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2019 Francois Villard Condrieu de Poncins

2019 Francois Villard Condrieu de Poncins

94 DEC

Featured Review
Vibrant mandarin, really fresh and lively aromatic display. Has some glycerol gummy softness on the palate, but the wine has a nice sense of fluidity and brisk acidity. Very well balanced, fresh, clear-cut and precise. Well-integrated oak, fruit to the fore. Really deliciously drinkable. Drinking Window 2021 - 2030. Decanter

Decanter | 94 DEC

Critic Reviews

Vibrant mandarin, really fresh and lively aromatic display. Has some glycerol gummy softness on the palate, but the wine has a nice sense of fluidity and brisk acidity. Very well balanced, fresh, clear-cut and precise. Well-integrated oak, fruit to the fore. Really deliciously drinkable. Drinking Window 2021 - 2030.

Decanter | 94 DEC

Wine Details for 2019 Francois Villard Condrieu de Poncins

Type of Wine Rhone White
Varietal Viognier : Northern Rhone is home to some of the most hedonistic wines in the world, which can be greatly credited to the mighty Syrah grape.  However, the white grapes of the region produce wines just as dizzyingly spectacular and pleasure-inducing as the reds.  They may be overshadowed and overlooked, but not to be underestimated.  One such grape is Viognier, which hails from, arguably, the Northern Rhone’s most distinctive wine appellation, Condrieu.

The appellation of Condrieu was officially created in 1940; it has since been exclusively devoted to the Viognier grape.  However, the cradle of Viognier had enjoyed the presence of this mighty white for many centuries prior to its formation.  The first historical reference of Viognier was mentioned in the same breath as the Condrieu region in 1781, in Barthelemy Faujas de Saint-Fonds’ Histoire Naturelle de la Province de Dauphine, in which it was written as “Vionnier.”  It is likely much older and is speculated to have arrived to France during the time of the ancient Romans.  Nonetheless, the varietal enjoyed great fame and success in Northern Rhone up until middle of the 20th century when it nearly faced extinction.  With only 8 hectares remaining in the region (and the world) Viognier was slowly revived by devotees and advocates of the varietal and its fortunes have been reversed with greater regional, national and international plantings. 

Since its renaissance in the 1970s, the Viognier grape and the wines of Condrieu have gained increasing popularity among consumers and growers alike.  Today, Viognier represents nearly 5,500 hectares of vines in France.  It has traveled beyond its borders and is distributed among many localities in Northern Rhone, such as the neighboring hillsides of Chateau Grillet, Ampuis and Cote Rotie.  It is also gaining traction for its success in Southern Rhone and the Languedoc.  Some successful plantings have taken root in the soils of South Africa, Australia and California; however, the grape is fussy and needs great care and attention for it to prosper.

Viognier is known to be unforgiving and difficult to manage in the vineyards; it is hard to cultivate and not naturally inclined to producing healthy, reliable yields.  The thick-skinned, white and amber colored grapes are mid to late ripening and have naturally low acidity which require a great deal of sunshine to ripen properly.  It is quite sensitive to heat; too much direct sunlight can yield overblown, hotly alcoholic wines which lack the grape’s true characteristics.  Despite its difficulties, the grape reaches its true zenith in the hilly terrain and terroir of Condrieu, which is comprised of limestone, mica, schist and granite soils. 

The wines produced from Viognier are deep golden in color, with an unmistakable, heady aroma of apricots, peaches and honeysuckle.  Some wines take on herbal notes of chamomile, lavender, thyme and pine, depending on the location in which it is cultivated.  When Viognier is crafted into sweeter styles, the hallmark aromas are softened and infiltrated by honeyed notes.  On the palate the wines can range from light and spritzy to the oaked versions of rich and creamy flavor and texture, with a highly viscous mouth-feel.

