Condrieu is at the northern end of the Northern Rhône. It consists of seven communes located on steep terraced hills, where Viognier is the only variety of grape allowed in this appellation devoted solely to white wine. Any bottle originating from Condrieu is totally Viognier. Some say that low yields, difficult growing conditions and late harvesting contribute to the exceptional, concentrated flavours of Condrieu that ensure prices well over £20 a bottle.
Regulations restrict the maximum permitted yields to a low 30 hl/ha, despite this in the last twenty to twenty-five years yields have, on average, only managed to reach 15 hl/ha.
Close to Condrieu and sharing in the ancient history of Viognier is one of France's smallest appellation contrôlée of Château-Grillet (just under 4 hectares in size) where one owner produces great white wines; some would argue coming a close second to those of Condrieu. Grapes tend to be picked earlier than in Condrieu and are bottled later, being left in the barrel for up to 2 years before bottling. As a result the wine is often judged to be less concentrated, although it still gets good press and holds a high price. .... click here for more