MASTERS OF THE VINES: PIERRE-JEAN VILLA, RISING STAR OF RHÔNE VALLEY

MASTERS OF THE VINES: PIERRE-JEAN VILLA, RISING STAR OF RHÔNE VALLEY

Red Apron Fine Wines And Spirits
Th 4 03/01/2024 4 minutes of reading
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Pierre-Jean Villa has swiftly become one of the most esteemed winemakers in the Rhône Valley despite being relatively a new player with his own eponymous estates established only since 2009.

Pierre Jean Villa 1

With roots in both France and Spain, Pierre-Jean Villa enjoyed his upbringing in the serene village of Chavanay within the Northern Rhône Valley, just a short distance from the renowned village of Condrieu. He grew up surrounded by vines and vignerons in the northern Rhône town of Chavanay, but learned to make wine in Burgundy! This may also explain his bent for finesse today.

 In 1992, Pierre-Jean Villa began his winemaking career in Burgundy, working for prestigious estates such as Mommessin and Clos de Tart. In 2003, Pierre-Jean Villa came back to the Rhône Valley and became the manager at Vins de Viennes. This company is a joint venture by Yves Cuilleron, Pierre Gaillard, and François Villard to restore some abandoned vineyards, and also to a négociant business.  For seven years Pierre Jean handled the administration and winemaking at the firm, eventually becoming the fourth partner.

In 2009, the young man made a brave decision. Without the benefit of any inheritance, or indeed any backing, Pierre-Jean Villa handed in his keys and started his own Domaine Pierre Jean Villa from scratch.

Pierre Jean Villa 1

Portrait of Jean-Pierre Villa in his vineyard

He embarked on his winemaking journey with plots in St Joseph, Condrieu, and Côte-Rôtie, including a parcel in Seyssuel for his Esprit d’Antan. Some of these parcels, notably the long-abandoned terraces near his new winery in Chavanay, required clearing and planting.

Pierre-Jean Villa made the vintage of 2009 at the domain of his friend Jean-Michel Gerin in Ampuis, all the while overseeing the transformation of an abandoned fruit-processing facility on the western outskirts of Chavanay. The following year saw the completion of his new winery.

Presently, Domaine Pierre-Jean Villa encompasses 17 hectares of vineyards spread across a 50-kilometer expanse on both the left and right banks of the Rhône River. This diverse portfolio includes prestigious appellations such as Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, and Côteaux de Seyssuel.

Pierre Jean Villa 1

17 hectares of vineyards accross the prestigious appellations such as Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, and Côteaux de Seyssuel.

Villa believes that the essence of his wines is intricately tied to the unique characteristics of the vineyard soils. His small parcels are strategically situated at varying altitudes, on different slopes, sometimes with challenging access, and most crucially, on a diversity of terroirs. With strong respect for the environment he employs organic farming practices and is progressively adopting biodynamic methods. Pierre-Jean collaborates with biologists and scientists to enhance vineyard biodiversity by planting various tree species like almond, peach, pear, and apple trees, along with indigenous plants.

In the cellar, Pierre-Jean Villa allows the distinct characteristics of his terroirs to shine through in the wines. Despite identifying as a non-interventionist winemaker, he is meticulous in his approach. Depending on the wines, aging in large oak vats can extend up to twelve months. The bottling process is carefully orchestrated in accordance with the lunar calendar.

Pierre Jean Villa 1

"...aging in large oak vats can extend up to twelve months"

Today, the range of Rhone wines from Pierre-Jean Villa is made up of Condrieu, Saint-Joseph and Côte Rôtie. Pierre-Jean takes the best from the traditionalists and from the modernists (those who dominated late in the last century) to make wines that are clean, pure, deep, mineral and elegant.

2 bottles of Carmina opened in a tasting with Jean-Pierre Villa in Vietnam earlier this year

Pierre Jean Villa, Gamine, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes

Made with grapes from very young vines reserved for wines of SaintJoseph and Côte-Rôtie of the first vintage in 2014, they named it Gamine

The perfect introduction to Pierre-Jean Villa's wines. Made from Syrah, it carries harmoniously mingling fruity notes, like cherry, with floral notes, such as violet, with spicy scents with a touch of pepper. Complex wine,  fruity and spicy vivacity and a lovely freshness.

Pierre Jean Villa, Accroche Coeur, Crozes Hermitage

When a vine grows, leaves start to appear and the tip of the plant produces small tendrils that look like a hair fringe in the form of a cow lick (“accroche cœurs”)

100% Syrah. The aromatic intensity of ripe fruit makes this Crozes-Hermitage delicious and intense and lovely. To decant thirty minutes before serving it on charcuterie, black pudding, sweetbreads or grilled meats.

Pierre Jean Villa, Preface, Saint Joseph

Préface comes from the Latin prae: before and fari: to speak. This is the estate’s fi rst wine, preceding the others and soliciting their discovery

Plum, violets, black pepper.It’s classic Northern Rhône syrah, with dark fruit and savory spice balanced by freshness and intense floral aromatics. 

Pierre Jean Villa, Carmina, Cote Rotie

Carmina Burana, the cantate composed by Carl Orff, associates the power of a choir, the purety of voice, the complexity of music and the sensuality of chants. The colour carmine symbolizes passion and force.

This wine has a crimson red colour. The nose is full, with subtle black fruit scents. Delicious on the palate fruit notes, freshness and a lovely velvety structure.

 

 

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