Wine Profile: Condrieu

Condrieu Wine
Wine Profile : Condrieu

Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Condrieu -- it’s not exactly the world’s most common bottle. In fact, true Condrieu, produced in the northern part of France’s Rhone Valley, is one of the rarest bottles you’ll find on the market. However, if you’re lucky enough to find a bottle for sale, you’ll discover that this is a unique and versatile wine that pairs well with more than a few foods.

Read on for more information about this uncommon beast, Condrieu.

About Condrieu

The first thing you need to know about Condrieu is that it’s a full-bodied white wine with a rich texture, not unlike a Chardonnay. It hails from the growing region of the same name, which is located in the northern part of the Rhone Valley in France. The wines made in Condrieu are exclusively white, and are made from the Viognier grape.

Condrieu is one of the rarest wines in France, and on the export market. This is because the Viognier vines in this region produce fairly low yields. As a result, only 30,000 cases of Condrieu are produced annually.

In the glass, you'll notice a bright yellow or golden color. While on the nose, you’ll pick up notes of peaches, dried fruits and white flowers. Some more complex bottles of Condrieu will also have notes of anise, star fruit and melons. This is a fairly dry wine with a high alcohol content, low acidity and strong flavors.

Among experts, there is some discussion about when Condrieu is best to drink. Some say it’s best after two to four years of aging in the bottle. Others suggest that some vintages -- 2004, for example -- can stand up well to as many as eight years of aging.

Where to find Condrieu

Condrieu -- the wine -- is hard to find, but the logical place to start is in the region of the same name in the Rhone Valley. However, look carefully, because the Viognier vines are planted on only 105 total hectares in the entire region.

The climate here is continental, with hot summers and cold, wet winters; however, the granite soils and south-facing vineyards here produce good grapes. This is because the granite soils -- particularly those on the region’s steep slopes -- drain very well.

Pairing Condrieu with foods

Condrieu has a big flavor and loads of alcohol, so the natural tendency is to pair it with foods that work well with Chardonnays of a similar nature. This can sometimes be a mistake: Condrieus are subtle wines and can lose their great flavor next to big tastes.

The best pairing for Condrieu is seafood, such as salmon and other fatty fish or lobster and halibut. Marry any fish with a good creamy sauce and you’ll have a nice pair for this wine.

Some other great choices include pork in a creamy sauce, steamed green vegetables and soft cheeses like brie.

In a pinch, you could even get away with pairing Condrieu with milder Indian and Thai curries, but don’t go overboard and match it with really spicy flavors -- you’re sure to lose all the nuances of the wine.

Read on to find out the price of Condrieu and the best bottles to invest in...

Price of Condrieu

Condrieu is expensive, make no bones about it. The wine’s high price is due to its comparative rarity -- no other region in the world produces a wine with the same taste profile. You can find other, similar wines made from the Viognier grape -- ones that come from the United States, Australia and Argentina -- but they’re nowhere near as delicate and complex as the French bottle.

As a result of its rarity, expect to pay premium prices for Condrieu. Entry-level bottles will sell for around $40 or $50, but the higher-priced bottles can go for 10 times that price.

Cote Bonnette, Domaine Mouton, 2006 Condreui -  Credit:


2006 Condrieu, Côte Bonnette, Domaine Mouton ($41)

Here is a relatively affordable Condrieu produced by Jean-Claude Mouton.

This is a very expressive and elegant wine with a nice, clean finish and notes of peach and honeysuckle. It’s nice and smooth, and wonderful on the palate.

This bottle’s so affordable you could drink it with foie gras (which, by the way, is another excellent pairing for Condreui).

Guigal Condreui 2006 - Credit:

Guigal Condrieu 2006 ($50)

On the nose, Guigal Condrieu has a great balance of pears, spice and honey. On the tongue, it’s rich and full-bodied. This wine has all the great notes of a wonderful Condrieu. It’s brilliant as an aperitif or with seafood.

Chateau De Saint Cosme, Condrieu 2003 ($100)

Chateau De Saint Cosme, Condrieu 2003 - Credit:

Brilliant and complex, there’s a lot going on inside a bottle of Chateau De Saint Cosme 2003. This wine is good and ripe with a nice, round mouth feel.

Take-away tips on Condreui
Condrieu is considered such a treat that one of France’s most influential chefs, Fernand Point, used to serve it to Winston Churchill. Condrieu nearly became extinct in the 1960s, when only eight hectares of the vines remained.

Does counterfeit Condrieu exist? Maybe not, but you can get Californian, Australian and Argentinean wines made from the Viognier grape, but it's not up to par with the French version.

It’s said that Condrieu’s vintages are its most recent. Look for excellent bottle from 2006, 2005 and 2004.


Wine Profile: Condrieu


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