David Chandler: "This time, Jason's and David's oenological explorations centre upon one small and very special area of France; the 209 hectares around Condrieu, that are home to the legendarily tricky to grow and hard to vinify, Viognier vine. The effort, though, produces a uniquely aromatic wine that has become one of the great gastronomic wines of France. What else, you might ask, pairs so well with that classic Lyonnaise dish, quenelles de brochet? David is obliged to forgo the pike dumplings, however, (which, if they had a pike, they could easily have made, if they only had a perch to go with it), because the only thing in Jason's fridge is Viognier; chilled to just the right temperature to release the honeysuckle, white stone fruit and apricot flavours of this awe-inspiring, yet under-appreciated grape. They begin with Patrick Jasmin's, limpid, straw-coloured Collines Rhodaniennes and slip smoothly on to Christine Vernay's sensuous Pied de Samson, before sampling, a true Condrieu from within the appellation itself and Vernay's principle cuvée; Les Terrasses de l'Empire; an intricate, classic Condrieu with a complexity and long finish that belies its single varietal origins. By now, our almost supine samplers are ready for the jewel in the Vernay crown, from the appellation's sweetspot, right in the centre of the town; a Coteau de Vernon, which so dumbfounds David that he can only declare it to be, 'just like Condrieu only more so.' 'On steroids,' adds Jason. Finally, a lightly-chilled Brézème, 'Azalée,' from Domaine Lombard provides a fruit-filled footnote on how Viognier, so fickle with its favours, can very obligingly add a supple freshness to red wine."
The series of 'Adventures in Wine' podcasts featuring Jason Yapp and David Chandler can be downloaded from the iTunes store here.