France: Rhône Valley

Around Ampuis and Condrieu

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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Domaine François Villard

Address: 330, Route de Réseau Ange, 42410 Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône
Tel: 04 74 56 83 60  Fax: 04 74 56 87 78
Geo-coordinates:  Latitude: 45:26:37:67N (45.44380)    Longitude: 04:44:526E (4.73869) 

Based in a village, unlike most, set back from the road and hence more pleasant, François Villard is the whiz kid of Condrieu and Côte Rôtie - always on the move, acquiring new vineyards, trying something new. He helped create the new vineyard at Seyssuel to the north of Vienne and is even planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on land which resembles Burgundy to the northeast of Vienne. He is the darling of the French media and his wines are in all the top restaurants. They are modern wines, extremely well made and delicious and even better than they used to be as he is toning down the new oak, making more balanced wines. The wide range of white wines include three different Condrieus, fascinating to taste side by side, plus two late harvest Condrieus, a range of Saint Joseph and a Viognier Vin de Pays. The latter, Contours de Deponcins, is a bargain from just outside his top Condrieu vineyard. His reds are equally good. He has two good Côte Rôties and the top cuvée La Brocarde is concentrated and long, only available on very small allocation. There are also two red Saint Josephs – again the top cuvée Reflet is totally unlike any other Saint Joseph. To finish the reds there is François’ take on Saint Emilion – ‘Grand Grue Glacée’ (say it out loud) made from 70% Merlot and thus a Vin de Pays. The domaine is used to visitors and a tasting can easily take two hours if you show interest. To find the domaine drive up the hill through Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône and keep going until you eventually see a large new cellar on the right – to discourage casual callers, there is no sign. This is the grower most geared to serious visitors and will organise a good tasting given notice.

Useful information: Appointments essential. Small groups accepted. Not all staff speak English.


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