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The Wines

Viognier from Condrieu (La Roncharde, 1987-89), Chavanay (Chanson, 1987), Saint Michel-sur-Rhône (Ruisseau Solin/Poncin) fermented, raised 25-30% new, 65-70% 1-5 year old 500-litre & 228-litre oak casks (in mid-2010s % of 500-litre grew from 10% to 60%, until 2008 was 70% oak, 30% vat) 12 months, malo completed, 5,000-8,630 b

2019 ()

1) (Roncharde/Château, Poncin, used 500-litre cask, largely the blend, sugars finished, malo not) ***(*) yellow robe; has an open, rather extravagant, not timid, overt buttery-floral nose. The palate is straighter, has spine, with cool white fruits, apricot-pear, shows tannin late on. It needs the spine and the cool notes. Citrus fruits, white raisin appear on the end, cool and sun together. 5 years 2) (Chanson, used 500-litre cask) **** yellow colour; the nose is ripe, but holds a mineral thread, some pear in syrup, is intense within. The attack is rich, firm, gives a muscled feel, with compact length all through. This will form a good foundation for the wine, has a red wine structure, the length good. “It has a belle bitterness,” F Merlin. 7 years Dec 2019


clear yellow robe; the nose is subdued, has a white fruits’ compote aroma, apricot, a buttery note, saline touches. The palate has good shape, is nicely upright, clear, gives a charming run of white fruited, floral content, with pockets of late freshness, detail in its delivery. It’s articulate, well made Condrieu, a graceful wine. 14°. €31. 2023-24  Nov 2019


shiny, pale yellow robe. The bouquet is starting to emerge, gives pear-apricot, table wax, vanilla, pear skin – it’s a classic Condrieu nose, has a calm width. The palate is composed of deft touches that accumulate well, has a wavy pear-fruited style, attractive mid-palate gras with firm grip on the close, a hint of tannin and a flavour of compote of white fruits there. There’s a touch of carbonic gas. It has overcome the year’s strength. It’s a bit opulent, but not too much. To 2024 Dec 2019 Previously March 2018 ***(*) 1) (Chanson, 1987 Vio, “my first vineyard”, 1 year 500-litre cask) *** yellow robe. Has a curvy aroma, white peach, musky flowers, is quite fat. The palate has beef, richness, density, manages a run of length, a hint of mineral near the finish. The flavour centres on stewed stone fruits. 4-5 years 2) (La Roncharde, 1989 Vio, used 500-litre cask) ***(*) fine yellow colour. Has a grapey, ripe peach, cooked lemon air, comes with some lift. This is a wavy, ripe affair, a bit more fresh than the Chanson 2017. There’s layered, fat content within. This is another early to drink wine. 5 years. 3) (Poncin at St Michel, 1950s+ Vio from 0.2 hectare, 1 year 228-litre cask) **** yellow robe. The nose has class, restraint, there is old vine sap here, an articulate apricot, cooked pear aroma. The palate exercises grip and control via a steady and pleasing run of mixed white fruits, roast nuts. The length is good, all is in sync. This is muscular inside. These three are all 15°. 6 years. March 2018


bright yellow. There is great minerality on the nose, rock n’roll, a hint of pineapple with apricot juice, cooked lemon. The palate has expressive, clear features, a bonny richness, a good light touch – that mineral runs truly though it. This is deft and clear, stylish, free and beguiling. It gives a flavour of apricot juice on the aftertaste. It is pretty natural, has good balance. “It has the freshness that was lacking in 2015 and 2017. I dropped crop for the first time in seven to eight years, which helped,” François Merlin. To 2022 Mar 2018


1) (La Roncharde, sugars completed, malo not, cask) **** wide, sustained nose, fruit with some punch in it. The palate gras is well set, plump, has a little tannins and inner strength. The finale is firm but quite fresh. Good length. 14.5°. “The yield was full up this year, 40 hl/ha. There was very little malic acidity this year, so the wines feel nearly finished,” François Merlin. 2) (1 year 228-litre cask, sugars completed, malo en route) **** yellow robe. Has a deep white-fruited aroma. This is graceful, with a keen gras in it, no chinks. It prolongs well. A good combination of depth and freshness, has style. 3) (Chanson, 1-year 600-litre cask) ****(*) the nose is curvy, inviting, has plenty of fat, is well fronted. This has a Chanson mineral thread, is right on the mark. Ace wine. It has very good gras and fruit, and clarity. 7 years. 8,630 b. 2021-23  Oct 2015

