“But of all the white wines made from the Viognier around Condrieu, the palm must go to a very great, exceptional, marvellous and suave white wine: the most rare Chateau Grillet”
Curnonsky, The Prince of Gastronomy
Writing in the 1920’s, Curnonsky was simply reflecting accepted wisdom. Chateau Grillet was, in his estimation, one of the top five white wine vineyards of France (along with Montrachet, Yquem, Coulée de Serrant and Château Calon). Made from 100% Viognier, Chateau Grillet is one of the smallest appellations in France, nestled inside of Condrieu in the Northern Rhone Valley, its total vineyard amounts to less than 10 acres. Like Romanee Conti in Burgundy, Chateau Grillet is a monopole; an appellation from which only one wine is made by only one producer.
Owned by the Neyret-Gachet family since 1825, but with a history stretching back to Louis XIII, Chateau Grillet was one of the most esteemed wines of the Northern Rhone throughout the 19th and 20th century (fetching the same prices as the best Cote Rotie and Hermitage). Unlike Condrieu, which is generally meant to be drunk with little bottle age, Chateau Grillet ages like fine White Burgundy and possesses “a discreet elegance, a classy finesse unusual in wines of this region.” (John Livingston Learnmouth, Wines of the Northern Rhone).
In 2001, Bordelais white wine master Denis Dubourdieu was brought in as winemaker. Dubourdieu owns the famed Sauternes Doisy Daëne as well as highly respected Graves property Clos Floridene. He is the director of General Oenology at the University of Bordeaux, is considered one of the world’s leading experts in white wine vinifaction and consults for Haut Bailly and Cheval Blanc, amongst others. His presence was swiftly felt, prompting British Wine critic Jancis Robinson to say, “Even the most jaded wine enthusiast would be fascinated by this evidence of a new era at this famous white Rhône landmark.”
In 2011, Chateau Grillet was purchased by François Pinault, owner of Chateau Latour. Pinault and his estate manager, Frédérick Engerer, have vowed to place Chateau Grillet back where it belongs; alongside the undisputed legends of white wine.
The 2008 is intensely mineral with notes of almonds, dried wild flowers wrapped in focused yet tropical fruit with a firm underpinning of acidity. The finish is full and honeyed with a further blast of mineral to add lift at the end.
Because of our long relationship with Chateau Latour, we are pleased to be able to offer Chateau Grillet for pre-order. Less than a thousand cases are made each year, so our initial allocation is less than 2 cases!