In a nutshell: An impressive, rich and complex Condrieu from the northern Rhône.
The lowdown: Condrieu is made from 100% Viognier and this area is considered the variety's spiritual home. Some of the world's finest white wines come from this tiny appellation sat on the steep slopes of the Northern Rhône Valley where vines have been cultivated since Roman times. This fine example is from one of the regions top producers and is deep golden in the glass with rich exotic fruit, acacia blossom, apricot and peach aromas. Rounded and full-bodied it has a long, complex and clean finish.
When to drink: It's great as a stand alone aperitif or when matching to food goes excellently with goat's cheese and also oriental cuisine.
Indisputably one of the Rhône's great names Chapoutier was originally established in 1808 and is based in the town of Tain l'Hermitage on the banks of the river itself. Today overall extent of the estate is huge, with vineyards along the whole length of the Rhône region together with substantial holdings in Roussillon. They are also in the Alsace, The Douro valley in Portugal and have 58 hectares in the Australian state of Victoria.
Whilst for much of the 20th century it's fair to say that their standing among Rhône valley producers had dipped somewhat things changed dramatically from 1990 when Michel Chapoutier took over from his father Max. Michel was one of the pioneers of biodynamic viticulture and his personal devotion to this principle combined with the ownership of some of the most favoured sites in the region has propelled the estate back to the front rank of Rhône producers. Soils on their estate never see artificial pesticides or herbicides and floral growth among the rows is considered essential in coaxing the best out of the vines. One small point of interest about their labels is that they are all printed in Braille and have been since the mid 1990s.
They currently own the largest biodynamic vineyard in Europe and produce some of the Rhône's most famous wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the south to Hermitage and Condrieu in the north. Under the energetic Michel Chapoutier they are constantly seeking out top quality vineyard sites and this is certainly one of the factors that put them at the forefront over recent decades.