Viognier is king of Condrieu, its stronghold; it has greatly influence winemaking in the Rhone Valley and is now being internationally cultivated.  It may still need an introduction to a majority of consumers; though, pleasure seekers are probably well aware of the grape’s hedonistic qualities.  Viognier has come back from the brink of extinction and today is considered to be one of the most distinctive, seductive and unforgettable varieties in the world.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Region Rhone : While the Northern Rhone produces only about 5% of all wine coming out of the Rhone Valley, the quality of these bottles is not to be underestimated. The terroir in this region is heavenly for growing Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne or Rousanne - the only permitted grapes in the AOC. Picture this - the Rhone flows through the valley like an azure thread piercing the landscape, a reflection of the dreamy skies hovering above the vineyards, ready to produce rainfall at a moment's notice. The rocky soil of the steep, almost surreal hillsides provides a bountiful feast for the grapevine roots. The flavors and texture of Northern Rhone wines tell you everything you need to know as soon as your lips touch the elixir, like a whisper in the vigorous valley winds

As per the Southern Rhone wine, it is like taking a plunge into a whirlpool of juicy flavor. Every sip explodes forward like a crashing tsunami, bathing your tastebuds in delicious aromas of prune, chocolate, grass, and black fruit. The wines are so compelling that it can be hard to drink them casually at a social event without getting lost in their intricate textures and emotional depths. Let's set sail together, and drink deep from these luxurious bottles with our friends and loved ones.
Subregion Northern Rhone
Appellation Condrieu


Producer Francois Villard : Not every domaine in France is centuries old, nor every vintner born in the vineyard. Sometimes the greatest stories of success in the world of wine are the ones built on dreams and determination. From Chef to master winemaker, Francois Villard lives the dream he once dared to imagine. He has become a major star in the region of Rhone, where he produces a myriad of red and white bottlings from Cote-Rotie to Saint Peray. Domaine Francois Villard has risen to stardom in its relatively short history, garnering major attention from critics and consumers, alike.

Villard’s passion for wine began while working in the world of culinary arts. This eventually led him to becoming a sommelier, but when his hunger could no longer be satiated, he looked to getting his hands dirty. When the opportunity to acquire 4 hectares of uncultivated land in the lieu-dit of Poncin (in the appellation of Condrieu), he did not hesitate. With the help of Yves Cuilleron, a like-minded vintner whose family had been cultivating the region since the 1920s, planted his first vines in 1989. The year 1991 marked his first vintage from his small plot in Poncin, producing an enticing, elegant wine that would become one of the most fancied labels in Condrieu. The domaine has since expanded to 42 hectares, spread over 6 appellations and produces 450,000 bottles annually.

Domaine Francois Villard wines come to life in the vineyard, where it is believed to be the most fragile and vital stage of his wines’ development. Villard’s deep respect for nature and terroir are evident in his many sustainable and organic viticultural practices (and is expecting to be certified by 2023 by ECOCERT). “It is by respecting the soil that we can let the terroir express itself,” insists Francois Villard. His philosophy today is to produce authentic and balanced wines. For Villard, it is imperative that his wines be as representative as possible of their terroir, by optimizing the minerality as well as possible, which for him is the greatest freshness that one can imagine in a wine.

Year-long dedication in the vineyard is vital to the success of the harvest, insists Villard. From terrace wall maintenance during winter months, to planting and soil work in the Spring, plant cover, leaf stripping and thinning in preparation for picking. When the harvest arrives it is manually accomplished, plot by plot so that each bunch is harvested with perfect maturity. Wines are then vinified with indigenous yeasts, that is to say, that they use the yeasts naturally present in the grapes and control sulfur additions from the reception of the grapes until their bottling.

The domaine’s portfolio includes their highly esteemed and beloved Condrieus, including Le Grand Vallon and De Poncins, Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, numerous bottlings of Saint Peray and Saint Joseph, a Marsanne-Roussanne blend and the energetic, single-varietal Viognier. The collection of reds is just as impressive, boasting numerous Saint Joseph, Cote-Rotie, Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage labels, as well as numerous other appellation and village wines. Francois Villard produces dry and sweet styles of Condrieu, and often adds a small percentage of Viognier to his Syrah. One of the domaine's top wines, La Brocarde, can contain up to 13 percent Viognier, depending on the vintage.

Francois Villard has become a major contributor to the quality of Condrieu, which is witnessed world-wide. His many bottlings from Cote-Rotie, Saint Peray and every appellation in which his vines are rooted have become well-regarded and his great respect for terroir, commended. Though his work is not yet complete, as he states that his new dream is to “…produce great old wines that we can drink immediately.” Certainly a dream that nearly every consumer, vintner and enthusiast on earth shares.

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