Rhône 2009 Vintage Report and Offer
"At the minimum, 2009 is an excellent vintage in the south… but where 2009 is great (and it truly is) is in the northern Rhône. I can say that without a doubt it is the finest overall vintage in the north since 1999, and probably since 1990."
Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, October 2010
With over forty years’ experience in shipping wines from the Rhône and as the current IWC Rhône Specialist of the Year 2010, we reckon we know a thing or two about this region.
Rhône 2009 is unquestionably a ‘Grand Millésime’.
The Northern Rhône appellations of Côte Rôtie, Hermitage and Cornas all benefitted from a cold and wet winter that provided essential water reserves. This was critical during August’s high temperatures and low rainfall. The harvest at Cornas began on 3rd September, only a week later than in 2003, but good grape acidity and phenolic ripeness gave the vintage excellent balance – ‘exuberant and sexy, a bit like a big 2001’ according to Pierre Clape.
In the Southern Rhône, the heat meant that volumes were somewhat reduced, but wine makers were delighted with the quality of the harvest. These wines may lack the raw power of the 2007 ‘vintage of a lifetime’, but they have a freshness and elegance that shines through and are undoubtedly superb, age-worthy wines.
We are delighted to be able to offer a comprehensive range of Rhône 2009 wines from the region’s leading winemakers.
Some of these wines are already bottled and shipped, therefore you can click through and buy these wines online immediately for delivery, as normal. If a wine is not available online now, it was part of our Rhône 2009 en primeur 'in bond’ offer which is now closed. Any unsold allocation of these wines will be made available for sale when our 2011 Wine List is published in March and the website will be updated when that wine arrives in stock.
If you have any questions please telephone Jason, Tom or Bianca at Yapp Brothers - 01747 860423 - we will be able to advise you regarding these wines and what your options are regarding storage.
Listed below are the wines with Jason Yapp’s recent personal tasting notes and scores:
Condrieu ‘Terroirs’: François Merlin
An attractive honeysuckle and white peach bouquet yields to a mid-weight palate that exhibits a generous weight of ripe orchard fruit against a firm minerally background prior to a long, savoury, saline-edged finished. An impressive effort from an up-and-coming estate in a superior vintage.
Drink now – 2015 (16.5/20). Available to buy online now.
Domaine Georges Vernay
Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes ‘Le Pied de Samson’ Blanc
Grown above the central escarpment of Condrieu on the upper plateau this un-oaked Viognier exhibits wonderful tropical fruit aromas and has a beguiling palate of white peaches and apricots with subtle mineral undertones and a long, clean, fresh finish. It is an incredibly elegant and finely-crafted wine that would give many a ‘vrai’ Condrieu a very good run for its money. Bottled Spring 2010.
Will drink well 2010-2012 on its youthful fruit. (16.5/20). Available to buy online now.
Condrieu ‘Les Terrasses de L’Empire’
An inviting bouquet of exotic fruit precedes a lovely fleshy palate of ripe peaches and apricots followed by a subtle, sophisticated and elegant finish. This bottling does not have the whistles and bells of its two ‘senior’ siblings but it has charm and finesse in spades and sets the bar very high for a ‘regular’ estate bottling.
It should keep happily for a further 5 years but is already irresistible. (17.5/20). Available to buy online now.
Condrieu ‘Les Chaillées d'Enfer’
This cuvée of Condrieu hails from vines dating back to 1957 the fruit of which is allowed to ripen for as long as possible prior to picking. It is then fermented and raised in oak barrels 25% of which are new. A barrel sample tasted at the Vernays’ ‘Maison du Viognier’ in Condrieu in November 2010 revealed a wine of immense concentration and extraction with a toasty bouquet of dried fruits and nuts and an amazingly rich, powerful and persistent palate – a blockbuster Condrieu if you will.
This is a ‘big’ and bold wine which should age well for 10 years on the sheer weight of its fruit alone. (17.5/20).
Condrieu ‘Coteau de Vernon’
The Coteau de Vernon is a single-vineyard representing the prized ‘sweet spot’ in the centre of Condrieu’s principal escarpment. The 2009 cask sample revealed textbook dried fruit and ‘agrume’ aromas and a wonderfully complex palate with diverse flavours of honey, nuts, white fruit and minerals. It is underscored by an impressive acidity which should give it at least a decade’s aging potential. This is benchmark Viognier that represents an object lesson in confident, understated wine making.
