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Wine of the Week

1996 Christophe Pichon Condrieu, Rhone Valley

(About $26)

Now that Viognier--not to mention all the other Rhone varieties--has become so fashionable in California, it’s worth getting acquainted with Condrieu. Named for the tiny commune just south of the slopes of Co^te Ro^tie where it’s grown, Condrieu is the benchmark for this intriguing white grape. And in 1997, Christophe Pichon made one of the best. Smelling of white peaches and violets, this Condrieu tastes of ripe, golden fruit, but has an appealing earthiness and a dimension that is rarely expressed outside the northern Rhone. It’s an ideal aperitif but goes equally well with food and can stand up to fairly strong flavors.

(Distributed by Martine’s Wines, San Rafael. (415) 485-1800.)

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