The why, the what and the how of...
A true treasure of the Northern Rhône, Château-Grillet is a monopole (owned by a single producer) by virtue of the fact that it is also has its own exclusive AOC (Appelation d’Origine Controlée) status within the boundaries of Condrieu, which was created in 1936.
Château-Grillet covers only 3.8 hectares. Situated within a natural amphitheatre, with south eastern sun exposure, the vines are sheltered from the cold north winds. Planted on terraces on steep granite cliffs, the vines benefit from a unique terroir and mesoclimate. The soil is lighter and more fragmented than in the Condrieu AOC. The estate’s vines average 40 years of age which results into very low yields.
The estate was acquired by the Neyret-Gachet family in 1830. They retained ownership until 2011 when the French billionaire, Francois Pinault, acquired this prestigious property. Today the estate produces, in a normal year, a minuscule quantity of approximately 10,0000 bottles. There was historically only one wine made, that of the Vin Blanc de Château-Grillet, but a Cotes-du-Rhone blanc was introduced in 2011 followed by a Condrieu in 2017 (only 600 bottles made). Such is the obvious risk of an estate’s entire wine production coming from one specific site, adverse weather conditions in 2013 resulted in the estate’s production totaling 5 barrels – this gives perspective as to what they are up against.
Winemaking here is about preserving and expressing this very special and mythical piece of land- grapes are whole bunch pressed and go through malolactic fermentation, followed by 18-24 months in 20% new wood.
Château-Grillet doesn’t show the obvious side of the Viognier grape – this is a wine that demands attention and expresses magnificent aromatic complexity whilst maintaining a great elegance and tightness. This is one of France’s most revered and famous terroirs and the fine wine world will be hopeful that the Artemis group can continue to capture the secrets of Chateau-Grillet as well as take this domaine to the next level.