This tiny appellation just south of Cote Rotie produces all white wine, all from Viognier, the heady, perfumed grape that is at its best in the Northern Rhone. The slopes are south facing and made of granite, with a very specific top soil made from mica, called arzelle. Condrieu is small, with only 300 acres of vine. Within Condrieu lies Chateau Grillet, a sole estate and an appellation – the smallest one in France at under 9 acres of vine. Also a Viognier-only region, the wines from here are small production (obviously) so somewhat expensive, but not always superior in quality to Condrieu.
Due to Viognier's fickle nature, the yields in Condrieu are kept low and the grapes are carefully tended. This in turn leads to low production and high quality - not to mention high prices. Slopes face the south and so protect the vines from the disruptive (yet cooling) winds of the Mistral. The wine is meant to be drunk young (within 3 years) because the grape does not often have the acid to hold the wine up for longevity. Typical of Viognier, the wines exude intense scents of apricot and honeysuckle. For the true essence of Viognier, Condrieu is the wine to try.