Domaine Gérard / Condrieu/Côte Rôtie
Condrieu and Côte Rôtie from a young master
They’ve got the real estate, that’s a given. Slice of La Landonne, La Côte Chatillon, and Font-Jean contribute to the holdings, as well as vineyards much further afield. Add “… a young Vigneron who’s making outstanding wines,” (Jeb Dunnick, The Wine Advocate) in Xavier Gérard, and you’ve got a pretty compelling operation.
2013 was a watershed vintage for this address seeing son Xavier Gérard assuming full control of both growing and winemaking. As with many great family businesses, external experience was encouraged, with Xavier having undertaken vintages in South Africa, USA, Australia and New Zealand; add to this a clear streak of ambition apparent in having purchased his first vineyard at age 20. Expect an amplified presence of Domaine Gérard in coming years.
96% Syrah, 4% Viognier
Majority of fruit is from Mollard (lieu dit) with proportions of La Landonne, Viallière, and Font-Jean (Côte Brune and Côte Blonde, both sides of the hill, the former providing structure and savoury character, the Blonde the aromatic and fresher fruit components). 85% destemmed and aged 24 months in oak, 10% new. Intense and pure, ultra tight as a young wine, it reveals an architecture of ferrous mineral under dark berry fruits, olive tapenade and smoked deli meats. Serious and classical in feel, will easily take 15+ years of cellaring.
96% Syrah, 4% Viognier. SOLD OUT
When I first visited Domaine Gérard in 2015, Xavier already knew this harvest would be something special: "The old dudes in the Valley are saying this is the best vintage since 1947," were his words. Reviewed by Decanter Magazine as follows with a formidable 97 points:
"Immediate, ripe forest berry fruits spring from the glass and unfurl onto a rich palate with good concentration and smooth tannins. It is complex and glossy yet elegant with a fresh finish." Gearoid Devaney MS
"Classicism in every sense: gently reticent at first then a linear palate emerges, garlanded by red fruit and finely powdered tannins. There is quite an assertive undertow presaging an illustrious evolution." Simon Field MW
"Just 4% Viognier, but it makes itself known on the nose with a touch of stone fruit among the berries. Soft, ripe, yielding palate, but also concentrated and long, with fine tannins and brisk acidity leading to a long finish. Intense yet easygoing style – very easy to love." Matt Walls
La Côte Chatillon is a lieu dit at the top of the Condrieu hill. Edition 2014 is utterly captivating, oddly un-Viognier like, drinking in more ways like a top flight Chassagne. Peach flesh, nectarine, citrus and some oatmeal character make up its densely packed palate, with dustings of spice and fresh ginger powdering the lengthy finish. Pure, seductive, captivating, and certainly in the same class as great white Burgundy for refinement.
From Xavier's own vineyard, his first purchased, when he was 20 years old. A stern and serious style of Viognier – stone and rind characters provide a balancing nutty bitterness to savoury apricot fruit and spears of ginger. A rich and powerful wine which demands attention, and somehow navigates the tricky balance of reining Viognier's luxurious perfume around its potential to be overly oily or delicate.
Syrah from a north-east facing block by the village of Chavanay. A late ripening site raising deep, dark fruit and a peppery nose. 2016 sees this at the riper and richer spectrum of the village's style. Blue fruits, peppercorn, masterstock, cured and roasted meats, the shame here is the tiny allocation!
From two lieu dits - Marmouzin and and Corbery which meet at the river Arbuel, individually too small to bottle as stand alone wines. These sits are high on the Condrieu hill, and produce a cooler feeling, more mineral, and in Xavier’s words, terroir transparent wine.