Yves Cuilleron is a study of contrasts. Quite a serious man, possessed of a sense of gravity, he is also quick to flash a broad smile of honest pleasure. Sturdy and compact, with sensibly close-cropped hair and dressed in straightforward farm clothes, he is nonetheless neat and elegant in posture and movement, and his eyes light up with instant passion when he begins to talk about his wines. And he’s quite comfortable being surrounded by adoring women peppering him with questions, it seems.
We joined Yves in Côte Table, at Le Cercle des Vignerons in Ampuis, and dawdled with him over a leisurely lunch in the land ofslow food, accompanied by three of his wines. Yves, somehow, ended up being flanked by those adoring women, which didn’t hurt his disposition at all. And he was justly proud to show off his splendid wines.
Côte Table sets a pretty good table---it’s a casual place that wine tourists should definitely schedule on their itinerary. (www.lecercledesvignerons.com)
Yves served three of his wines.
Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Cote 2005
Lightly floral, slight honeydew character, seems medium-bodied at first but has a pleasing touch of baby fat (in a 2005!). Yves informs us it’s direct press, with no maceration; as a consequence, it’s a direct and straightforward wine with mellow fruit, with a short, clean finish.
And it nicely suits the first course, an impressive triple layer of salad greens, topped by thin
slices of ham, then topped with a light pastry stuffed with hot, herbed goat cheese.
Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Vertige 2006
From a single south-facing vineyard on a steep slope---hence the reference to vertigo. Much more full bodied than the Petite Cote, showing some vanilla lacing around the flowers, white peaches, melons and honeysuckle. More structure, from the 18 months on the lees in barrique. Works beautifully with a river fish sautéed in a butter/herb sauce and tinged with lemon, with rice and grilled eggplant alongside. The wine is sturdy and steps up to the food quite nicely. For those few who still think Viognier is a pleasant, flowery and insubstantial little sipping wine for cocktails, think again: this Viognier has structure, a leesy richness and sufficient acidity to work well with food. Great combination!
Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Liquoreux Ayguets 2007Now this wine is just plain damned fun! Imagine a flower box, stuffed full of ripe peaches and apricots, and you’ll get close to the smell of this wine. But at first sip the suffused sweetness with a tangy bite of spice kicks in to induce some lip-licking and repeated sipping. Delectable wine, balanced, harmonious, never cloying or oversweet (alcohol and rs are about the same level); with the mildest possible nod to the more stately botrytised behemoths from elsewhere. Wouldn’t mind at all having a few (dozen) bottles of this little sweetie stashed away.
Stuffed to the gills, perfumed with wine, we wander out to the street and chit-chat with our new friend Yves, then dodge the traffic of Ampuis---which takes both agility and speed, not our forté at the moment---- and collapse into the van to continue our vinous journey of the amazing Rhone Valley wine region.
Next stop: Domaine Alain Voge in Cornas!