If you are a wine lover in search of a startling discovery and great pleasure, take a few sips of the white wines of the Domaine le Serre de Condorcet (DSC) — rich, fragrant and complex vintages of golden hues that summon up comparisons to the white wines of the Northern Rhone appellations. At DSC, a vineyard of 19 acres in the Drome Provencale, Niels La Cour produces a greater number of varietal white wines than any vineyard in the Northern or the Southern Rhone: Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Chardonnay.
The white wines of Domaine le Serre de Condorcet spend two years in the tanks before bottling. These wines exhibit exceptional balance and proportion, and can be kept in the cellar for up to ten years.
Consider this: The farther south you travel in the Rhone Valley, the hotter the weather, the lower the acidity in white wines. White wines that lack acidity run the risk of being flabby and flat in the bottle. Most of the whites in the Southern Rhones are blends of various wines varieties, notably Roussanne, one of the few varieties grown in the region that has a naturally bracing acidity to offset the low acidity of other varieties.
An exercise in geography: Google “Condorcet France” and inspect the satellite image of the village with respect to the Southern Rhone Valley and the difference in coloration attributed to climate and altitude – the denser green of Condorcet contrasts with the brownish green patches of the Rhone Valley.
Now consider this: Terroir manifests itself when within a constellation the stars — grape variety, soil, altitude, precipitation and micro-climate — are in perfect alignment to yield a wine of distinctive characteristics.
Niels la Cour cultivates a terroir of chalky clay in the foothills of the southern Alps where the soil favors Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne. At an altitude of 1400 feet, there is a large variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures, and the average temperatures are cooler than in the southern Rhone, thus imparting the white wines of DSC with higher levels of acidity. A few tasting notes on the vintages which evolve in the glass:
Viognier: This variety is growing in popularity in the southern Rhone despite its low acid and that it must be harvested at the right moment otherwise it produces wine that is flat and tasteless. The Viognier of DSC, grown in cooler temperatures, has a deep golden color with aromas of fresh butter and lavender. A complex and rich with a fresh palate with dashes of apricots and tropical fruits, and an aftertaste of hints of lavender, compare this Viognier to the more pricey wines of Condrieu. Serve with amuse-bouches for aperitif, melon with ham, and foie gras.
Marsanne: A full-bodied round white wine with yellowish hues, notes of grilled bread, minerals and honey; a balanced palette of apples and pineapples. This Marsanne is more airy than the earthy Marsanne of Crozes Hermitage. Serve with terrine of foie gras, grilled prawns, and chicken.
Roussanne: A rare varietal with a nose of wild flowers with smoky and mineral hints. On the palate, the wine is rich and well-structured: quince, licorice and flinty tones, and mineraliness. Serve with shellfish, or with game or white meat accompanied by mushrooms.
Chardonnay: Brace yourself for this full-bodied chardonnay, which is like a blank canvas in that its flavors vary as to terroir, that is not your crisp flinty Chablis nor your buttery Meursault. Golden in color, notes of litchis, grapefruit and lime flowers, a refreshing and smooth palette of honey tones. Serve with Coquille Saint Jacques, fresh river fish, and chicken with mushrooms.
Background: A chemical engineer, Niels studied in oenology at Montpellier
Backstory: When Niels was a kid his family visited southern France from their home in Denmark. At first site of a farm and vineyard in Condorcet, his father purchased the property. In the late 1980’s, Niels purchased an adjoining farm where he planted vines in 1992.
The wines of the Domaine le Serre de Condorcet have been favored by the Hotel Restaurant Pic in Valence and by Paul Bocuse. The primary export market has been Germany.
Classification: Vin de Pays Des Coteaux Des Baronnies (Table Wine). “Les Baronnies” is a region of low mountains in the southern part of the Drome.
Email Contact: Niels La Cour, email@example.com