2014 ()

yellow robe. This has a bonny, graceful nose that is creamy, floral also – it leads on precise, clear pear fruit. The palate is enjoyable – this is a serene, easy to drink Condrieu with a light pear and greengage plum flavour. It lacks a bit of stuffing. Bottled 20 Aug 2015. 13.5°. “It shows attractive freshness on the end palate,” François Merlin. To 2018  Oct 2015

2013 ()

bright yellow. The nose is on the dumb side, in transition, away from its first flourish: restrained airs are led by pear, apricot, lime and Mirabelle plum. This has good style - a well textured, smooth gras is given. The attack reflects flan, apricot. It is a touch burnt on the late stages, has a bitter note. It gathers a light powder of tannin on the close, with smokiness, dried fruits. It has body weight, but isn’t completely harmonious. It’s fine with food, and goes well with grilled salmon. 13.5°. To 2020 Apr 2016 

2012 ()

pale yellow. Has a fine aroma that isn’t obvious, offers a discreet white plum, honeysuckle flowers, wee brioche depth, and notes of Bergamot, verbena, lavender: a very good, inviting start. The palate holds citrus fruit jam, has a growing grip towards the finish, stands on a quiet strength. Good Condrieu with the depth for sauced fish, traditional dishes, Asiatic cuisine, even curry. It is rich, authentic, ends freshly. There is a wee note of oak late on. Very good – very drinkable and stylish. “It has gras and balance,” François Merlin. 13.5°. 2019-20  Nov 2013  Previously Oct 2012 ***(*) (used 228-litre cask, sugars finished) pear, hazelnut, wide aroma, is deep, not massive, so good appeal in store. The palate has a fine debut, is firm after that; there is a certain amount of density here. (550-litre cask, sugars finished) pear, hazelnut, citrus airs. Stylish palate, with bite, extra weight at the end. Has gras and length, stylish is the word. It runs well. ***(*) to **** for this. 13.8° average this year.  Oct 2012


pale flint robe; has a discreet, notably rounded nose, reflecting pear, vanilla, is very harmonious and perks up with some orange zest. The palate takes up the theme of smooth elegance, followed by citrus, mandarin touches towards the finish. This ends with ease, tightening on its last moments. Tasty and fine wine. Decant this. “It is balanced, has depth, belle matter,” François Merlin. From spring 2013. 13.5°. Bottled 12 July 2012. To 2017  Oct 2012

2010 ()

deeper yellow than the 2011, with some advance. Has a wide, rather imposing nose, offers waxy, cooked pear, butterscotch, baked apple – the heavy guns are out in this ripe bouquet, also shows nut, peanut. The palate has a broad, fleshy debut; the pear gives a sense of high octane, also orange marmalade, fruit compote. Gutsy, thorough, dense in style. 2011 is better balanced. It revives on the finish, which is clear, not heavy. Time will help it. There is a final note of exotic fruit and spice, vanilla. It is interesting enough, is a wine for gastronomy. “Good with scallops, Coquille St Jacques,” F. Merlin. Is actually over 15°. 2020-21  Oct 2012  Previously Nov 2010 **** 2 casks tasted: cask 1 **** (500 litre new oak cask, from St-Michel and Châtillon, at 993 specific gravity now) gracious pear aroma, attractive roundness. Good, rich start to the palate, has plenty of heart, good length. The gras is persistent, nor is it static, flows. Promising wine in this raw state. To 2016 or so. Cask 2 ****(*) (228-litre oak cask, 1950s Viognier from St Michel) ****(*) insistent, full nose, has shoulders. Full and rich on the palate; its weight sustains all through, but a good sign is that the finish is free, complete. 2016. Nov 2010

2009 ()

fine yellow robe; soft nose that beckons, invites – shows light flan airs, gentle flowers, banana, spice. The palate is more compact and tight than the nose, has a full heart, its weight is assured. Buttery in texture, and there is late grip from its power. It is wide, has something of a red wine structure, ends quietly, perhaps showing the effect of its bottling two months ago. Decant this. To 2015 or so. “It was a bit more on its acidity and mineral before,” F.Merlin. Nov 2010 Previously Nov 2009 ***(*) 1st cask - Chanson, 5 year 228-litre oak, malo not yet completed: graceful, harmonious nose, softly cooked banana. Ripe palate fruit with an upright feel now, without the malo done. Good balance, it really extends along the palate. Bit of end heat, is 14.8°. 2nd cask - Ruisseau Solin, La Roncharde, new 228-litre cask: *** even yellow colour; fresh, spiced, oaked nose with a ripe, confident underlay. Muscled palate, but a clear wine, has gras. Oak marks it, but can enter. 3rd cask – La Roncharde, Ruisseau Solin, new 500 litre oak cask: ***(*) pear, banana, butter aromas – showy, but has restraint. Quiet depth and muscle on the palate, which carries all through. A manly wine that persists. Fresh, chewy end. Life of 6, maybe 8 years for this, definite promise, will show well around early 2011. Nov 2009

