilleron La Petite Côte, Condrieu, Rhône, France 2019 (£ 44, Condrieu is the style that comes closest to what I imagined good French wine to be when I was an impressionable teenager discovering Rimbaud and Baudelaire for the first time. The polar opposite of cold, mercury, the somewhat austere delicacies of chablis, is a dry white wine that has something decadent in it. Condrieu can be intoxicating, scented, extravagant and full-bodied, with the scent of warm nights in the late summer gardens: honeysuckle, jasmine, verbena; ripe peach and apricot. It is also quite rare: it comes from a short stretch of vineyards planted on the banks of the Rhone, 30 miles south of Lyon, most of which must be worked exclusively by hand (a virtue of necessity on these very steep tractors) to repel slopes. , but a virtue after all). The decline continues in the price: the best condrieu (all condrieu) is not cheap. But when it’s good, fully ripe and yet balanced with a string of freshness like Yves Cuilleron La Petite Côte, it’s almost irresistible.

Laurent Miquel, Vendanges Nocturnes Viognier, IGP Pays d’Oc, 2020 (Waitrose) A distinctive feature of the condrieu that is no longer so rare is the variety of grape with which it is made, viognier. Just half a century ago, the world’s most violent plantations had been reduced to just 35 acres, in Condrieu and the neighboring single-grower appellation, Château Grillet. Like so many other things in modern wine, it was the producers of the so-called New World that brought about the revival of the variety, the most notable being the Australian producer Yalumba, who found the ideal variety for the warm and sunny conditions of Australia’s Eden Valley. from the south. The company has put a lot of time and resources into understanding Viognier, and makes some of the best and most valuable viogniers (such as the Y-series Viognier for £ 8.50 in Sainsbury’s). Other good-value options include another long-term master of the art, Laurent Miquel in the Languedoc, and the cooler, crisp but still charmingly scented style of Vendanges Nocturnes, which costs £ 6.99 (instead of £ 6.99). 9.99) until August 24.

Tabalí Barranco Río Hurtado Viognier, Limarí, Chile 2018 (£ 14.50, The trick with Viognier is timing: rather like harvesting a peach, there is a very small window of opportunity between unripe and overripe. Viognier needs sun and warmth, and the grapes need to be ripe, with plenty of sugar (and therefore potential alcohol) before they begin to show all the full bloom aromas and textures that make it so attractive and different. But if you leave it too late, you end up with a wine that has too much of everything except the freshness that makes any wine drinkable. In Chile, there has been a tendency over the years to go too wrong on the side of early harvesting with viognier, which has produced some perfectly drinkable but not particularly distinctive or exciting wines. Some of the newer and more remote vineyard areas in the country seem to offer conditions where finding that sweet spot is less of a challenge. Certainly, the very high altitude of Viña Tabalí (1,600 m above sea level), the Barranco vineyard, in the north of Limarí, has given a beautiful and very original expression of this delicate grape: luminous, elegant, it plays with the floral side Viognier with soft peach and a pulse of freshness. .

Follow David Williams on Twitter @Daveydaibach

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