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Château-Grillet may well be named for the sun-baked – “grilled” – hillsides surrounding it.

The same name applies to the Château itself, the hamlet in which it lies, and its vineyard. All were officially recognised on 15th May 1976 as a French National Heritage Site, singled out for their outstanding beauty and rich history.

Château-grillet

History

1936
1936

Birth of AOC Château-Grillet

The history of Château-Grillet and Condrieu are closely intertwined. Both vineyards are said to have been planted by the emperor Probus in the third century AD, with vines brought in from Dalmatia. There is plenty of evidence to support this version of the area’s viticultural history, notably in Saint-Roman-en-Gal where one of the many mosaics unearthed by archaeologists depicts a harvest scene, while another features grapes being crushed. The early development of the vineyards is arguably linked to the Pax Romana, when the local Alloboges tribe, whose lands included the section of the Rhône’s right bank overlooking Vienne, were authorised to seek Roman citizenship; this in turn would grant them the right to plant vines.

The vineyards are frequently mentioned in travel journals dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. From these, we know that the Château wines were featured in the most notable cellars of the day. A cellar inventory drawn up in 1814 after the death of Empress Josephine de Beauharnais lists “two hundred and ninety-six bottles of Château-Grillé wine” among its “best crus”.

And while the histories of Château-Grillet and Condrieu are linked, there is one distinct difference – Château-Grillet used to belong to middle class owners hailing from Lyon. It was awarded AOC status in 1936, and now has only one owner.

Geography

Territory

Château-Grillet lies between Vérin and Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône in the Loire département, on the right bank of the Rhône just south of Vienne.

Climate

The vines are planted in a natural amphitheatre formation, facing south, and enjoy a superbly hot and sunny microclimate, sheltered from northerly winds.

Soils

A particular geology

Viognier is the key varietal, producing intense, mineral-rich, beautifully taut wines. The soils here have two very distinct geological backgrounds:

Ancient biotite granite from the Palaeozoic era, made up of quartz, feldspar and mica eroded to give sandy soils with varying clay content;

More recent deposits of loess (aeolian sediment dating from the Quaternary), found occasionally in the natural land depressions.

The soils are poor, but free-draining and robust, perfect for producing great wines. The friable subsoils allow vines to root deeply in their search for water and minerals.

Key figures

Key figures of the appellation

100% white

Colors

18 hl/ha

Average annual yield

3 ha

Production surface area

61 hl

Total production

3%

Exportation

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