2008 ()

quite a full yellow; pear-varnish and wax first aroma, offers some shapely minerality, is opening up and evolving well. The palate has a greengage, white plum flavour, is flecked with mineral, is obviously looser than the 2009. It spreads and softens at the end. Air will soften it, so open ahead of drinking, or leave until spring 2011. Can serve as the aperitif. “It has a saline side, has quiet persistence,” F.Merlin. 2014-15 Nov 2010 Previously Nov 2009 ***(*) clear robe; pear, pear skin aroma along with a hint of beeswax and apricot/honey airs. It is clear, has cut and a firmness in it. The palate has an easy, elegant style with a gain in “steel” and tightness towards the finish that helps it to exit the stage on an accomplished, clear note. Licorice is in the aftertaste, and an attractive, quiet richness. Stylish, bright, good wine. It can do very well as an aperitif. “At first it was primary, raw, but it has gained gras and fruit. When I pressed the grapes I found sucrosity, not vegetal notes, so I was not worried. I would drink this with quenelles of pike (brochet), Saint-Jacques (scallops) or foie gras. I find it very fruity,” F.Merlin. 13.5°. Bottled one month ago. To 2014. Nov 2009

2007 ()

pale yellow; the nose is low profile, being suggestive rather than open. One can detect compact white fruits, peach apricot, along with a curve of flan for extra roundness. The palate is tasty, ripe, rich on the debut and filled with good content. Has a solid heart, runs well on to a ripple of power as it closes. A good mix of elegance on the bouquet and power on the palate. 14.5°. To 2013. Sept 2009 Previously March 2009 **(*) pale robe; pear aroma that is accompanied by a spice freshness, is an airy bouquet. The palate tastes of honey and apricot – this is a light touch wine. It keeps a straight path, is crisp at the end. Light and fragrant, it lacks a little body. Aperitif best, rather than food with it. To 2011. March 2009 Previously Jan 2008 **(*) (vat part) ** malo not yet done: fresh outer air, with some honey inside the aroma. The palate skips a beat at the start, then rolls along. This is a mid+ year, with aromatics to the fore. (cask part, old vines): ***(*) some depth in the nose, honey-oak, has a good “fabric”. There is definite core to the palate, with some subtle extras that add interest. Fin, beau vin. 14.5° Jan 2008


broad, quite punchy nose, has a sweep of tangy lime, a little spice and white pepper – its shape is square rather than round. The palate has a forward, also muscular attack, then softens towards the finish. Has a thorough core, with a rather tannic late character. Food best for this, ahead of the aperitif. There is a touch of burn on the aftertaste, with late acidity. Better from late 2008. 14°. To 2013. Jan 2008

2005 ()

honeycomb, supple and rather gracious nose with some reserves for the future – shows a definite ripeness. The flavour is honey, quite earthy, towards truffle (F.Merlin finds menthol). This is well sealed, has a compact charm. Sound length. It is just at the start of its second stage. Can go as aperitif wine but especially simple foods. 2012-13 Jan 2008 Previously Nov 2006 ***(*) bright yellow, lime colour; reserved bouquet, shows some honey and a classic structure to offer more in time – is fresh and there are notes of banana flambée now. Dried fruits of pear and apricot lead the palate, with a subtle display of light tannin at the end. Even though it is full, it comes in a fine package – flows well and its acidity is constructive. Finishes freshly, within some clear matter. A touch of late heat. More together from mid-2007. 14°. To 2009. Nov 2006


consistent, compact bouquet. Pretty freshness on start, and rich matter in mid-palate. Promising, elegant, STGT wine. Plenty of richness to marry with its freshness. To 2011-12 March 2005

2003 ()

buttery, refined bouquet, includes some spice and a salty tang. Good mix of richness and restrained, light pepper, wine with sinew and style. Oak is sprinkled on finish, length good. March 2005 "The oak level was 80% this year, to add freshness and mineral, and also to not allow the alcohol to be too dominant." F.M.


pear-inspired aroma; decent weight wine, is getting 25% Jeanraude to beef it; has sinew and some pear fruit. Quite clean.


gentle pear, touch of oak, apricot and light spice. Nice quiet warmth, good texture, discreet fat with a dried fruits end.