Posts Tagged ‘rhone vintage’

Rhône Ramble – The South  »

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

By the time we arrived in Châteauneuf-du-Pape on Monday, morning mists were clearing to reveal a vista of vines in golden Autumn sunshine. Our first port of call was at Le Vieux Donjon where a smiling Claire Michel told us she was relieved to have completed the complicated 2014 harvest. Hot on the heels of the Wine Advocate’s Rhône guru Jeb Dunnuck, who is a great admirer of this traditional estate, we tasted a vat blend of the short and atypical 2013 harvest which will have a lower Grenache content than usual due to a cool Spring inhibiting fruit development.


Chateauneuf du Pape Fountain

Jonathan at the fountain in Chateauneuf du Pape. We’ve got one just like that…


Next stop up the road at Domaine du Père Caboche, Emilie Boisson concurred that 2014 and 2013 were two very different vintages but both with their individual charms. With lots to do on our three day mission, we sadly did not have too much time to linger before we were back on the road.

This time we pointed the voiture due north-east, heading for the imposing edifice of the Dentelles Montmirail and the picturesque Domaine Saint Gayan. A friendly welcome from Syrah, the domaine’s black labrador, was followed with equally amiable greetings and then tasting from Jean-Pierre Meffre and his son-in-law Christian-Yves.

The departure from the Meffres also meant our leaving the Southern Rhône as we sped north through the industrial landscape of Les Usines Rhoddannienes towards Tain L’Hermitage and the more hilly North. We had time for a quick hotel freshen-up before venturing out to replenish our dwindling energy levels with a superb dinner at Le Mangevins, where the quality of the cuisine is matched equally with the depth of the wine list which had some absolute gems at “rub your eyes” great value prices.

Fully sated we repaired to bed ready for day two…



Rhône Wine: Old and New  »

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Our recent archive release of older vintages from the Rhône has been a spectacular hit, particularly with restaurants looking to get exciting, great value wines on their list for the Autumn. Trade magazine ‘Drinks Business’ reported as follows:

“According to Yapp’s Bianca Ford, there has been keen interest from the on-trade. ‘I think these older vintages are giving very good quality wines at fairly decent prices. Sommeliers are looking for new lines with more London restaurants starting to compose Rhône lists. The Rhône is definitely up and coming from the last few en primeur campaigns I’ve done, and in a way the high price of Bordeaux has helped.’ Yapp’s 2013 prices are set to be released early next month.” Yapp Releases Old Gems from the Rhône.


Cornas: Domaine Clape


We still have some of the older wines – check out our website or give us a call. If, however, you’d like to receive information on our forthcoming Rhône 2013 en primeur release, please email us on and you’ll be the first to know.

Our team will be in the Rhône next week, reporting back shortly.



Patterns  »

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

I’ve never been sure why I was blessed (or is that cursed?) with a need to see patterns in everything. Clearly sometimes they just don’t exist but this fact sadly doesn’t stop me from looking. One of my favourite paintings (Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles 1952) intrigues every time I see it – there’s patterns aplenty in a sea of colour but they seem to change on every revisit.


Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock


So, if patterns are my theme of the day – if anyone shares this disposition – here’s a quick test – answers at the end!


Every month (yes, that’s a pattern) I send my, soon to be 4 year old, nephew a CD of songs (that’s a ‘CD Burn’ for anyone under 20 or a ‘mix tape’ for anyone over 20) that I think he should hear. I’m not really that bothered if he’ll like them but at least he will have heard them so he can make his own choice. This is for his musical well being – my sister is still prone to playing music just from the 1980s – and we all are aware of some of the howlers there. I also play through the selection to check that’s there nothing untoward lyrically in the mix since he went to nursery singing a song that I’d forgotten contained a few swear words – that sadly neither Charlie or my sister has let me forget. I played track 1 of his last selection on the drive into work today, it was the impetus for today’s blog – it’s hidden in the numbers above.


Angus Young - AC/DC


Patterns abound everywhere and the wine trade is far from immune. It’s the numbers and the seasons – I certainly drink more Loire red in the summer than I do the winter. I opened one of my favourites (Chinon: l’Arpenty) in January this year and despite the weather it still tasted of summer. Everyone talks of a certain year being better than another, so fits in with how my mind works – so for southern rhône reds 2007>2008. Then I hear that we’ve just sold a ‘vertical’ – patterns, patterns and more patterns!

