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The Wines

100% Viognier from Jeanraude (blue granite), also rented Poncin 1950s vines at Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône, fermented, raised new 228-litre oak casks 12 months (until mid-2010s fermented 2-3 year oak, then raised 50-60% new, 40-50% 1-4 year 228-litre & 500-litre oak casks 12 months), lees stirred except in very cold weather, malo completed, "my keeping wine, decant it when it is young", has been 1,060-1,700 b, now 800-1,200 b

2019

(used 228-litre cask) shiny yellow; the nose is muscular, has a depth of white fruits, toasting, pear-apricot shrouded for now, is a sturdy affair. The palate is all close-knit, gas scale, a sense of firm insistence but not quite overdone. This requires patience, is very compact, is firm and sustained, the juice ekes out only, doesn’t flow as such, is thick. It needs a large glass and time, and I would not touch it until 2023. “I’d like to keep it 10 years,” F. Merlin. It’s 15.5°+. 2028-30 Dec 2019

2018 ()

(cask) shiny yellow robe; the bouquet is broad, presents discreet airs of exotic fruits, grapefruit, apricot, iodine or sea shore. It’s a restrained opening. The palate is threaded with carbonic gas, is stylish, has a buttery, flan-like flavour with custard notes, hints of tropical fruits. It’s a compact, sunshine wine, without the definition of a cool vintage, is a Steady Operator, for la table. Decanting will help. 15°. €45. 2024-25 Nov 2019

2017 ()

(new 228-litre cask) bright yellow. Has a white plum-peach aroma, oak toast, fennel present; it has style and foundation. The palate offers a compact train of white fruits, pear/apricot with a dose of Riesling petrol towards the finish; it shows tannins at the end from its oak. The second half is firm. There’s a good couch of content, has a red wine structure. “A pH of 3.8 is my concern, not a high acidity vintage,” François Merlin. 15°. 2023-24 March 2018

2016 ()

yellow robe. Peach stone, grape essence, crabapple and quince airs feature on the nose with oak toast. It’s not yet fully together, has weight. The palate sequels well from the nose, delivers a steady roll of ample content with several layers of dimension. It’s tucked up for now. The palate is more backward than the nose. It has a sit down à table depth, but a good glint of orange peel, citrus towards the finish. The length is good, sustained. It is a manly Condrieu with heart and persistence. Four casks made this year – 1,216 bottles. 14.5°. 2025-26 Mar 2018

2015 ()

1) (228-litre cask, sugars not completed, at 994 now) ***** has a wide, forward aroma, no holding back, bright pear fruit on display. The palate has inner punch, a lot of rich heart. This is copious but free, and an unusual combination. Very good elements for the future. The length is sustained. 15°. 2) new 228-litre cask, sugars not completed, at 992 now) ****(*) the aroma is wide, like pear in syrup, cooked peach, has lift in it. This is solid, all the more so due to the oak. It really kicks in late on, punchy and full. It is long, rather meaty, is a really structured, table wine. “New oak was required to give freshness in 2015,” François Merlin. 60% new, 40% 2-3 year casks. 1,060 b. 2024-25  Oct 2015

2014

yellow colour; toasted airs, vanilla – the nose shows the oak in the front stage, comes with an aroma of apricot juice within. This starts with a fine white fruit flavour, notably peach with white plum; the second stage is cool. This is less robust and more stylish than the Jeanraude 2013, and will sing more than that. The set-up and the frame here are firm. There is clear fruit on the finish. An interesting wine, a slow gainer over time. Its finesse on the late moments is appealing. “It has a lot of power and freshness,” François Merlin. This was 100% new oak, not be design, though. 2021-22 Oct 2015

2013 ()

quite a full yellow colour. The bouquet is big and wide – it gives airs of mango, is developing exotic fruits, also offers apricot, pear, some aniseed. This has body, vigour, plenty of gras richness, a flavour of cooked peach and cooked pear. The interior is meaty. A robust wine suited to Vieille France cuisine, sauces, full flavoured dishes. It is tenacious on the exit, shows ginger and real late tang there. Only 30 hl/ha this year, with some rot, hence a concentrated crop. 14°. 2021-22 Oct 2015

2012

pear tints, cream in the pale yellow robe. This has the usual stuffing on the nose, is solid, closed, gives airs of melted butter and brioche. The bouquet is all as one, is promising therefore, even if not open now. The palate links closely to the nose: its thorough flavour is led by apricot, glazed fruits, then ginger and toasting towards the finish. It has restrained its sometimes spirity side. Its matter is sustained, close-knit, reaches out. From mid-2015. Decant this. Lots of food options: aubergines, fine spice dishes, sea bass, tuna, veal, but not seafood. “Put this aside for 2 to 3 years,” François Merlin. 14.1°. 2022-23  Nov 2013 Previously Oct 2012 **** (new 228-litre cask, sugars done, 2 weeks old) attractive air right across the glass – there is a sound foundation to the nose. The palate is gourmand, but also free in that it moves along, is not static. Good matter and freshness. A strong runner. It will go into used casks after its fermentation in new oak. “Belle profondeur, attractive depth,” F.Merlin. 6 years life, ****  Oct 2012

