Throwback to Condrieu’s Past

When old-school legends like Condrieu’s Georges Vernay and Côte Rôtie’s Marius Gentaz got their starts 60 to 70 years ago, they were motivated by a strong sense of purpose—and the knowledge that their work was important. There was, after all, little financial reward for the back-breaking labor of growing grapes on the region’s steep terraces.

It’s a bit easier today, with a far greater return for the effort, thanks to a more widespread appreciation of the northern Rhône’s magic. Yet, today one very independent vigneron continues in the spirit of those pioneers, simply because he loves what he does: Pierre Bénetière.

Completely self-made and seemingly uninterested in money, Bénetière makes his wines reclusively. Nearly impossible to visit, Pierre is so consumed by his work that he doesn’t even have a phone; as he told Rhône guru John Livingstone-Learmonth, “Our telephone number is on the label, but I cut the telephone off.  Not worth it.”

But Bénetière’s extreme focus results not only in some of Côte Rôtie’s most compelling wines, but also some of the most amazing, painfully rare, and terroir-transperent Condrieus made.

A case in point are his 2009 and 2010, which amply demonstrate Pierre's uniqueness. While expressing the appellation’s perfumed opulence, his wine, even after nearly a decade in his cave, bares a freshness and finesse you won’t find in the youngest of Condrieus from other producers.

And with only 200 cases made, it’s a real privilege to be able to offer them.

Labor of Love
We introduced Bénetière to our customers last year with an offer of his beautiful Côte Rôtie Cordeloux. But while that wine is made very much in the traditional mold, Pierre follows his own path in fashioning his Condrieu, marrying what he learned from the old-school masters with his own ideas, for a more restrained style meant for bottle age.

A native of Condrieu, Bénetière fell under the spell of Vernay’s classic wines early on, and subsequently worked for and studied under him. He then set about the superhuman work of creating his own domaine from scratch—clearing land, building terraces and planting—in the impossibly steep Condrieu lieux-dits of Le Tinal and Le Riollement.

Seeking as pure an expression as possible from these precious plots, Pierre has always worked them organically, and he harvests early for the bracing acidity that gives his Condrieus their exquisite balance and capacity for aging.

Uniquely Ageworthy and Terroir Driven
Fermentation with the native yeasts is in mostly neutral demi-muids, and aging takes place in the same barrels for 12 to 15 months, with lees-stirring for the first three months. The wines complete malolactic fermentation and are bottled without fining or filtration.

These are Condrieus unlike any other.  It's not only their vibrancy and potential for aging that is rare for the appellation, each bottling is a true lens to the decomposed granite soil in which his vines grow.

And Bénetière’s style—honed over 25 vintages—is perfectly showcased by the 2009 and 2010 vintages.  In 2009, a year known for power above all else, Pierre's Condrieu shows finesse and in the words of John Livingstone-Learmonth “Soil-to-glass-transmisison (STGT).”  A year later, he made full use of the 2010 vintage's gifts to fashion a wine of near-perfect balance of ripeness and structure.

With strong demand on both sides of the Atlantic, the chances of finding a bottle of Bénetière Condrieu on the market are slim. You’ll want to move quickly!
Includes the following wines:

2009 Bénetière Condrieu
John Livingstone-Learmonth  “**** rating ... Pretty nose – graceful, rounded fruit, pear. The palate is extending well, has heart ... runs on mineral finesse more than overt fruit  ... This has lot going for it ... STGT wine, with great appeal, but a line of finesse also. ”

2010 Bénetière Condrieu
Too rare to have been rated by any critic

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