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The Wines

100% Viognier, 2 day decantation, vat, 228-litre cask fermented 2-3 weeks, aged 70% vat, 30% oak casks 20 months, malo completed, 15-17,000 b

2009 ()

Bordeaux adviser meets Viognier: not the answer. Pale yellow, green tints, a flint colour. The graceful nose reveals light flowers of spring, primrose with a lime, salted backdrop, a nice little cut. The bouquet is all very elegant. The palate bears a refined, well-textured debut – there is a very smooth, silken ride here. It gives a white fruits, velvet glove expression, but the second half drifts. It lacks the core content Viognier can give, so leaves a more fleeting impression than it should. There is a nutty little bundle on the finish. It has been made to please those who don’t really know the Rhône and its heritage, lacks that true depth. The flavour involves pear, vanilla, is subdued. The nose at least is beau. It is a metropolitan wine that is certainly not a contender for Vieille France cuisine, so seek out steamed fish, for example. This is expensive, too: £990 in bond 12 b at Bordeaux Index. 14°. 2025-27  Nov 2013

2006

steady yellow robe; buttery appeal across the nose, which has definition and weight even if it is a bit dumb. Buttercup, floral airs circulate, then it starts to widen and intensify, takes on hazelnut and mineral – it changes a lot with air. Pear of pear flambé debut to the palate, a shade of burn about it, has evident alcohol and charges up towards the finish. So its sequence is to set off on power, moderate for a while and end on a beefy spur. Decant this if drinking now; the texture reflects the fat of the Viognier, plus an oaking element. Big wine, food required, a considered occasion also. It gains some finesse as it airs, grips tight at the end. Rich and southern. 14°. £59, save up for this if you really, really want to try it. 2023-25 April 2010

2005

pale, bright yellow. Opened 45 mins before tried: the nose spreads across the glass well, is delicate but there is assured depth. It expresses early summer flowers with hazelnut, spice, freshness. Airs of damp wool, butter, acetate here, and after being open 90 minutes more obvious Viognier, pear aromas come through. The palate is elegant, holds very well founded content, has a good, fresh sheen and direct appeal. This drinks like a sophisticated aperitif, which is unusual for Grillet. A polished performer, it is very good with a risotto of mushroom, celery, garlic, onion, sherry and olive oil – the food lengthens the wine. Shows a serene expansion with air. Day 2: floral, Riesling style aroma. butter, flan flavour moves to the fore, light pear flavouring. It is less oily and obviously rich than in the past. 2019-21 Feb 2010 £55 in GB.

2004

pale, flinty yellow. There is a fresh note to the bouquet, with a currently rather hidden ripe underlay. Has a marked salty tang at the top, with classic maturing Viognier suggestions of damp wool. As the early tang is absorbed and it softens, some roasted nut aromas come forward. The palate is more obviously Viognier, its flavour led by pear, with some nuttiness and richness. The richness is a little narrow, but there is an intensity in the wine that implies obvious cellar work and lees stirring. There is also some butterscotch in the flavour, a caramel note turning up late on. Its general tenor now is that of a fresh wine. It is agreeable, and goes well with smoked salmon pasta. The length is good, quite fresh, near biting in nature. I feel this could hold more ingrained depth. It will be better if left to integrate its acidity, so try from late 2009. On Day 2, it is even more brisk on the nose, while the palate is nutty, taut and tight. Is this meant to be drunk as an aperitif? Just a passing question. Decant this, as usual. 14°. 2020-22 June 2008

2003

welcoming, broad bouquet, more open and up-front than usual: toast, uncooked mushrooms, lime/greengage - is varied. Melted butter comes with air. Full start, has a nutty-buttery flavour with plenty of stylish gras. Grip is fair, length helped by a mix of the vintage power and ripeness, and by a little oaking. Not the usual Grillet at all - the tiny, tiny crop, the 14° or more alcohol, the oaking. Bouquet more gentle than palate, which broadens more than usual towards finish. Showing well early, less reserved than the habit. Some caramel, burn on the finish, with a coconut, rather spirity effect after one hour open. Day two - more overt oak. Vintage handled quite well. 2013-15. A tiny crop this year – 3,000 b May 2006

2002

fresh, nut/pear aroma, quite full, light oak. Oily texture on start, three-quarter weight, stylish and then kicks on, fills out. Heated, touch oak on finish. Skips a little in middle. (78 hl)

