22 Jun François Villard ‘le Grand Vallon’
wine: François Villard ‘le Grand Vallon’
region: Condrieu (northern Rhône valley)
Unlike so many other household names in the northern Rhône valley (Guigal, Chave, Chapoutier) François Villard did not grow up in a winemaking family. As a local chef, his interest in wine led him to sommelier studies, which in turn led him to winemaking. Through textbooks and trial and error, he got off to a start planting vines in 1989, and by 1997 he had his own winery. Although Villard now makes fabulous Syrah from the regions of Côte Rôtie, St. Joseph, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage, he is famous for his complex Condrieu wines.
Condrieu is a sub-region of the northern Rhône valley. Law dictates that wines produced here may only be comprised of the white grape Viognier. (The other notable sub-regions of the northern Rhône Valley – Côte Rôtie, St. Joseph, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage – focus on the Syrah grape.) Viognier produces highly aromatic wines and the finest Condrieu wines exhibit aromas of peach, apricot, honeysuckle and flowers. Condrieu’s fragrant wines are dry, rich and concentrated, with a full-bodied velvelty texture.
The grapes are from 23 year old vines that are handpicked from a single south-east facing vineyard in the Village of St. Pierre de Boeuf. Fermentation occurred in oak casks at low temperatures with native wild yeasts. The wine was aged for 12 months in oak barrels (35% new) on lees without racking.
93 points “This sports some power, with mango and papaya notes forming the core. Shows plenty of range, presenting tangerine, bitter orange and quince accents while a hint of singed almond lines the finish. Delivers a long, juicy, anise-fueled finish. Drink now through 2017.” – Wine Spectator
“This elegant, late-ripening Viognier is complex and subtle with notes of mandarin and sour honey, in addition to the usual descriptors of apricot and peach. A gentle finish, redolent of almonds and even iodine, underlines the complexity here.” – Berry Brothers & Rudd