The jewels of the Northern Rhône: exploring top Côte Rôtie and Condrieu

I fell in love with the wines of the northern Rhône early on in my wine journey. And the gems of this region are arguably Côte Rôtie (for reds) and Condrieu (for whites). This was a chance to taste some really good examples of both, and my notes follow. A note on vintages: 2021 was quite a distinctive year in the region: it was hit with hail and frost, and was unusually cool and rainy. The result is wines that are very fresh, and quite different from the hot 2019 and the more typical 2020.


  • 7 communes: Condrieu, St Michel sur Rhône, Vérin, Chavanay, Saint Pierre de Boeuf, Malleval and Limony
  • 206 hectares of vines, 100% white wines, 100% Viognier
  • Viognier almost became extinct in the 1960s and was down to just over 10 hectares, but the appellation began a revival in the 1980s

Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Côte 2021 Northern Rhône, France
Lively and complex with pear, apricot of peach fruit as well as some spice. Great concentration here with a twist of mint and some saline hints. 94/100

Guigal Condrieu 2021 Northern Rhône, France
Lively with nice texture and some apricot and pear fruit, showing good purity and freshness. Quite typical. 93/100

PJ Villa Jardin Suspendu Condrieu 2021 Northern Rhône, France
Lively and fresh with vivid pear and peach fruit, as well as notes of apricot and spice. This has a saline twist on the finish. Lovely stuff. 94/100

Andre Perret Condrieu Chery 2021 Northern Rhône, France
Lively with bright mandarin and lime notes with a juicy, crystalline quality to the fruit. Very fresh and vivid. 93/100

Julien Pilon Iône Condrieu 2021 Northern Rhône, France
Fresh, supple and vivid with finely spiced apricot and peach notes, as well as some citrus. Bright with lovely precision. 93/100

Stephane Ogier La Combe de Malleval Condrieu 2021 Northern Rhône, France
Focused and lively with pure apricot and pear fruit, as well as some crisp green apple. Lovely brightness here with a subtle saline quality on the finish. 94/100

Niero Les Ravines Condrieu 2021 Northern Rhône, France
Textural and refined with lovely purity. Notes of pear, melon and apricot with great precision, and a saline mineral twist. 95/100

Jamet Vermillon Condrieu 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Powerful and fine with some mineral notes as well as lovely pear, spice and apricot, and even a touch of honey. Has fine spiciness with great precision. Mineral and taut with real interest. 95/100

Francois Villard Condrieu De Poncins 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Fresh, bright and powerful with spice, a hint of cherry and some apricot notes, as well as sweet pear and a twist of liquorice. Very stylish. 94/100

Christine Vernay Les Terrasses de L’Empire Condrieu 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Textural and spicy with lively apricot and spice, as well as some pear and peach richness. Lovely depth here with a mineral edge. Expressive fruit. 95/100


  • 73 lieu dits, on steep slopes
  • There were only 60 hectares left planted by the 1950s, but the appellation has undergone revival
  • Metamorphic soils: mica schist to the north, gneiss to the south and migmatite in the extreme south east
  • 327 hectares planted, all red wines, but Viognier is allowed in the blends (co-fermented)

Jamet Fructus Volupras Côte Rôtie 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Pepper and spice with a mineral quality, as well as meaty depth to the sweet fruit core. Juicy and linear with fine black cherry and blackberry. So expressive. 95/100

Stephane Montez Fortis Côte Rôtie 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Textural and lush with some oak in the mix, this is polished, showing sweet black fruits and a hint of ash. Lovely depth here with minerality and some spice, as well as a hint of roast coffee. Very fine. 94/100

Gerin Champin Le Seigneur Côte Rôtie 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Mineral, dense and reductive with some meat and spice. Saline and intense with a wild side and some phenolic notes. 93/100

Xavier Gérard Côte Rôtie 2020 Northern Rhône, France
This is from four plots and is 50% whole bunch. Powerful, spicy, peppery and vivid with intense savoury, mineral character. Lovely intensity here with good focus to the raspberry and cherry fruit. 95/100

Patrick Jasmin Côte Rôtie La Giroflarie 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Vivid and lively with green herbs, some dried herbs, pepper, raspberry and black cherry. Very mineral and fine with great intensity. 95/100

Bonserine La Sarrasine Côte Rôtie 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Mineral and fine, with nice precision and notes of olive and pepper. Juicy cherry and raspberry fruit, showing nice detail. 94/100

Domaine Duclaux Côte Rôtie Germine 2020 Northern Rhône, France
Powerful, vivid and peppery with notes of raspberry and cherry, and an appealing grainy structure. Very fine and expressive, showing notes of iodine and minerals. Stylish and expressive. 96/100