A Villa Built from Scratch

Pierre-Jean Villa's growing Rhône domaine has an exciting range of 2013s from Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and more
Nov 14, 2014

Pierre-Jean Villa is still plenty busy these, working on a Burgundy project with Bordeaux-based owner Olivier Decelle in addition to his own Rhône domaine. For background, reference my November 2013 blog post.

Unlike some new domaines, there are old vines in the mix here, not just new plantings. Villa also does not purchase any fruit. Since 2009 production has grown from 1,250 to 3,750 cases, with 32 acres of vines (20 currently in production; the rest coming on line).

"In 2013, summer was not bad, but not good either. We had to wait, wait, wait," said Villa. "I picked only one parcel in September, but most was in October and I didn't finish until Oct. 20. In the end, really the only problem is the quantity. Both white and red are excellent, because there was very healthy fruit, concentrated. But very little fruit, because of coulure."

It's just the second vintage now for the 2013 Crozes-Hermitage Accroche Cœer. It delivers bright raspberry and boysenberry fruit carried by a strong graphite edge. There's lots of singed spice through the energetic finish.

"Because it's young vines, I don't want a lot of extraction here," said Villa of his Crozes. "So short fermentation, no pigéage. The idea is to keep the fruit and freshness here."

The 2013 St.-Joseph Préface is very vibrant, with a strong mesquite edge and lots of brambly grip carrying the blackberry and plum coulis flavors, followed by a long, spice-filled finish.

"Unlike '12, the '13s will need a very full élevage18, maybe even 20 months in some cases. At this time last year, I had bottled most of my '12s, but with '13 most are still in barrel. The structure is so strong and the acidity so racy, they need more élevage," said Villa.

The 2013 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Esprit d'Antan has a bright iron note leading the way, but this quickly delivers a rich, inviting core of plum and blackberry fruit. Singed mesquite and black tea line the finish, with an echo of savory at the very end. The 2013 St.-Joseph Tildé shows a core of steeped plum and blackberry fruit. Its long, spice-filled finish has lovely persistence, with a graphite edge in the background.

"In 2013, with the maturity arriving slowly, but steadily, the spots at altitude that always need time were really the best spots," said Viila. "They're not tannic like '10; they're built on acidity instead."

The 2013 Côte-Rôtie Carmina now blends two-thirds old vines from Fontgent (partially destemmed) and one-third young vines from Lezards (destemmed). It has a lovely mesquite frame, with a strong core of plum, blackberry and loganberry fruit. The finish has energy and drive, with a persistent sanguine hint. The 2013 Côte-Rôtie Belle de Maïa is a new bottling, featuring only old vines from the Fontgent, partially destemmed. It's super energetic, with mouthwatering acidity driving a range of red currant, blackberry coulis, plum paste and anise flavors while singed mesquite and black tea underscore the finish. This is an impressive debut bottling.

The 2013 St.-Joseph White Saut de l'Ange, a rare all-Roussanne bottling, has succulent tangerine and nectarine flavors, along with peach and apricot. A fennel edge and bitter orange note give it cut and persistence.

"For whites, '13 is probably the best vintage since I started my own domaine," said Villa. "The whites have great intensity, but the balance is still lovely."

The 2013 Condrieu Hardin Suspendu is plump and unctuous up front, with green fig and pear notes, but they give way quickly to tangy green almond and mirabelle flavors. The wine has weight, but isn't heavy at all.

These are exciting wines, brimming with fruit and energy. They're on the modern side of the spectrum, but still firmly grounded in terroir. Kudos to Villa, who has created his domaine from the ground up.

France Rhône Valley Northern Rhône

You Might Also Like

Duhig's Strong Debut

Duhig's Strong Debut

Winemaker Harvest Duhig's new Napa Cabernets have nearly 20 years of experience at Caymus …

Feb 27, 2020
Solving Spring Mountain

Solving Spring Mountain

The historic Napa property's longtime vineyard manager has brought its vines—and wines—back …

Feb 20, 2020
Staying the Cabernet Course at Shafer Vineyards

Staying the Cabernet Course at Shafer Vineyards

Doug Shafer shares three vintages of Hillside Select Cabernet going back to 2001

Feb 18, 2020
Off Napa's Beaten Path at Detert Family Vineyard

Off Napa's Beaten Path at Detert Family Vineyard

A short detour in the heart of California Cabernet country reveals some exciting new wines

Feb 13, 2020
Turnbull Turns a Corner

Turnbull Turns a Corner

The longtime Napa Cabernet brand is now living up to its Oakville address thanks to …

Feb 11, 2020
La Gaffelière Regains Its Rightful Place

La Gaffelière Regains Its Rightful Place

After nearly 20 years of replanting and a renewed focus on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, La …

Jan 15, 2020