You have to see Château Grillet to truly appreciate it. A true amphitheatre of terraced vines is carved into the perilously steep slopes overlooking the Rhône river. The small property sits below the majority of the vineyard, with lower terraces spreading right and left, and some new plantings curling away upriver towards Lyon.
Production is small – the entirely-Viognier vineyard is less than 4 hectares in size, and only a percentage of this makes the cut to become the flagship bottling. Though planted to the same variety as adjacent Condrieu, this monopole appellation makes wines that are a style of their own, ageing wonderfully in ways most Viognier simply cannot. Often the wines need a year or two to open up, in great contrast to most Condrieus which are at their best almost from the moment they are bottled. The name itself suggests why – grillet or burned refers to the suntrap that is the south-facing vineyards here. This spot of land has its own microclimate that sets it apart. Vine material and soil are also unique, something of key importance to the new(ish) owners.
In 2011 the vineyard became part of the Artemis group, owned by Francois Pinault and run by Frédéric Engerer. This put significant experience into the property, with the group also running Château Latour, Domaine d’Eugenie, Clos de Tart and Eisele Vineyard in Napa, amongst others. It also allowed for significant investment to take place. The drystone walls have been repaired and meticulously maintained. The vines have been retrained to improve quality and mitigate disease risk, with new plantings added and viticulture improved. Conversion to biodynamic farming has been completed. The tiny winery has been given all necessary upgrades, allowing each plot to be picked, pressed and vinified separately. Ageing takes place in barrel for 18 months, though the percentage of new oak has been reduced to 20%. The team has been expanded and renewed to ensure the greatest expertise and work ethic. Strict selection in vineyard and winery has increased production of a Cotes du Rhône white – formerly Pontcin – that offers a glimpse of the style and raises the level of the tiny production of Grillet itself.
Alessandro Noli ran the operation at Grillet until his move to run Clos de Tart for Artemis in Burgundy. Jae Chu is now the lead winemaker here, having worked within the Artemis group alongside her personal projects for some time. Originally from South Korea, she moved to Burgundy in 2008, training at Domaine d’Eugenie while our Master of Wine Thomas Parker worked the 2015 harvest there.
Recent vintages retain elements of the deep history here that dates back to Roman plantings in the 1st Century AD. Grillet itself has records of its celebrity dating back to Jefferson in the 1700s. In 1936 it became both one of the first and one of the smallest appellations of France. Older vintages had shown some heavy oak use and overly thick wines. New ownership has, however, endeavoured to raise the quality and prestige of this unique property to its deserved place as one of the world’s great wines. The oak is better managed, the fruit brighter and fuller, and the acidity notably higher, bringing greater precision and balance to the wines. Any avid collector of great white wines should look to include the new Grillet in their cellar – they will stand up to the best from both within and beyond the Rhône valley.
6 bottle minimum order
|BT||2 \ 0||24||3,400.00||12||24||377.77779066667||98.00||96.00||Chateau Grillet||0.75||30|
3 bottle minimum order
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6 bottle minimum order
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|Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.|