March 8-9 More Northern Rhone

9 Mar

We started the first day with a visit to the local cooperative Cave de Tain, which has two wines at Pairings. The cooperative is very organized and new, impressive in that way. We were toured by one of two winemakers, Olivier Ciosi, who is very nice, and also is in charge of quality control.

Touring Cave de Tain

They make more syrah than any other winery (in the world?), with grapes coming from many places in the area. The wines are very nice, perhaps a touch below some others we tasted previously, but probably have a much lower price. The rose was not good, but the last two reds were excellent…possible ones to look into. Interestingly, they have land right next to Chapoutier (see signs in picture).

Signs for Chapoutier and Cave de Tain

Then we headed to the most northern part of the Rhone Valley, which had Condrieu (Viognier) and Cote Rotie. After checking in, we drove to Ampuis, looked for E. Guigal, but didn’t see any place to park or door to go into. We called later and they didn’t have anyone to take us around. Neither we nor our distributor had been able to set up an appointment in advance…so the heck with them…I guess they’re too famous (read arrogant) to even respond. We parked in the square, and walked across the street to an open cave:

Domaine Gilles Barge – This was a very nice tasting with a small winery with limited export to the US…but she’d be interested. The condrieu was delicious, apricots and a touch of honey, clean and long. We had three Cote Roties, two especially excellent. We should look into getting these wines. Barge turned out to be our favorite from this area. We returned later to buy two bottles (of the five pictured).

Domaine Barge Bottles

Domaine Jasmin – We walked a little ways to Jasmin, and only the mother of the winemaker was in. She graciously took us in, gave a little tour and tasted us on their two wines. One was an inexpensive table wine which we haven’t seen in this ares.

Hillside Vineyards

George Vernay – We drove to Condrieu, and saw a sign for this winery along the road and stopped in. This is the “premier” winery in this area.…we’d wanted to go to but hadn’t been able to schedule an appointment. The owners are in the US, but a pourer was there….what luck…they’re closed the next day. The Condrieu was spectacular (3 of them), as expected, 5 wines ending with a Cote Rotie (with 10% viognier, but couldn’t tell the difference, probably because it was recently bottled. We’d had a vin de pays from them at dinner several days ago, which also was very nice, and not as expensive.

I like the phrase regarding spitting “I propose, you dispose.”

The next day we called and got an appointment at Vignobles Levet, which is highly regarded, imported by Neil Rosenthal.


The woman winemaker was very nice, as were the wines. We bought a red to take home.

Then we went across the street to a farmer’s market, got some cheeses (a goat crottin and another small goat cheese of the area called Rigotte de Condrieu), along with some green olives stuffed with blanched almonds and a baguette.  A wonderful lunch, all for under 5 Euros…then took a nice long walk around the area, to the Rhone and then over to the steep hillsides with 2 meter stakes for the vines, which are small right now.

Next was an appointment at Domaine Neiro, which we’d seen in the window of some wine stores…but were not impressed….but saw a nice wine press. Wine Press and RayWe drove to Chavanay, another wine town, and walked around.

On a whim, we stopped at a winery called Corps De Loup, which was up a winding long driveway. They are not distributed in the US….have some nice reds, including one from an AOC that we’d never heard of, so we bought one to bring back.

The final stop was at Vidal Fleury, which is old and big, with a nice new facility. They don’t release the wines until they’re ready to drink, which we like. The reds were some the nicest drinking in the area. We found out that Guigal owns them, although they operate separately, with different importers etc. They have wines from many areas of the Rhone, but we just tasted the ones from this area.

We’re going to have a “home-made” meal tonight at the hotel (a Logis), and tomorrow we’re off to Paris.


One Response to “March 8-9 More Northern Rhone”

  1. David March 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Sounds like some good tastings. I look forward to trying some you bring back!

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