So, now for the answers:

XX05-XX10: Jancis Robinson’s rule of thumb with vintages “I say, confessing that even I as a wine professional can’t carry a vintage chart for every single wine region in my head, that the last few vintages divisible by five were pretty good for most wines: 2000, 1995, 1990 and 1985. (The rule breaks down at 1980 but people who choose to drink 25 year-old wine in a restaurant need no help from me.)”
42-39-56: The vital statistics of an Antipodean lady encountered by Bon Scott in Tasmania in the 1970s (AC/DC’s Whole Lotta Rosie)
05-07-09-10: Solid Rhône Vintages – check out our current best sellers here!



Rhône Reconnaissance (Day 4)  »

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Jean-Pierre Meffre - Domaine Saint Gayan

Jean-Pierre Meffre - Domaine Saint Gayan

It’s our final day in the Rhône valley and we are beginning to flag a little as we wend our way out of Orange once again at 8.30am.  We’ve long since given up trying to convince friends and family that tasting wine is an arduous task, but you can have too much of a good thing.  We are now well into three figures for wines tasted and considered this week for our Rhône 2009 vintage report, so we are both looking forward to getting back home.  Yet it’s hard to feel sorry for ourselves as we roll up at Domaine Saint Gayan in 20 degree sunshine.  Its 9am and Mont Ventoux towers above us in a blue sky, beautiful but brutal, and Jean-Pierre Meffre takes us through his gamme covering Sablet, Rasteau, Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (where he owns less than a hectare that abuts the vineyards of Beaucastel).  We taste a succession of vintages and its clear that the 2009′s will have a freshness and elegance by comparison with their beefier 2007 siblings.

Heading north (on the home stretch now) we arrive at Domaine Biguet just outside Saint Péray, west of Valence. We’re an hour late for our tasting but Jean-Louis Thiers remains relaxed and promptly shows us in to his neat tasting room.  Saint Péray is commonly recognised for its sparkling wines that historically out-priced Champagne, but the still version (also made from 100% Marsanne) deserves to be better known, with aromas of orchard fruit and a ripe, rich palate.

Our final tasting en route to Lyon airport is fittingly at Domaine Georges Vernay in Condrieu.  Here we taste the range of 2009 Viogniers for which the estate is justifiably world-renowned, as well as red Côtes du Rhône (interestingly from vines within the AOC limits of Condrieu) and a sleek St Joseph from 35 year old vines.  Paul Amsellem (Christine Vernay’s husband) is gamely hosting a large party of Norwegians, so winemaker Christine conducts our tasting and the conversation flows from yields and lieu-dits to the ‘dematerialisation’ of the music industry.

Alas, we have to flee as our return flight beckons, but it’s been one hell of a week!

Jason & Tom.

Rhone 2009 Grapes

Rhône Reconnaissance (Day 3)  »

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Fortified by a superb dinner at Guy Julien’s truffle-orientated restaurant ‘Le Beaugravière’ in Montdragon (which has a legendary Rhône wine list) we arrived in Châteauneuf-du-Pape on Wednesday morning greeted by a blue sky and southern sunshine.

At Le Vieux Donjon Marie-José Michel and her daughter Claire gave us a warm welcome and the happy news that the Rhône 2009 vintage had surpassed their expectations. We then sampled a bottle of their excellent white Châteauneuf’ 2009. Made from equal volumes of Clairette and Roussanne this mid-weight, un-oaked offering has subtle citrus and ‘fleurs blanches’ scents and a bright, palate of white orchard fruit underscored by a clean acidity. It is drinking wonderfully well right now and should continue to do so for a further 3 years. Claire then produced a cask sample of the red Le Vieux Donjon 2009 which exhibited a powerful bouquet of red fruit and a complex palate infused with garrigue berry and Provençal herb notes. We then compared with a bottle of the blockbuster 2007 vintage (which still has plenty of youthful vigour) and although the 2009 is a shade lighter and less concentrated (dare we say more feminine?) it is clearly a superb and age-worthy wine.

