The estate accesses impressive holdings in Condrieu and Cote-Rotie, with the majority of the vines under estate ownership, though a small component of rented vineyards is also included. Of the 3.5 hectare of AOC Condrieu under their watch, 3 hectare are estate-owned, while 2.2 hectare of the 3.2 hectare of Cote-Rotie vineyards belong to the family. A tiny parcel of Saint Joseph rounds out the holdings. The steep, craggy slopes of the vineyards demand that all work be done manually, and Xavier continues the traditional practices in the cellar, with spontaneous fermentation and classic Northern Rhone elevage, mostly in older barrels of demi-muid size. The estate produces five wines.
|Viognier Le Replat Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes: A tiny production of just 3500 bottles, this is a balanced Viognier that leans towards fresh fruit and acid, rather than any tropical notes. The grapes are sourced from a partially-terraced 1.05ha parcel in Verin, located 2km from Condrieu. The Malolactic fermentation is blocked, keeping a high level of acidity in this sharp expression of granite-infused soil. The dominant notes are white flowers, violets, with persistent minerality through the finish.|
|Condrieu Marmouzin: A tiny 0.32 hectare parcel high on the hill in Condrieu yields the fruit for this wine, which is among the most classic examples of Condrieu we’ve tasted. The vines are 35 years old, and neutral oak elevage allows the purity of the appellation to shine through. A mix of restrained fruit and subtle minerality make this a Condrieu that harkens back to versions we encountered at the outset of our career some thirty plus years ago when the beauty of the Viognier lay in its ethereal, ballet-like presence on the palate rather than in the power of its ripe (over-ripe?) fruit.|
|Condrieu “L’Arbuel”: Beginning with the 2015 vintage, the Condrieu “Marmouzin” will be blended with a new parcel of in the lieu-dit “Corbery”, a .18-hectare parcel located slightly higher than Marmouzin. Both parcels are too small to bottle individually (Marmouzin is only .32-hectare). Both vineyards sit high on the slope overlooking the majestic Rhone and display a more mineral and cool character compared with the richer “La Côte Chatillon”|
|Condrieu La Cote Chatillon: From the estate’s finest holding, situated in the middle of the slope overlooking the Rhone, this cuvee from the famed “Cote Chatillon” lieu-dit has long been the flagship Condrieu of Domaine Gerard. After fermentation in cuve, the wine spends one year in a mix of 500L and 225L barrels, the vast majority of which are old. The richness of the fruit is placed in balance by bright acidity, in a masterfully-controlled wine. A liveliness and notes of spice carry through the pleasing finish. We have also been fortunate to taste some older examples of this wine, which showed an excellent capacity for cellaring.|
|Saint Joseph Rouge Le Blanchard: From a site down the road in Chavanay just south of Condrieu, a mere 2000 bottles of this wine are produced annually, of which we will receive a small allotment of a few hundred bottles per year. A less feral-style red than the typical Saint Joseph, this wine shows fine minerality and a refreshing fragrance, both floral and berry-like, with a compelling finesse.|
|Cote-Rotie: An assemblage of the estate’s finest parcels, the single Cote-Rotie cuvée produced at the Gerard domaine is sourced principally from the Mollard lieu-dit (65%) with the balance a mix of Font-Jean, Viallière, and La Landonne. The de-stemming regimen varies with vintage, though a significant part is generally left as whole clusters. This is a finer expression of the appellation than many of its counterparts along the slope, with a purity of fruit and finesse to the tannins. Although its profile is marked by a regal elegance that makes this wine seductively drinkable in its youth, older examples offer strong testimony that the Cote-Rotie from Domaine Gerard has the capacity to provide a pure and tenacious expression of this noble terroir for decades in the bottle.|
|Cote Rotie “Landonne “: Xavier owns a tiny plot in the legendary parcel “Landonne”, which rests in the heart of the Cote Rotie appellation. Historically, his fruit was blended into his classic Cote Rotie until 2013, when he decided to bottle this small quantity separately. He is happy with the result and plans to continue to make this wine in stronger vintages (2015 will be the next release). The grapes are fermented in small barrels without destemming and left to age for 2 years before bottling. More concentrated and structured than his regular Cote Rotie, this wine will clearly benefit from more time in the cellar to soften its tannic edges. In years that merit production, only about 400 bottles are made.|
An Evening with Xavier Gérard It was a real treat to have our friend Xavier Gérard in NYC for a few days this past week. The overarching reason for Xavier’s trip was a dinner in his honor, hosted by the Commanderie des Costes du Rhône, a fraternity of over 4,000 enthusiasts with chapters worldwide dedicated
2018 Xavier Gérard Saint-Joseph Le Blanchard Deep, youthful violet. Pungent, expansive aromas of ripe black and blue fruits take on spice and floral accents with air. Broad and fleshy yet lively as well, offering bitter cherry, cassis, cracked pepper and violet pastille flavors and a touch of smokiness. Finishes very long and spicy, with repeating
Michael Kane and I just wrapped up 9 days on the road visiting our growers in the northern and southern Rhône, Provence, Languedoc – Roussillon and Bordeaux. We were the beneficiaries of beautiful Indian summer weather during the entirety of our trip, one of the few blessings from global warming.
Etienne Becheras * Domaine Lionnet * Bernard Levet Guillaume Gilles * Xavier Gerard By: Neal Rosenthal & Neil Rosen We will soon receive our most significant shipments of the year from our producers in the Northern Rhône. Recently, we have made substantial additions to our Northern Rhône portfolio; thus, this annual offer has grown to