2001

gently ripe, light apricot, dried fruit bouquet, with a mineral touch. Nice warmth of texture, quite ripe matter, so some flesh. Refined, light pear length, some gras all way through. Structure OK. 2013-17 (110 hl)

2000

subdued pear, dessert tart aroma, some potential. Pebbly white stone fruit, restrained, understated richness. Smoky, quite decisive finale. Gradual expansion with air, the customary elegance here. Plenty to come, very young at four years. 2008 on. 2019-23 (124 hl)

1999

usual pale, flinty colour; gentle honey/floral, also rotted, damp wool/damp hay bouquet. White stone fruits come through. Slightly singed on attack, though has a subtle warm thread. Bit more width after 50 mins, pineapple/dried apricot, too. Fungal tones, and more flesh on second day. Acidity on finish - is crop being picked quite early still? Definitely benefits from decanting. 2008-10 (147 hl)

1998

light pear aroma, apple tart – the bouquet is a little baked, the fruit ripe in style. After 20 minutes of breathing, the palate is still reserved. The overall effect is a calm, unshowy wine, with a cooked pear flavour. It has sound grip late on. Very much one to decant, and allow time. From 2008 spring. Can live rather well. 2019-22  Dec 2006 Previously March 2003 **** sub-yellow; refined, slightly tannic pear skin bouquet - elegant, dry-toned. Warms and expands gently after 90 mins. Coconut flavour on attack, tight-knit and refined on palate. Its elegance brings back memories of the better years of yore. Just enough flesh, and a firm, clean light honey finish. Pear/quince, spiced plum on palate. Very young at five years. 2012-15 (93 hl)

1997 ()

pale yellow; simple soft butter/floral bouquet, hint of aniseed. Not especially deep, though gains some earthiness. Acid attack - bang! Green aspects, underripe fruit. Some ripe fruit like peach with food, but still has sharp side. Not tight-knit, the bitter side is putting-off. (131 hl)

1996 No Rating

Poor. On several tastings in different places, the wine has been discordant on the palate. The scent is largely floral, gentle and quietly sweet. But there is a sharp attack with a bitter, rather burnt edge and even after being left for an hour, nothing had changed. The penultimate bottle was bought “on offer” at the Swedish Monopoly in Stockholm and still cost £21 (US$32) in January 2001. (124 hl)

1995

mid-weight, smooth aroma - bonbons, dried fruits, varnish. At eight years, very much middle-aged; also light caramel, butterscotch, pear - bouquet can develop. Damp wool, custard start, some burnt fruits, too. Quite heated at end, though air softens it. Elegant, restrained - shows the vintage with some mineral edging on finish. 2010-13 (71 hl)

1993

Rain just before the harvest, but the Viognier had largely ripened by then. Well-regarded by the owners. Damp wool, spice/cooked bouquet with coconut – this is nicely broad. Pretty attack – springs out, full and vigorous. Fair length, burnt touch on end. Lime/quince aftertaste. Typical, good sinew, elegance. Clean, mineral finish. Pear flavour after 90 mins. (88 hl)

1992 ()

gentle aromas, appealing; fair weight, opens and gains with air. Honeysuckle, refined flavour. Delicate, a touch of sweetness. Not very long. (136 hl)

1991

elegant, melted butter/flan bouquet with typical old Viognier damp wool, also very ripe figs. Good richness, with its usual restraint. Cooked fruits for tarts, light brown sugar at end. Some local heat, and ends drily, saltily. Going well at twelve years old. 2014-17 (111 hl) Tasted April 2003

1972 CUVÉE RENAISSANCE ()

opaque, fine yellow robe. The nose is closed, but still has inner richness, pear, classic aged signs of damp wool, very typical, with orange peel. The palate lives on sinew, with fine grain texture, good late grip. The fruit centres on apricot and white strawberry. There are saline touches which I have found with Grillet over the years, 1991 for example. It is fine on the finish, represents a low-key accumulation of detail. This is “think texture, not flavour” wine. 2,067 bottles made. Can live towards 2028, I would say. Nov 2016

1969

the year was excellent, with remarkable fruitiness and sound body, great length and elegance – Grillet at its best. The Renaissance held supreme balance, which helped it to conserve well. 46% of the tiny crop went into making the Cuvée Renaissance – 1,730 bottles.