Domaine du Père Caboche

Domaine du Père Caboche

Down the road at Domaine du Père Caboche another young vigneronne, Emile Boisson, was equally upbeat about the 2009 vintage. The Boisson family is renowned for producing forward-drinking, fruit accentuated wines for immediate gratification. Their white Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 is a classic with a fresh, sapid palate and attractive white peach aromas. It is cleaner and zestier than most of its peers and you could happily drink it as an aperitif. The principal cuvée of red Châteauneuf’, called simply ‘Domaine du Père Caboche’, has a bright bouquet of crushed red berries and a supple, silky palate of warming red fruit flavours and ripe, sweet tannins. This is a wine for shameless hedonistic consumption while waiting for grander, more contemplative wines to mature. The Boissons’ flagship wine called ‘Elisabeth Chambellan’, from 100 year-old vines on ‘La Crau’ plateau, is deeper, darker, richer and more complex than the regular bottling but it retains the domaine’s signature of seductive, come-hither fruit. It will age well for a decade – if you’ve got the patience to wait that long.

Having completed our tastings in Châteauneuf’ we then headed south to Les Baux to sample the wines of Domaine de Trévallon. Strictly speaking this is in Provence and not the Rhône valley but it’s certainly a wine that appeals to Rhône enthusiasts so we were keen to pay a visit. After successfully negotiating the backwaters of Les Alpilles we were greeted by Antoine Dürrbach and his younger sister Ostiane who are both now firmly involved in the family business. We kicked-off with a tasting of the rare and idiosyncratic white Domaine de Trévallon 2009. Made from a unique blend of Marsanne (45%), Roussanne (45%), Chardonnay (7%) and Grenache Blanc (3%) raised in oak barrels (half of which are new) this is rich, powerful, gastronomic wine that probably requires a bit of bottle-age and a food accompaniment to be seen at its best. We then sampled the 2009 red Syrah from barrel which had an impressive purple colour and a core of concentrated sweet, black fruit over fine-grained tannins. We then tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon which had a lovely cassis bouquet, very bright fruit and a fresh acidity. The obvious thing to next was to sample a blend of the two together which produced a really harmonious result – a great balance of berry aromas, ripe fruit, sweet tannin and clean acidity. Considering its southern location Domaine de Trévallon is a very vintage sensitive wine and it appears that the 2009 is going to be a classic. As in Châteauneuf-du-Pape some of the raw power of the 2007’s might be missing but there is great balance and purity which will yield a wine of elegance and enormous future gratification.

After another day spent tasting young Rhône wines there is really only one choice of liquid refreshment – a cold demi pression or two in ‘Le Mistral’ bar in Orange.

Jason & Tom.

Rhône Reconnaissance (Day 2)  »

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

(Continuing the voyage down the Rhône valley this week, to catch up with vigneron friends and get an insight into the Rhône 2009 vintage).rhone-2009

Domaine Jean-Louis Chave is a key reference point for the entire Rhône valley, and securing an audience with Jean-Louis himself is never easy.  Space precludes going into too much detail here, but the red Chave Hermitage 2009 has the potential to be a legendary wine and on the strength of our cask tasting I would be surprised if Jean-Louis did not produce a bottling of his prized Cuvée Cathelin.  All of the components that are required for a classic, age-worthy red Hermitage are here – a wealth of dark fruit flavours and well-structured tannins underscored by a fine acidity.  The finished wine won’t hit these shores until Spring 2012, but it will be worth the wait.  Not to be overlooked is the Chave’s peerless white Hermitage which should also be ‘bien classique’ in this impressive vintage.

Maxime Graillot Kicks Back in the Cellar

Maxime Graillot Kicks Back in the Cellar

Just South of Tain l’Hermitage, at Les Chenes Verts, young Maxime Graillot exudes confidence at the purpose-built winery he shares with his semi-retired father Alain. Their red Crozes Hermitage is juicy and fruity and will provide rewarding drinking from the off.  A new negoçiant cuvée of Cornas called ‘Equis’ was hugely impressive with a core of dark Cassis fruit over a foundation of ripe, subtle tannins. We wound up a great day’s tasting with the Graillots’ fresh, youthful white Crozes (20% Marsanne / 80% Roussanne) already bottled under screw cap and selling rapidly.

Tomorrow we head south for Châteauneuf-du-Pape to see if the wines of the Cotes-du-Rhone Meridional can compete with their cousins in the North.

À demain (hotel wi-fi permitting),

Jason & Tom