Georges Vernay Condrieu Les Chaillees de L'Enfer 2017
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The 2017 Condrieu Chaillees De L'Enfer comes from a hillside just next to Coteau de Vernon and was first made in 1992. It's brought up exactly like the Coteau de Vernon, so the difference (and there are always differences between the two wines) are all due to terroir. Stunning notes of ripe citrus, orange pith, spice, and floral notes all emerge from the glass, and this medium to full-bodied Condrieu has good acidity, a vibrant, elegant texture, and a great finish. It's not a blockbuster, but this estate made sure to hold onto a sense of freshness and purity in both their 2017s and 2018s.
This has a rich and ripe apricot nose with lightly toasted almonds and a ripe, fresh-peach feel. The palate has a very supple, rich and smooth build of ripe orchard fruit. Super attractive and fleshy. Drink now.
The 2017 Condrieu les Chaillees de l'Enfer offers up unusually subdued aromas of apricot and citrus. It's a reined-in vintage, showing ample tension on the medium to full-bodied palate and finishing velvety, with hints of crushed stone and pencil oak. Like the other 2017s from Vernay, it's about balance and focus more than flamboyance or power.
A pioneer in the renewal of the Condrieu appellation, Domaine Georges Vernay has always made wines of unique style, notable for their finesse, elegance and harmony. The property has become a major emblem of Rhone Valley winegrowing, from the time when Georges Vernay saved the Condrieu appellation to the international awards earned by Christine Vernay’s Côte-Rôtie. Three generations have left the mark of the philosophy on the estate, while perpetuating its traditions in the greatest respect for both vines and winegrowers.
As the source of some of the most vibrant and powerful white wines in France, Condrieu is uniquely situated in one of the northern outposts of the Rhone River. It is the original Viognier appellation with a wine growing history reaching back well over two thousand years. Like most of the wine regions of the Northern Rhone, Condrieu’s vines grow on extremely steep and narrow granite terraces. But what makes the region unique is a topsoil, locally called, “arzelle,” made of decomposed mica. This and a sheltering of the harsh northern winds, make optimal sites to produce opulent and brilliant Viognier. It is a tiny zone with no room for expansion and produces miniscule amounts of wine each year, contributing to its allure.
A fine Condrieu will have aromas and flavors suggestive of ripe stone fruit, lime peel, green almond, ginger, white flowers and toasted nuts. A honeyed smell may mislead you to think the wine will be sweet but the modern style favors totally dry on the palate. Its texture will be full and soft but a touch of mineral will provide great balance.
Full-figured and charmingly floral, Viognier is one of the most important white grapes of the northern Rhône where it is used both to produce single varietal wines and as an important blending grape. Look for great New World examples from California, Oregon, Washington and cooler parts of Australia. Somm Secret—Viognier plays a surprisingly important role in the red wines of Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône. About 5% Viognier is typically co-fermented with the Syrah in order to stabilize the color, and as an added benefit, add a subtle perfume.