Although he can't boast the long family connection of many French winemakers, Pierre-Jean Villa certainly has a natural talent for the job. He began at Clos de Tart in Burgundy, and although he still has connections in that region (he is involved in a joint project to make Nuits-Saint-Georges), the Rhône has been his focus since 2009, when he created his own domaine here.
Based in the heart of the northern Rhône, his vineyard is made up of lots of little parcels on good slopes, and he makes several wines from various appellations.
His white Collines Rhodaniennes is a 100% viognier wine grown on granite-laden sands that are 350m above sea level. The vines have an average age of 25 years, and the wine is fermented in temperature-controlled casks, before ageing for 12 months in oak barrels. He also makes a 100% syrah varietal under this appellation called Esprit d'Antan, which is planted on schist and quartz slopes at Vienne, and ages for two years in oak barrels.
Pierre-Jean's Saint-Joseph red is cleverly named Tildé, both as a nod to his Spanish roots (it is the name given to the squiggly accent used to emphasise certain letters in the Spanish language) and also to mark the wine as his signature creation: tildé also means a stamp or inscription in French. The grapes come from 40-year-old syrah vines, planted on the northern Rhône's textbook gneiss granite soil, with a south and south-east-facing exposure. After fermenting in a mixture of stainless-steel and large oak barrels, the wine spends a further two years ageing in barrels of various sizes.
Pierre-Jean's Condrieu comes from steep, south- facing granite terraces of relatively young viognier vines. The wine is fermented in oak casks before spending a further 12 months ageing in them too, producing an exquisite, creamy wine.