The Condrieu AOC is home to only one variety of grape, Viognier Doré. Here, just a few leagues downstream from Vienne, it has given birth to a wine that is found nowhere else!
Legend has it that Viognier originated in Dalmatia and was brought to France by the Roman emperor Probus. But recent research on the genome of the vine has shown it true origins is local. As his neighbor and cousin the Syrah, the Viognier comes from the wild vines of the northern Côtes du Rhône,
To safeguard Viognier's original typicity, the OAC's trade body created a conservation centre for old vine strains that best represent Viognier's riches, thus ensuring the enduring quality of Condrieu wines.


According to the latest scientific research, Viognier's origins are in the wild vines of the northern Côtes
du Rhône. For a long time Viognier was only known about due to the wine of Condrieu, made from
fairly small plantations. The great attack of phylloxera, and then the Great War, prompted growers to
abandon their vines, and Viognier barely survived, grown over just a few hectares (8ha in 1965).
As recently as 1986, only 20ha of Viognier was planted, all in Condrieu.
The appellation gradually recovered and the planted area developed to reach the current 140 ha.
During this period, Viognier began to travel beyond the boundaries of Condrieu - to southern France
and abroad. As of 2005, 3,255ha in France was planted with Viognier.

Regions of use

In France, Viognier is the only variety used to make Condrieu, a rare wine much sought by
enthusiasts, and its neighbour, Château-Grillet. It is also traditionally used in Côte Rôtie to
complement the dominant Syrah (up to 20% of estates are planted with it).
Since the 1990s, it has also been enjoyed in southern France, both to complement other varieties and
on its own in varietal wines.
Further afield, Viognier is grown in Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland and Austria.
But it has met with most success outside Europe. It is one of the main white-grape varieties in
America, and primarily in California. It is also very popular in Australia, where it accounts for 70%
of white-grape vine plantations.


It can identified by :
-the ends of the young branches, which have medium-dense flat hairs,
-its young green leaves with slightly bronze markings.
-its adult leaves, light or medium green in colour, disc-shaped, of small to medium size, with three
to five lobes; a petiolar sinus open to varying degrees; shallow lower side sinuses; medium-sized
teeth with rectilinear or convex sides, or with one convex side and one concave side; no anthocyanic
pigmentation of the veins; a bubble-likelamina, curly on the edges and inner surface; low to medium
density; and erect and flat hairs.
-its round grapes.


Bud burst period: like the Chasselas grape variety;
Ripening period : second period, two and a half weeks after Chasselas.

Crop and agronomic details

This variety is long-pruned though moderately so (it can sometimes be slightly sensitive to the wind),
with fairly high planting density. Traditionally cultivated in acidic soil, in southern regions it is well
suited to soils that are deep enough, though not too fertile, to cope with the potential drought in
southern-French areas. Bud burst occurs early, exposing it to spring frosts.

Vulnerability to disease and pests

Viognier has no particular vulnerability to disease. It is not over-sensitive too grey rot.



Technological potential

Viognier produces small bunches of small grapes. Because of its varietal characteristics,
in favourable conditions it allows the making of wines that are highly aromatic (with notes of apricot
and peach, among others), complex, powerful and of great quality. Viognier yields wines that are
hearty (thanks to their potential for high sugar content) and fleshy, but sometimes lack acidity and
occasionally are slightly bitter. The variety's grapes may also be used to make sweet and sparkling
wines, or be blended (in proportions of 5%-10%; and more in the old days) with other grapes, Syrah
mainly, to add finesse and aromatic character to red wines.
Clonal selection

Clonal selection

There was previously only one approved clone (clone no. 642), which has been used very widely in
recent years. An extensive selection programme has been launched to increase to create new
healthy strains. Selection possibilities are restricted by the poor health of the (small) population that
forms the traditional Viogner vineyards in the Condrieu area. However, the recently-approved clones
1042 and 1051 were selected for their growing characteristics and the quality of the wines they yield.


The Condrieu appellation, which was nearly abandoned and had dwindled to 10ha (25 acres) in the
1970s, has since been extensively replanted; the planted area now exceeds 120ha. Most of these new
vines were replanted using massal selections from surviving vines, as the only certified clone
available at the time was of lesser quality. This clone was thus not widely planted in the AOC area,
even though many old vines were virus-affected. The small number of available clones and the poor
health of the massal selections meant there was a risk of the genetic variety of Viognier becoming
extinct. With backing from France's national technical establishment for grape-growing improvement
(Entav) and the local Chambers of Agriculture, the AOC trade body decided to takeaction: in 2001,
aconservation centre was established to isolate the most interesting old strains. This facility, which
comprises only virus-free strains, will make it possible to select new clones and make new massal

Source : ENTAV-ITV France

Documents à télécharger

Le cépage Viognier (format PDF)