The wines of Côte Rôtie, Condrieu and Saint Joseph
By John Wheeldon
This Guide was last updated on 08 August 2011
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More of a large village than a town, this is the main centre for Côte Rôtie and home to Guigal and many other producers. It largely consists of a main street (the N86) and some smaller residential roads running down to the river. It has a wonderful backdrop of steep slopes on which are the best vineyards of Côte Rôtie. The Côte Brune is immediately above Ampuis and the Côte Blonde just as you leave to the south. These and the surrounding vineyards are the best sites situated on schist rather than the more southerly Côte Rôtie vineyards which are on granite and produce lighter, more forward wines. At long last there is a new hotel and Giles Barge’s wife offers a chambres d'hôtes (see ’Places to Stay’), plus there are two restaurants/wine bars. Ampuis is also home to the main wine fair for Côte Rôtie in January.
This merits being called a small town and is more interesting than Ampuis with a centre set back from the main D386 (formerly N86) that has a range of small shops. Once again the vineyards rise behind the town and many of the best including Vernon and Côte Châtillon are here. However, location is not as critical as for Côte Rôtie and there are good vineyards and producers of Condrieu all the way to Limony. Georges Vernay (for long the mainstay of Condrieu) is located here but surprisingly few other winemakers. The pricey Beaurivage hotel restaurant here has a mixed reputation and other good establishments are harder to find than previously, but there is an excellent wine shop (see ’Wine Shops’).
Not strictly within our area as it is located away from the vineyards. However, this is only 20 minutes drive and an interesting larger town. Its main claim to fame (apart from the cheese factory – Pavé d’Affinois) is that it house the offices and tourist centre (Maison du Parc) for the regional park – Parc Naturel Régional du Pilat (see 'Other Interesting Attractions' below).
Vienne is a mid-sized, quite ancient town on the east bank of the Rhône, just to the north of the main Rhône Valley wine regions. It is famed for its many historical monuments, most notably the Roman amphitheatre above the centre, which plays host to a famous jazz festival every summer (see 'Events'). The choice of hotels and restaurants in the town are either very expensive (the famous La Pyramide) or more chain-type hotels and simple brasseries. Unless you specifically want to visit the town, avoid it as it can become choked with traffic. To the north are the revived vineyards of Seyssuel.
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