Domaine Cluzel, Condrieu
Domaine Cluzel, Condrieu

Domaine Cluzel, Condrieu

Northern Rhône, France 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$65.00

Domaine Cluzel, Condrieu

Oh, Condrieu. Despite its fame as one of the world’s most singular white wine experiences, despite the flutters of delight it elicits in somms and collectors alike, you just don’t see very much of it these days. No wonder, given the minute size of the appellation, the triple-digit price so many bottles carry now, and the leaden and boozy stylings of its top bottlings. Let’s call Domaine Cluzel’s Condrieu a corrective to all that, then: still produced in miniscule quantities, still carrying all the swooning floral charm and stone fruit depths only great Viognier can pull off, yet with a sense of freshness that’s rarely seen nowadays and a price tag that’s even rarer. If you, like so many of us, stopped hunting down great Condrieu years ago, allow the Cluzel brothers to welcome you back into the region’s jasmine-scented embrace. This is the new generation of Condrieu and if Cluzel is any indication, the future of the village looks very bright indeed. Welcome back to the cellar, Condrieu!

As dramatic viticultural landscapes go, little can compete with Condrieu. Here, at the northern end of the Rhône valley, densely-planted Viognier vines cling to hillsides so steep they can only be worked by man and horse. Terraces maintained for centuries keep topsoil from washing away entirely. This place is not for the faint of heart, and in fact around 1960 had become almost entirely abandoned. In 1970, literally only one producer – SommSelect favorite Georges Vernay – still worked in the appellation. He fought for the place’s reputation though, encouraged fellow farmers to return to its slopes of chalk and flint, and proved the struggle was worth it by turning out some of the most hauntingly aromatic white wines in the world. Thankfully, Vernay was successful and Condrieu is back in full flourish, with a new wave of dedicated farmers now working these special vines. 

Cave Cluzel represents the best of Condrieu’s next generation. Vincent Cluzel’s family has farmed vines in the Northern Rhône for decades. But Vincent struck out on his own in 2013, bottling a measly 500 cases for his first vintage. He brought a wealth of experience, having worked for years for local legend Yves Cuilleron, and over the past decade has managed to cobble together an enviable array of holdings in Condrieu, Saint-Joseph, and Côte-Rôtie. In 2017, Vincent’s brother Alexandre joined the estate. They both bring a thoughtful and technically-skilled eye to the winery, having studied winemaking in Beaune, but they stick to the old way of doing things. That means sustainable farming, hand harvesting, and spontaneous fermentation. 

The Cluzel brothers’ 2019 Condrieu was fermented in stainless steel before aging 10 months in French oak, only a small portion of it new. It pours a luminous yellow with hints of silver, and upon first whiff opens with a riot of classic Condrieu aromas. Ripe apricot, yellow peach, yellow plum fruits are wrapped in a wave of jasmine and rose petal floral tones, a fine throughline of chalky minerality and faint spice underneath it all. The palate is dense and lush, totally luxurious, but a closing flush of vibrant acidity keeps things from ever getting too opulent. It’s a wine of warming texture, a truly gastronomic wine that’ll show best alongside a special meal. There’s no better bottle to reignite our love for Condrieu!

Domaine Cluzel, Condrieu

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