DOMAINE DE CHÂTEAU GRILLET

DOMAINE DE CHÂTEAU GRILLET

RHONE VALLEY
Owner:
François Pinault
Manager:
Frédéric Engerer
Website
Château-Grillet was one of the first French appellations and also one of the smallest. Even rarer, Château-Grillet is also a monopoly, an appellation with only one producer. This was recognition of the excellence of the terroir and of the wines it produces.
DOMAINE DE CHÂTEAU GRILLET

The vineyards of Condrieu and Château-Grillet were planted by the emperor Probus in the 3rd century AD, from plants brought from Dalmatia. Numerous mosaics preserved at the archaeological site in Saint-Roman-en-Gal (around 12km away) confirm its origins and one of them shows a harvest scene including grape crushing. The early development of the vineyards in this region is probably linked to the Pax Romana. In the 17th century, the wines of Château-Grillet were already present in the greatest cellars. Evidence of their fame comes from Thomas Jefferson’s visit to the property in 1787 and an 1814 inventory of the cellar of Château de Malmaison, residence of Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, first wife of Napoleon I: among other great wines this mentions “296 bottles of Château-Grillet, valued at 592 Francs”. For many years Château-Grillet belonged to middle-class families from Lyon. The property remained with the Neyret-Gachet family from 1827 to 2011, passing from one generation to the next. During this rich period, one key date was to leave an indelible mark: on 11 December 1936, the Official Journal of the French Republic announced that owner Henri Gachet had succeeded in obtaining appellation contrôlée status for the property.
The property was acquired in June 2011 by François Pinault, also owner of Château Latour in Pauillac and Domaine d’Eugénie in Vosne-Romanée.

Château-Grillet is located between the villages of Vérin and Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône (Loire department), on the right bank of the Rhône to the south of the town of Vienne. The vineyard of Château-Grillet is in the form of a southern-facing amphitheatre, enjoying an exceptionally hot and sunny microclimate, protected from the winds from the north. The name “Grillet” may refer to hillsides “grilled” or burnt by the sun. The vines have an average age of 45 years and are planted on sometimes breathtakingly steep slopes. They are at 150-250 metres above sea level and spread over 76 marvellous terraces, called “chaillées”, held up by dry stone walls which have been meticulously maintained and preserved over the centuries. Ever since the Roman times, the hand of man has been required continuously to maintain these terraces, giving a sense of purpose and identity to this magical place with its mind-blowing beauty.
The Viognier grape reigns supreme here, giving birth to wines of great tightness, intensity and minerality.
After the harvest, each selection of vineyard parcels is pressed separately. Pressing is gentle and respects the grapes. This is a crucial step which requires continued oversight and a lot of precision. A new tank room was installed before the 2012 vintage, with small stainless-steel, temperature-controlled tanks. This has given the team the chance to be able to vinify each different selection separately and with precision. The alcoholic and malolactic fermentations take place in tank or in barrel, according to the lot. Ageing for 18 months takes place in French oak barrels, with a low proportion of new oak, around 20%.

Château-Grillet is a wine for the initiated, which does not give up its secrets easily; it has great elegance, tightness and a magnificent aromatic complexity. It is a wine for laying down, and requires patience until it reveals all its magic. Its minerality is often accompanied by a freshness reminiscent of a sea breeze, sometimes even with hints of mint. The aromatic spectrum is wide and varied. Floral elegance (rose, violet, lime-blossom) and soft fruitiness (pear, pineapple, apricot) can also accompany warmer, more indulgent notes such as honey, nougat, hazelnut, vanilla, white truffle, or spices like saffron.

Maurice Edmond Sailland (1872-1956), the famous gastronomic critic better known by his pen-name Curnonsky, included Château-Grillet at the heart of his famous “five great white wines of France” alongside other prestigious growths: Montrachet, Coulée de Serrant, Château Yquem and Château Chalon. Curnonsky, nicknamed the Prince of Gastronomy, spoke freely of Château-Grillet as a “très grand seigneur” (a great lord).