Yves Cuilleron Viognier Les Vignes d'a Cote Collines Rhodaniennes 2020
The Viognier Vignes d’à Coté, meaning “nearby vines” is from vineyards of granite and alluvial soils located in the commune of Chavanay, which is close to the Condrieu appellation. The vineyard is sustainable with a natural cover crop to avoid erosion. This 100% Viognier sees a total of six to seven months in oak of varying sizes and ages.
This is an excellent introduction to Viognier with the tell-tale aromas of apricot, nectarine and floral honeysuckle on the nose. The palate is fleshy and ripe, with excellent acidity due to the low pH of the granitic base soils. This is simply a delicious, mouth-watering Viognier from one of the top producers in the Rhone.
For Yves Cuilleron, "making a perfect wine," a wine like every other, is inconceivable. He wants "a wine with Cuilleron’s signature!" A wine that bears the hallmarks of its terroir and vintage but also has its own, original character. Which is why Yves Cuilleron prefers parcel-based vinification; why he separates old and younger vines; and why he takes account of the various vineyard districts. Only then does he blend some of his cuvées (or not), if they are sufficiently similar. For Yves Cuilleron, nothing is written in stone. And, most important of all, he does not consider his wines in terms of a "hierarchy;" rather, each wine has its very own style. And style means zero compromise: if the cuvée is fruity-led, it is vinified accordingly. If it will benefit from aging, then his approach differs.
A long and narrow valley producing flavorful red, white, and rosé wines, the Rhône is bisected by the river of the same name and split into two distinct sub-regions—north and south. While a handful of grape varieties span the entire length of the Rhône valley, there are significant differences between the two zones in climate and geography as well as the style and quantity of Rhône wines produced. The Northern Rhône, with its continental climate and steep hillside vineyards, is responsible for a mere 5% or less of the greater region’s total output. The Southern Rhône has a much more Mediterranean climate, the aggressive, chilly Mistral wind and plentiful fragrant wild herbs known collectively as ‘garrigue.’
In the Northern Rhône, the only permitted red variety is Syrah, which in the appellations of St.-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie, it produces velvety black-fruit driven, savory, peppery red wines often with telltale notes of olive, game and smoke. Full-bodied, perfumed whites are made from Viognier in Condrieu and Château-Grillet, while elsewhere only Marsanne and Roussanne are used, with the former providing body and texture and the latter lending nervy acidity. The wines of the Southern Rhône are typically blends, with the reds often based on Grenache and balanced by Syrah, Mourvèdre, and an assortment of other varieties. All three northern white varieties are used here, as well as Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourbelenc and more. The best known sub-regions of the Southern Rhône are the reliable, wallet-friendly Côtes du Rhône and the esteemed Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Others include Gigondas, Vacqueyras and the rosé-only appellation Tavel.
Full-figured and charmingly floral, Viognier is one of the most important white grapes of the northern Rhône where it is used both to produce single varietal wines and as an important blending grape. Look for great New World examples from California, Oregon, Washington and cooler parts of Australia. Somm Secret—Viognier plays a surprisingly important role in the red wines of Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône. About 5% Viognier is typically co-fermented with the Syrah in order to stabilize the color, and as an added benefit, add a subtle perfume.