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Tucked right up in the north of the Rhône Valley on the river’s right bank we find Condrieu, an appellation celebrated for its legendary white wines.

These are made from Viognier grapes, planted on narrow terraces, here in their spiritual homeland. The true Condrieu aficionado will know to move away from the village centre, and will explore the winding maze of hillside vineyards in search of the grapes of this famously aromatic, golden wine. The AOC area measures some 200 hectares and has become a global standard, particularly in the US.

Condrieu

History

1940
1940

Birth of AOC Condrieu


It is likely that Viognier has been grown in Condrieu since the time of the ancient Greeks. Emperor Domitian had the vines pulled up in 92 AD, as he felt they were a bad influence on his soldiers. Around 280 AD, however, emperor Probus had them replanted, declaring that on the contrary, their effect on the army was beneficial. In the 12th century, the area archbishop built a fortress overlooking the town to fend off enemy attacks. It still stands today. Like Saint Michel and Vérin, Condrieu then became home to the sailors who transported goods and people along the Rhône between Lyon and Beaucaire. Wines from Condrieu have been popular for many generations; they were particularly highly regarded by the Avignon Popes, while famous epicure Curnonsky believed they were among the best white wines in France. There were difficult times, of course. Phylloxera, the World War 1, the World War 2 and industrialisation all took their toll. By the 1950s, there were only a dozen or so hectares left planted with vine, across the communes of Condrieu, Vérin and Saint Michel. A handful of winegrowers however, the AOC revival started in the 1980s. Abandoned hillsides were replanted and terrace walls were rebuilt. In 1986, the AOC boundaries were revised, retaining only the slopes with the best exposure. Nowadays the AOC covers 200 ha of vineyards.

Geography

Territory

The appellation area encompasses the 7 communes of Condrieu, St Michel sur Rhône, Vérin, Chavanay, Saint Pierre de Boeuf, Malleval and Limony, in the Rhône, Loire and Ardèche départements.

Climate

The climate is largely continental, similar to Lyon, with a Mediterranean influence. Temperatures are very high in summer, as the orientation causes the sun-baked, rocky soils to store heat.

Soils

A particular geology

The right bank of the Rhône Valley between Saint Romain en Gal and Serrières is characterised by greatly contrasting landscapes. The Rhône’s most recent alluvial deposits, the flat terraces, come up sharply against the steep inclines that provide access between them and the Plateau de Pélussin. This is where the vineyards grow, clinging to the parent rock in long, narrow “chayées” needing constant upkeep. The deepest part of the rocky outcrops here is granite. Inside the altered fringe, the soils have a friable texture, while the fissures are rich in clay.

The fissures provide ideal conditions for the Condrieu vines to root and flourish, not least because the clay supplies moisture when most needed. The outermost layer of the fringe never becomes thick on the slopes, and is made up of altered and unaltered minerals, rock fragments and clay. The chayée terraces ensure this section of the vineyard never compacts, resulting in a soil that is richer in organic matter.

Key figures

Key figures of the appellation

100% white

Colors

42 hl/ha

Average annual yield

200 ha

Production surface area

8 388 hl

Total production

23%

Exportation

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