Andre Perret Condrieu “Chery” 2012

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This single vineyard Condrieu epitomizes that the very best Viognier grows in only the best plots of the tiny village of Condrieu in France. I mean Viognier with explosive aromatics but just enough retained acidity to avoid becoming the brown banana of white wines. I mean Viognier with structure and minerality. Viognier with length. Viognier with charm. And Viognier that can match with food rather than act as Pina Colada. These are difficult feats. They are all achieved by Perret’s reference-class single vineyard Condrieus, Chery and Clos Chanson.

Reference Viognier

Soils are the classic granitic with mica and schist of the vineyards around the village of Condrieu. These poor well-drained soils do well for Viognier, which so easily ripens unevenly and produces gloppy uninteresting wines. The 60 year old vines of the Chery vineyard give it character. The fermentation in ⅓ steel and ⅔ oak is noticeable in the final product – fresh but full.

The "Chery" Vineyard

The “Chery” Vineyard

Low-acid white varieties are out of fashion these days, with the trends moving toward the much more acidically aggressive white wines of the Loire, Austria, Germany, and the Jura. In contrast to this trend (which I appreciate somewhat), I have always had a penchant for the low acid varieties of the Rhone Valley: Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier. These grapes are often maligned, but mostly because they are extremely difficult to work with.

I am a huge fan of texture in white wine. I think it is something great white can do that red cannot. There is a different range of texture available to whites. The high acid whites often do not have as broad a range as the Rhone grapes, which can offer both lighter, wispy texture and waxy, mouthfilling texture. Both are pleasurable. I also enjoy the range of secondary flavours the wines excel at: honey, nuts, flowers. In my view, when done well these wines are equal to great white Burgundy. But I am in the minority.

The Perret Chery is iconic Condrieu. It is the perfect example of balanced, dialed in texture and flavour – expressing each without overdoing either. It paired beautifully with organic pork chops and grilled peaches. Anyone seriously into Rhone white varieties should taste Perret’s single vineyards. It is a shame they are not imported into Canada. Kermit Lynch imports these into the US.

Excellent to Excellent+
40 Euro in Lyon

Comments

  1. Chris Wallace
    August 2, 2015

    You make a very good point about the current trend towards higher acid whites and I agree: that juiciness comes at the price of less texture. It is too bad we see so little white wine from the Rhone here in BC. BTW, keep your eye on Washington State. A few vintners there have pursued the white varietals from the Northern Rhone with very good results. And very fair prices, too.

  2. Shea
    August 2, 2015

    Chris, what are your picks for the WA producers making good Rhone-variety whites?

  3. Chris Wallace
    August 10, 2015

    I really like the Lauren Ashton Roussanne. DeLille also does a terrific one. Forgeron’s Metis Blanc is a lovely blend and K Vintners does a voluptuous Viognier. Darby’s “Le Deuce” is a blend, very tasty and a terrific value.

  4. Simon Wood
    November 6, 2015

    I have just drunk this and you have done a great job epitomising what is wonderful about this wine that you don’t get elsewhere – much Condrieu can (like White Burgundy) be over oaked and imbalanced, this provides a ‘mouth feel’, or as you so rightly say texture, you never get in reds anywhere really in whites because of the nature of the viognier grape which so rightly has its home here. Lovely wine.

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