Our tasting impressions
Pichon’s 2015, was the best young Condrieu I had tasted and then came 2016. All the best attributes of the prior year - gorgeous and ripe fruit, dynamic and exotic floral aromas as well as more vibrance than one expects from Viognier - but the ‘16 adds pristine balance, an extra layer of depth and is more provocative. This is special!
About this wine
100% Viognier from vines ranging in age from 3-60 years on south-facing granite slopes and southeast facing granite terraces. Yields are 37 hl/ha. Aged in 30% new oak barrels and 50% one-year old oak barrels.
About the grape
Viognier is a relatively low acid, higher alcohol grape that can provide a full wine with delicate flavors. Usually very floral and often displaying tropical fruit flavors. The wines generally are intended for early consumption when the fruit is freshest, but the Pichons treated us to a tasting of several older vintages of their Condrieu and two out of three were interesting and enjoyable despite the vines being very young when they were produced. Just be prepared for a very different experience featuring musk and oxidative notes.
About the vintage
Condrieu was among most the most successful appellations in the Northern Rhône in 2016. It was spared the spring hail that reduced yields just to the South. The biggest challenge was achieving requisite ripeness due to a rainy spring followed by a very dry summer. Those who waited long enough to pick were able to produce wines of great transparency.
On your table
The aromatics and complex flavors of Condrieu are muted at refrigerator temperature. Too warm and they will seem flabby and alcoholic, so serve at 48-50°F. For a complimentary pairing, try it with a creamy shrimp risotto with a bacon garnish. To provide some contrast, add some fresh ginger. Also hearty cheeses like Gruyere, young Cheddar or Manchego are nice.
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The Pichon family is a growing force in the Northern Rhône region. Christophe and Isabelle continue to steer the 18 hectare Domaine, but their sons, the third generation - Corentin, the principal winemaker and Alexis, who focuses on sales and marketing - are making their mark.
Based in Chavanay, the Pichons produce wines of elegance and finesse in a variety of appellations. Chemical treatment of the mostly Syrah and Viognier vineyards is kept to a bare minimum.
The joy of this family of eight is evident in their wines. VDLT has been visiting the Pichons for many years and is proud to include them as a foundation of the portfolio. Last year, Alexis visited New York for the first time for a VDLT tasting event. We enjoyed introducing him to some of NYC’s finest, as well as bringing him to tour one of the best wineries on Long Island.