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The Reluctant Superstar

While Andre Perret may not be a household name, in the land of wine and winemakers, the man is a superstar.

As connoisseurs and aficionados peruse wine lists looking for that one bottle that will transform their evening into an unforgettable one, their eyes light up when they come across the wines of Andre Perret.

Whether it is his Saint Joseph or Condrieu, his "Chery" having become a reference point for the entire appellation, Perret is a magician. And while sommeliers and buyers rush to his table at shows, Perret, a naturally discreet man, who speaks only when he has something to say, blushes at the attention, insisting that his wines are the ones that deserve the attention, not him.

Perret began his career as a biologist, but he could not get the vines of Chavanay, a small village in the northern Rhone Valley where he grew up, out of his head or indeed his heart. In 1982, he finally decided to stop fighting with himself and moved back to Chavanay with a degree in viticulture firmly tucked in his belt. When he arrived, he found that he was one of three vintners in the region, Condrieu had gotten lost among a constellation of newcomers and the region was in decline. Perret knew he had his work cut out for him. Undaunted, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work, beginning with the few rows of vines that had belonged to his uncle. The production grew slowly over the years, with extra vineyards being added as the demand grew, and today, he has 12 hectares divided up between Condrieu, Saint Joseph and table wine.

It was Perret's Condrieu that put his name on the map: in 1986, he was at a restaurant in Saint Etienne where Pierre Gagnaire received his second Michelin star. Perret had supplied the Condrieu for the occasion. The rest, as they say, is history.

But while luck and being at the right place at the right time can help, Perret's wines are masterful. His sense of balance is perfect. The wines he offers are fresh, complex, subtle and refreshing all at the same time. Many believe him to be the "Merlin" of wines.

His approach is and has always been classic, beginning with respect for each individual terroir. As such, he now produces several single vineyard wines that are amongst the most sought after in the world. He purposely keeps the domaine small in order to maintain his standards and give lots of attention to every one of his wines that he says are "Burgundian in style without too much wood." He says his winemaking techniques are simple...natural. What he has clearly omitted to factor in is his own talent.

At Eli's List, we have the following:

2012 Saint Joseph Andre Perret -- $60

2011 Saint Joseph "Les Grisieres" Andre Perret -- $68

2012 Condrieu "Chery" Andre Perret -- $120

We should tell you that the "Chery" is Perret's jewel in the crown. At the time of the Roman Empire, due to the growth of the number of vineyards in Gaul and a general overproduction, it was decided that half of Gaul’s vine stocks must be removed. The Emperor Probus demanded that a single hillside must be preserved, his “cherished” hillside, overlooking the Rhone Valley, producing an extraordinary wine. Condrieu “Chéry”, from that famed slope, balances elegance with strength. Its strong nature comes from the exceptional exposure of the hillside and the age of the vines. A legendary wine.