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Condrieu Janrode

Condrieu Janrode
The Janrode vineyard produces a Condrieu that often challenges the trade's expectations with higher acidity, mineral and stone aromas and aging potential of 5-10 years. The Janrode vineyard is sandwiched between the infamous Château-Grillet (the Rhône's smallest A.O.C) and the village of St-Michel-sur-Rhône, hugging the western bank of the Rhône between 20 and 150 meters above the water. Standing at the very top and looking down, one can not see the base of the slope. For those that find pleasure in winter sports it is very much like standing on the edge of a snow covered face where you must trust the bottom is "somewhere" down there.

-100% Viognier
-Harvest is usually late September to early October
-A.O.C. established 27 April 1940 with 104 HA in production today

-Vines are 15 to 25 years old
-Extremely steep southeast facing slope
-Sandy soil of dark granite and decomposed black mica

Vintage Notes

 

Wines  The Condrieu Janrode is a brilliant yellow with hints of green. The bouquet offers elusive and tantalizing aromas of tropical fruit, minerals and wet stones. Fresh and crisp on the palate, these elegant wines are perfect as an apertif or pair well with seafood, strong (bleu) cheese and spicy Indian and Asian foods and will age for 5 to 10 years.

 
The view
 
Vineyards  The Janrode vineyards site on an exceptionally steep, southeasterly facing slope. It is planted with 100% Viognier and the vines are on average 20 years old and are planted on terraces, oriented parallel to the slope with rows spaced about a half meter apart. With a slope of 53%, the vineyard demands manual work, which includes harvesting with small baskets that are carried by hand up the steep vineyard slope to the road above where the trucks quickly take them to the winery.

Terroir  Located about 40 KM south of Lyon and a mere 3 KM south of Ampuis (the capital of Côte Rôtie), Condrieu sits on the steep hillside behind the village of its namesake. The name Condrieu is derived from coin de ruisseau, which literally means 'bend in the stream.' It is here that the Rhône takes a large but gentle turn, which provides the finest vineyards with superb southeasterly exposure on the hillside above the cold waters of the Rhône.

The French call the sandy soil arzelle and firmly believe it is a prerequisite for growing quintessential Condrieu. The crumbly soil is a mixture of decomposed granite, mica, shist and clay. In the Janrode vineyard, the arzelle is is a much darker gray because the mixture includes dark granite and decomposed black mica leading the wine to have greater acidity.

The windy mesoclimate combined with the southeasterly exposure provides the perfect balance to mother nature. Viognier, which is unpredictable at the best of times, is prone to powdery mildew. The Northern Rhône is infamous for heavy rains and the harsh northern winds of le mistral. Here, the wind ventilates the slope, keeping the vines naturally healthy and free from pests and mildew while the southeasterly exposure shelters the vines during flowering from the most powerful gusts of le mistral.

History  Condrieu has a long and disputed history with scarce and often contradictory documentation. On the one hand, many historians argue that Viognier (along with Syrah) was brought up the Rhône by Greek sailors between 600 and 400 B.C. But others, including locals to Condrieu who can trace their ancestry nearly back to the Romans, firmly believe it was the Romans, under Probus, who "imported" Viognier from Dalmatia during the 3rd century. Regardless, the first written account of Condrieu dates much later to 960 A.D. and not until 1450 were the people of Condrieu citizens of the jurisdiction of Lyon and thus allowed to sell their wines in Lyon.

Still, Viognier remained a local's wine until the late 1800s when there was an increase in the plantings throughout France. But for Condrieu, the difficult agricultural conditions, higher paying alternative fruit more suited for the terrain, industrial development during the first half of the 20th century and two wars nearly wiped it off the wine region's map. By 1968 Condrieu had only 14HA in production but thankfully by the late 1970s the region was following it's neighbor Côte Rôtie, into a renaissance period where plantings dramatically increased to the point that the A.O.C. had to begin controlling yields. Today there are approximately 104HA with A.O.C. status in production.

 

Condrieu Janrode 2001

2001 began with a mild winter that was followed by a warm and wet spring. Flowering started towards the end of May. August was hot and dry with temperatures reaching 33°C. September was sunny and dry but a little cold. The grapes were harvested on September 21 through September 23.

The 2001 Condrieu Janrode is exceptionally complex, aromatic and well-balanced. It will age very well.

 

Blend: 100% Viognier
Alcohol: 13% by volume

 

Suggested Aging: 1 to 15 years
Cases Produced: 120

 
 

© 2003 Éric Texier