2011 ()

pale robe, subdued yellow; this has a wide, busty style air, bears cooked pear fruit, stone fruit, a little spice. Vanilla comes with it. It is not showing as much as it could, is not quite settled, has a dusty note. The palate shows more, declares more than the nose, contains good, sealed matter with a wavy depth about it. The flavour is attractive – there is more up front than in its later moments. A pocket of late tannins shows through, also. This has good, notably stylish length, is suited to white meats, curried chicken: it is up to complicated seasoning. “Blanquette of veal, caviar of aubergines would be good with this,” F.Merlin. It has lower acidity, less alcohol than 2010. Can live well. 14.5°.  2020-21  Oct 2012

2010 ()

mild yellow; the bouquet is attractive, is dense, complete and an ensemble: it is balanced, notably. It mixes banana, flan and brioche, is buttery, with dried fruits such as apricot. There is also toasting from its oak, which is absorbing well. The palate has a honeyed, fat debut, but moves well, leads to a scented tea, menthol uplift at the end. There is plenty here to provoke the drinker. There is some cashew nut, with vanilla pod at the end. The palate is wholesome, has flavour a-plenty. It is gaining ground as it takes up its oak. From mid-summer 2013. It deserves lobster, turbot, a good table. “Belle matter,” F.Merlin. It will live to 2023-24, on its power. 14.5°.  Oct 2012  Previously Nov 2010 ***** (new 228-litre oak) close-knit nose, promising depth, shows a good, full harmony, I note traces of fennel. Rich and broad start to the palate that comes with some meaty moments after half way. Has freshness and a fine richness on the finish. Stylish, gentle glow to this. A good year, with potential. “This has a lower pH than 2009, should live OK,” F.Merlin. Nov 2010

2009

even yellow colour; buttery, soft pear aroma with notes of flan, notable butter and lime tart. The palate starts richly, has glycerol; this has a big core, very much rolls out a ball of gras, and moves on that fat to the finish, has chewy moments. Dried fruits, fennel and oak combine in the aftertaste. Needs to focus its potential, and requires food – drink from spring 2011. Has good substance, is on its limit on power. Decant this. 2017-19 Nov 2010 Previously **** Nov 2009 1st cask - new 228-litre oak, 1950s Poncin vines: **** tight, bit strict oaking on the nose. The palate has gras in its texture, a real good late flourish and width – the old vines state their case. The nose is reserved. 9 years. 2nd cask – 2 year 228-litre cask, Jeanraude, 15 gm of sugar still to complete fermenting: **** very wide, sustained layer of aroma, bouquet has shoulders. The palate is intrinsically rich, indeed very rich looking beyond the sugar level. Loaded up wine that is big and imposing. Over 14°. Can live 10 years, say. 34 hl/ha this year. Nov 2009

2008

flinty robe; pear, vanilla, butterscotch nose with variety to come as it evolves, and a reassuring depth – pear tart, white pepper also come through. Has a harmonious, well-shaped debut on the palate, which carries itself well all along the route, with no gaps or bumps. Has a meaty, full finish, in its usual way. It quietens down at the finish, but ticks over. From mid-late 2010 –decant this. There is a clear tang in this young wine that has definite shoulders. A proper, serious wine with potential. Bottled Sept 2009. 13.8°. Only 1,300 b this year (usual is 1,500 or so). “Good with lobster, aubergines, curry,” F.Merlin. 2017-19 Nov 2009

2007

pale flint robe; the aroma is clear – mild banana mixed in with oak. The palate has an interesting reserve about it, with a subtle depth: it broadens gracefully and end nice and calmly. The oak will be more absorbed by late 2009. Good finish – a light touch chewiness. 2014-15 March 2009 Previously Jan 2008 ***(*) Cask 1, new oak **** malo not yet done: enclosed nose, with harmony in the pear aroma – also apricot, some brown sugar. Pretty palate, with a good, stylish and rich core, continues well. This has potential and good, solid fruit. Its new oak is taken care of by its inherent richness. 8 year wine, for instance. 14.5+° Cask 2, 2 year oak ***(*) the nose has some brisk air, with peppered dried fruits and good life in it. The palate is similar, declares well, and is elegant at its heart. Length good, nice sinew. Jan 2008

2006 ()

settled, quite buttery nose with a little pear, white fruit, mandarin and some white fruit jam. The palate has good ease in it, with a nice sense of direction. The fullness of the vintage is present via a little intensity in the baked tart flavour, perhaps of apple or citrus. Sustains well to the end. 14.5°. 2011-12 “I like its great, rich maturity, but it is also soft,” François Merlin. Jan 2008

2005 ()

yellow robe; there is an oak top to the streamlined apricot, brown sugar aroma, diced with a little mineral. Quite a bulky, solid palate, that is tightly packed. Holds some exotic fruit, and pineapple on the aftertaste – fenced in by its oak now. Leave till 2008. The wine is clearly cut, vigorous, with mineral on the finish, but its oak needs to settle. Chunky wine by design, with traces of alcohol. 14.5°. To 2011-12 Nov 2006

2003

wide, well-sustained aroma. Palate is deep, with a chewy content, is gutsy without excess. Wee burn on finish, it keeps going through the alcohol I suspect. Drink by 2008. March 2005

2002

quiet richness on nose, lime/pear; stylish gras, has purity, good bone, broadens across the palate. Elegant, good.

2001 ()

stylish, tight nose, some pear; tight, smoky palate, with oak presence. Quite sleek matter here, stone fruit with almost a tannic end. Can come along with time, leave till 2005.