The Ogier family has been rooted in Ampuis for seven generations. From the age of six, current owner and winemaker Stéphane knew he wanted to follow in his winemaker father’s footsteps. In 1997, after completing his oenological studies in Beaune, Stéphane formally joined the family estate. The domaine produces wines from 27 acres of vineyards in some of the most famous Côte-Rôtie areas, such as Lancement, Côte-Rozier, and La Viallière. Aside from his Côte-Rôtie wines, Stéphane also produces a Côtes du Rhône (Le Temps est Venu) and several Syrah wines (L’Ame Soeur, La Rosine). In 20 years, total production has grown from 15,000 to 300,000 bottles. Today, the wines have become a reference point for the appellation and are sought after by the greatest chefs and most serious wine lovers around the world.
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.