This iconic 3 ½ – hectare northern Cotes-du-Rhone property is the only A.O.C property in France.
Chateau Grillet’s worldwide fame is the result of its quality (albeit in the recent past, quality has been inconsistent – some vintages were dilute, or off-dry, or under-ripe or oxidized) and rarity. The quantity is restricted by the size of the property and yield, rarely exceeding 10,000 bottles.
It was recently purchased by Francois Pinault (2011), and is now under the supervision of Frederic Engerer, the director of Pinault’s first growth Bordeaux, Cateau Latour.
The soil of Chateau Grillet consists of decomposed granite, and the terraced vineyards are expensive to cultivate. The only variety planed is viognier.
Now under Engerer’s management Chateau Grillet’s vineyards and vines are being reinvigorated, new equipment installed, and blocks of vineyards are individually harvested, and vinified for the final assembly. Although the quantity is limited by the size of the vineyards and A.O.C regulations the new management is planning to increase production.
When I visited the property some years ago, I was disappointed by the sorry-looking barrel rooms and dilapidated equipment, but the glass of wine proffered was delightful. Contrary to French custom of offering a glass of wine to a visitor, I had to pay for it.
Yet I was impressed enough to buy a bottle at a relatively high price.
A few days later in Italy during a visit to a friend and an informal gathering, I made the mistake of opening the bottle, and it disappeared within a few minutes. Italians know how to appreciate a fine glass of wine, even if it is French.