Domaine Georges Vernay
2017 'Les Chaillées de l'Enfer' Condrieu AOC
Viognier •Les Chaillées de l'Enfer
France: Rhône Valley
We can clearly see you face as if your screen was a mirror; “96-points, schminetysix points, an obscure buck and a half apiece worth of a French white” you say? But it’s not, we assure you. Losing our little minds putting this piece together as a white just can’t be this good. Read on…
Having an ABC day? Anything But Chardonnay? Yet you’re still in the mood for something white and fancy because life is too short? THIS. Say not just Viognier (vee-o-knee-yay) but a Condrieu (cohn-dree-uh) is what you need. We debated if the few bottles there are will be enough for all to share. Probably not. Yet this rare pearl was hard to pass, as for every thousand bottles produced in the Rhône, MAYBE one is from Condrieu. As Wine Spectator wrote, Vernay “is the reference point for the Condrieu appellation.”
A breathtaking pale gold, equally bright and brilliant in the core as it sits through the glass until the very edge. The bouquet would make any potpourri blush for lacking the floral diversity here, plus minerals, plus citrus and stone fruit. How can a rich white offer such tannic extraction, while retaining zippy electric freshness? Absurdly balanced in the mouth with compelling texture. Citrus pith, nectarine, pear, cardamom, and cream merge on the impeccable finale towards an eternal, deafeningly quiet symphony. This is poetry worthy, so put forth a lobster feat, duck confit, or take it to an omakase, it’s worth the corkage!
You may have picked up on the forlorn Francophile side of Agent Noir’s palate by now. Not only does this speak LOUDLY to him, but it also has universal appeal as a Vernay expression of one of Condrieu’s top sites is a whole-body experience. Need a second opinion? Or more? By far, for all wine reviewers across the board, Vernay’s Condrieu are consistently among the highest-rated, all the way to 100-points! Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate says; “Vernay’s fame primarily comes from the family’s long time position as one of the leaders and reference points of the Condrieu appellation.” Foremost Rhône Valley expert Jeb Dunnuck adds; “the benchmark estate in Condrieu is unquestionably that of Christine Vernay. Taking over the estate from her father in 1997, she consistently produces one of the finest lineups of Condrieu in every vintage. She is at the top of her game and readers looking for the best Condrieu has to offer need look no further. While I generally feel Condrieu show best in their first 3-5 years of life, Vernay’s stunning efforts certainly make me open up my drink windows on these wines. This is an estate that, without a doubt, merits your attention and hard-earned money.”
Let’s be honest now if ALL experts agree unanimously that these wines are worth the $150-200 they get snapped up for, then they are. Yet for the first time in history, The Wine Spies includes shipping on just 3 or more and throws in a 54% OFF on a wine that just does not need it to sell out? It’s a great day to be an Operative, be proud, open your mind, and make room in your stash.
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
96 Points – Jeb Dunnuck - “Both 2017 and 2018 were scorchers for the Northern Rhône, which can be difficult for Condrieu, yet Christine Vernay has done a brilliant job in both vintages. These wines show plenty of richness and depth yet hold onto a terrific sense of purity and freshness. The 2017 Condrieu Chaillees De L’Enfer comes from a hillside just next to Coteau de Vernon and was first made in 1992. It’s brought up exactly like the Coteau de Vernon, so the difference (and there are always differences between the two wines) are all due to terroir. Stunning notes of ripe citrus, orange pith, spice, and floral notes all emerge from the glass, and this medium to full-bodied Condrieu has good acidity, a vibrant, elegant texture, and a great finish. It’s not a blockbuster, but this estate made sure to hold onto a sense of freshness and purity in both their 2017s and 2018s. Drink 2020-2030.”
95 Points – Wine Spectator - “Richly layered, with vivid fennel, white peach, apricot and Jonagold apple flavors stitched seamlessly together, ending with sparkles of jasmine and acacia on the finish. 60 cases imported. Drink now through 2022.”
A breathtaking pale gold, equally bright and brilliant in the core as it sits through the glass until the very edge.
Would make any potpourri blush for lacking the floral diversity here, plus minerals, plus citrus and stone fruit.
How can a rich white offer such tannic extraction, while retaining zippy electric freshness? Absurdly balanced.
Citrus pith, nectarine, pear, cardamom, and cream all merge towards an eternal, deafeningly quiet symphony.
This is poetry worthy, so put forth a lobster feat, duck confit, or take it to an omakase, it’s worth the corkage!
What the Winery Says
- Christine Vernay
- 100% Viognier
- Condrieu, Northern Rhône
- Les Chaillées de l’Enfer
- Vine age
- Planted in 1957
- Granite and clay
- 15 months
- 25% new French oak
- 2 barrels