Posts Tagged ‘rhone vintage’

Rhône Ramble – Part 2  »

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Bright eyed and bushy tailed after a good night’s kip we were now ready for the Northern part of our Rhône foray. First stop was a visit to long-standing Yapp supplier and Rhône ‘royalty’ Jean-Louis & Erin Chave. On the way we dropped into the 4 hectare Clos Florentin vineyard which is where the Chave’s have Roussanne vines from they produce the divine Saint Joseph ‘Céleste’ Blanc.


conkers & vines

Vines at Clos Florentin. The Chave’s traditionally begin their harvest ‘When the first conker falls’


Moving onto their newly-expanded cellars in Mauve, we were given an informative talk and tasting by Jean-Louis of the 2013 Hermitage white and red that is currently in barrel. It was fascinating to taste the nuances of the individual ‘lieux dits’ that are vinified separately ahead of the final blending that produces their iconic Hermitage. Jean-Louis is a consummate wine maker and has a progressive outlook when it comes to modernising the Domaine. The recently-developed cellars were impressive but it was also fascinating to hear him talk of the tradition that has been carried down through the many Chave generations and he is very passionate about being in tune with nature and the soil when he is making his wines. Indeed, he stated that his Grandfather’s mantra that “the harvest should begin when the first conker falls” still works today.


Team Yapp chez Chave

Jason & Tom catch up with old friends (Jean-Louis’ parents) Gérard & Monique Chave. In the background you can see the next generation in waiting.


From Mauves, we drove on to another Yapp stalwart, and the dark, brooding wines of Pierre & Oliver Clape in Cornas. This father and son team consistently produce stunning wines vintage on vintage and it is no surprise that we sell through our allocation rapidly! Another tasting from barrels of their 2013 affirmed that this is shaping up to be a classic vintage. Similar to the excellent 2005 and a certain ‘vin de garde’.


Olivier Clape - Cornas 2013

Olivier Clape taking a barrel sample of the 2013 Cornas


To finish what had been an excellent day of tasting we whizzed down to Brézème and Domaine Lombard. We have been importing these wines for some time from wine maker Jean-Marie Lombard, but recently he sold up and retired and we were keen to meet the new owners. Julien and Emmanuelle Montagnon were most welcoming and we were all impressed with their enthusiasm and energy in what they were doing. The Domaine has had some major investment in terms of equipment and buildings and Julien is very keen to expand both the quality and the recognition of wines from this region. To this end they are soon to be certified organic. Certainly in terms of what we tasted they are on the right track and you will need to keep an eye out on our website and 2015 list for evidence of this progression and some exciting new wines.


Maxime and Antoine Graillot

Maxime and Antoine Graillot


Day three was upon us and any sadness about leaving what has been a stunning whistle-stop tour of the Rhône valley was tempered with the knowledge that we still had three premier domaines to visit before our flight from Lyon. First up was a visit to Domaine Alain Graillot to meet with Antoine & Maxime Graillot alongside their good friend and business partner Thomas Schmittel. The Frères Graillot have been continuing their father’s great work and the Domaine goes from strength to strength. Thomas described the difficult 2014 vintage as one where they ‘learnt a lot’. Time will tell how this will develop but for now the 2013 were showing very well indeed.


Patrick Jasmin

Patrick Jasmin pours some 2009


Leaving the flat Chassis plateau and Crozes Hermitage, we continued ever northward to the steep slopes of Côte Rôtie and Domaine Patrick Jasmin. With his cellars in the heart of Ampuis Patrick produces elegant wines with plenty of structure and depth. He produces just one cuvée of Côte Rôtie from different parcels of vines located in both the Côte Brune and the Côte Blonde. It was most interesting to see Patrick take samples from several barrels to give us an impromptu blending of his 2013 vintage! We also got to taste a flight of vintages back to 2009 which was a top year and it was indeed a top wine.


Team Yapp - Patrick & Arlette Jasmin

Yapp and the Jasmin’s share lunch and some laughs in Ampuis


We had a most enjoyable lunch with Patrick and his wife Arlette just down the road from their cellars at Bistro de Sérine, where Patrick caused some amusement by complaining that he often could find no food in the house and was glad to be able to take us to the Bistro. Arlette remarked that perhaps his stout figure did not necessarily reflect the validity of his complaint. We’ll leave you to decide!

Our final stop was at Domaine Georges Vernay for a quick taste of the latest vintages before we headed into the hills for a look at the stunning terraced vineyards of Château Grillet.


Château Grillet

The Château Grillet ‘amphitheatre’ of vines


As our plane departed Lyon to eventually join the Heathrow stacking system later that evening, we had time to reflect on our visits and discuss our tasting notes. Do watch out for the definitive Rhône Report that Jason Yapp is putting the finishing touches to ahead of our launch of our ‘en primeur’ Rhône offerings!


Jason Yapp - Cornas

Jason compiling notes for the Yapp Rhône Report



Rhône Ramble – The South  »

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Chateauneuf du Pape Fountain

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


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


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.


Jean-Pierre and Emilie Boisson

Jean-Pierre and Emilie Boisson – Domaine du Père Caboche


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.


Jean-Pierre Meffre - Domaine Saint Gayan

Jean-Pierre Meffre – Domaine Saint Gayan


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.


Team Yapp - Chateauneuf du Pape

Team Yapp hit Châteauneuf


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.