Wine Talk

Snooth User: Matchupichu

Condrieu: age or not to age

Posted by Matchupichu, Jun 5, 2010.

I have been patroling the internet to find out if Condrieu (Viognier from the northern Rhone) is worth aging - or even capable.  I have a 2006 Domaine du Chene that has been sitting in my fridge for some time now and have begun to wonder about its status.  Everything that I have read on the internet has been a bag of mixed opinions; saying that some Condrieu is worth aging and others are not, while others state clearly that Condrieu is to be drunk young (2-3yrs after release).  As my last bottle of this heavenly nectar ages in my fridge, I am wondering if it might be worth it to hold off for some time and let the wine age or just say "to hell with it" and open it.  Opinions - both professional and personal - are welcome because I am dumbfounded on this one.


Reply by dmcker, Jun 6, 2010.

If you've already had several bottles of it at younger status (my guess from your 'heavenly nectar' comment), why don't you let the bottle lay for a few more years and see how *you* like it.

I haven't had that much aged Condrieu, nor that much younger, either. Viognier is a hard wine for me to like, perhaps because I had so many damaged bottles (of Condrieu and others) earlier in my drinking career. I do know people whose opinion I respect who like it, though, and think it can age a bit. I know for sure that the reds from the same area can age quite well... ;-)

Reply by Matchupichu, Jun 8, 2010.

That is a good point Dm, maybe I will let it sit a few more... If I can keep my hands off of it.  I too have had a few Viogniers that have just dissapointed me, however, for someone who dislikes chardonnay and gets tired of sauvignon blancs (or lighter bodied whites); viognier/Condrieu is one of the heavier whites that I can enjoy, albiet they are few and far between!  Thanks for the guidance Dm!  By the way, that logo as your post image wouldn't be Darioush would it?

Reply by dmcker, Jun 8, 2010.

Not sure who the Darioush you refer to might be, since the only identities by that name I know are the Iranian filmaker from the '60s and '70s, or the winery in Napa that's trying a bit too hard to be a bit too exclusive. My avatar is from a Greek (Attica) black-figured plate, circa 520-500 BC. Dionysus is seated, extending a kantharos drinking cup, likley asking to be filled up.

So do you dislike even blanc de blancs champagne? Bummer for you. ;-)  I love those two varietals, as long as they're made well (which in the SB case usually means in France). What is it specifically about chardonnay, and SB, that you dislike?

Reply by WineNoob2010b, Jun 9, 2010.

I prefer my Condrieu young. I bought 12 bottles of Andre Perret Chery 2006 in summer 2008 and have drunk around a bottle every quarter since then. Over the last 6 months, the wine has lost a lot of its fruit... I'm going to cellar my remaining two bottles for a few more years, but honestly I do not expect a miracle.

Reply by Matchupichu, Jun 12, 2010.

Well Dm, I may have just misspoke earlier when I said that chardonnay bugs me, I do enjoy a good blanc de blanc, especially if it is from France, the California sparkling wines can be a bit funny to me, although not all of them.  However, I find a monotony in drinking chardonnay after chardonnay, and Sauv B. aftter Sauv B.  I say this more as a way to contrast the heavy bodied whites whith a lighter bodied white.  I do enjoy a good Puligny Montrachet, Poulliy Fuisse, or Chablis, but when drinking the heavier California chardonnays, I get tired of the heavy bodied, tropical fruit and want somthing a bit more refined.  So, I reach for the northern Rhone.  It is not that I dislike Chardonnay as a varietal, I just become tired of the similar flavors I find in a glass of California chard.  I am from california and it is hard for me to find anything else other than california chard, Condrieu contradictorly (Sp?) is just about as hard to find as a fine white Burgundy or Vouvray, which also I am very fond of.  Though there are some chardonnays that I have had from California, both Sonoma and Napa that I have been quite impressed with, though their price tag can be quite depressing; not everyday drinkers if you know what I mean.  I have a hard time trying to find wines that entice me to drink them more than one time.  Condrieu is one region that I can go back to over and over again and not be dissapointed by the lavish floral aroma, unlike some California chardonnays that have dissapointed me to the point that I am nauseated by their nose, namley: Rombauer.  Please excuse any spelling, sentence syntax, or overall grammar errors, I just got my appendix removed and I am on some pretty good painkillers! 

Reply by Matchupichu, Jun 12, 2010.

By the way, the Darioush I was going for was the want-to-be-exclusive Darioush!

Reply by zufrieden, Jun 13, 2010.

I know of the Napa winery Darioush - though I have not sampled the products made there. Darioush is, of course, Darius (or Dareíos) so could have been depicted on pottery relief etc. being the name of at least 3 Persian king of kings - including the last Achaemenid.

As for Condrieu, I find it over-priced so have not purchased many examples in recent years finding much better and cheaper expressions of Viognier elsewhere (especially Australia and other parts of southern France).  At one time, I had been advised to drink the youngest available - until I had an argument with someone in a wine shop about this advice many years back. Since then, I have tried aged Condrieu but still find the earlier advice holds for me: DYA.

In my opinion, the grape is just too spicy, flowery and forward.  In some limited ways, it might be compared to a New World expression of Gewurztraminer but with more finesse and power.  This overpowering scent makes the aging process hard to predict.  For example, will all those charming flowery elements rot into something like oxidized perfume?  

That's a significant risk, in my opinion. Viognier can be wonderful stuff, but I prefer to enjoy it at the height of its summery, youthful power.

Reply by Matchupichu, Jun 15, 2010.

I agree, Zufrieden, that I too enjoy viognier in it's youth; however, I read contradictions all over the place stating that Condrieu can age some years, that Condrieu can't age at all, or that Condrieu can be aged in all years.  The problem with that (aside from the pin-balling contradictions) is that when I look for information on the specific year and the winery that I am looking to age, there is no information to be found.  I am also intrested in what the last bottle of this stuff is doing, it is not cheap you know!  But I might as well let it do its thing, seeing as this is the last bottle.

Reply by zufrieden, Jun 15, 2010.

Yes, that can be another problem - not knowing what to do with a specific bottle by a specific producer.  My only advice is to track down the producer (hopefully via website) and try asking for the opinion of the owner or wine maker directly.  That sometimes works, so don't be bashful.


Reply by cigarman168, Jun 15, 2010.

My opinion for Rhone wines is to drink it earlier except some from chateaunef du pape

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