Nectar of the Northern Rhône: Extraordinary New Condrieu

The concept of terroir underlies nearly everything in French winemaking. French winemakers prize a wine’s expression of “somewhereness,” above all else. Plant Pinot Noir in Provence, and you’ll get a generic, uninteresting red wine; plant it on a hillside north of Beaune, and the result can be other-worldly.

Other grapes find their supreme expression in other spots: Sauvignon Blanc in Sancerre, Syrah in Côte Rôtie, Cabernet and Merlot in Bordeaux. And for the varietal viognier, the undisputed pinnacle of form is Condrieu.

Condrieu is a tiny appellation — just over half a square mile of vines. But it produces one of the world’s great white wines, as complex aromatically as it is elegant and mouthfilling on the palate. For fans of Viognier, there’s Condrieu, and then there’s everything else.

Our source for Condrieu is the brothers Bonnefond, a domaine best known for their excellent Côte Rôties. Their 2018 Condrieu is superb — the nose is extraordinarily complex and perfumed, with notes ranging from gardenia, herb honey, apricot, green tea, and dried mango. The mouth is smooth and rich with notes of peach and pear, and a beautiful grape-skin briskness that balances the mouthcoating texture.

Condrieu is the perfect winter white wine — rich, mouthfilling, expressive and alive. So complex and diverse is the array of flavors that it requires no accompaniment from food. Should hunger force your hand, a simple French salad is the best choice.

Final note — serve this in your largest Burgundy-style balloon glasses, and let the wine come up to room temperature in the glass. It’s an aromatic experience unparallelled in the world of food.


Bonnefond Condrieu 2018
bottle price: $62

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