Côte Rôtie: Patrick Jasmin
Patrick Jasmin has the privilege of owning 11 parcels of vines spread over 8 different lieu-dits which gives him a broad palette of fruit from which to make his final assemblage. His vineyards are planted in a field blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier. Patrick affirms that the 2009 vintage is the best he has experienced since he took the helm here in 1999. Tasting through the barrel samples in November 2010 it is clear that the more northerly Côte Brune yielded dense, dark black fruit with great concentration and rugged tannins. The Côte Blonde wines are much more perfumed and expressive with great finesse and good acidity. The finished wine should be a happy marriage of power and elegance – a rich, aromatic, age-worthy, offering steeped in ripe red fruit flavours against a fine tannic structure.
Drink 2013-2025. (17.5/20).
Joël & Roman Champet
Côte Rôtie: Joël & Roman Champet
Father and son Joël and Roman Champet farm 3 hectares of vines in the middle of ‘La Viallière’ vineyard on the schist and mica soils of the Côte Brune. Traditionalists at heart they eschew the intervention of oenologues and advisers preferring to follow their own tried and tested methodology. Their 2009 Côte Rôtie ‘La Viallière’ is a classical Northern Rhône wine in a markedly superior vintage. A bouquet of violets and blackberries precedes an alluring mid-weight palate packed with dark, autumnal fruit over earthy tannins. This will be approachable from release (if decanted) and will age well for a further 5-10 years. If one looks at the release prices of ‘big name’ wines in Côte Rôtie today this understated, honest, well-crafted wine looks to represent outstanding value for money. (95% Syrah, 5% Viognier).
Alain & Maxime Graillot
Crozes Hermitage Blanc: Alain Graillot
Made from a blend of 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne raised in both tank and barrel this zesty, fruit accentuated white Crozes’ is a modern classic. A bouquet of apricots and almonds with subtle citrus nuances precedes a bright fruity palate of white peaches offset by a savoury, dry finish. Bottled under a Stelvin® screw-cap this uplifting, forward-drinking white Rhône makes for a fine aperitif or partner to seafood.
(16/20). Available to buy online now.
Crozes Hermitage Rouge ‘Equinoxe’: Maxime Graillot
Maxime Graillot’s Spring bottling of Syrah is deliberately produced for exuberant, youthful carefree drinking and is bottled under Stelvin® screwcap. With an impressive dark purple colour and attractive berry scents it has a palate of juicy ripe black and red berries, soft supple tannins and pleasing peppery undertones.
It should drink perfectly well over the next 2-3 years, but why wait? (15/20). Available to buy online now.
Crozes Hermitage Rouge ‘Domaine des Lises’: Maxime Graillot
Domaine des Lises is 33 year-old Maxime Graillot’s personal vineyard that borders his father Alain’s estate on Les Chassis plateau above Pont-de-l’Isère from which he first produced wine in the 2004 vintage. The 2009 vintage is a revelation with a beguiling deep purple colour, an intense palate of sweet, ripe summer berries, a fine acidity and ripe tannins. It may not have the complexity or longevity of his father’s wine but it is a joy to drink now ‘sur les fruits’ and should have a happy half decade ahead of itself. (Pure Syrah, 100% de-stemmed).
Crozes Hermitage Rouge: Alain Graillot
Denser and more muscular than Maxime Graillot’s precocious Domaine des Lises offering the 2009 Crozes Hermitage from Alain Graillot has textbook black fruit aromas, earthy tannins and a bright acidity. Still a little closed and subdued when tasted from barrel past experience suggests that this is a wine that will flourish with 3-5 years bottle-age and continue to drink well for a further decade.
Saint Joseph Rouge: Alain Graillot
Alain Graillot only has 1.5 hectares of vines in Saint Joseph making this wine a comparative rarity. A bouquet of red and black cherries yields to a palate of ripe plums and damsons over a background of supple, silky tannins with peppery undertones. This is a bright, juicy and youthful wine for immediate gratification.
It will drink well over the next 3-5 years. (16.5/20).
Domaine Auguste Clape
Vin de Table ‘Vin des Amis’: Domaine Auguste Clape
Hailing from a half-hectare parcel of vines just below Cornas the Clape family’s red Vin de Table is a fairly well kept secret and an unmitigated bargain. Production is miniscule and with the 2009 vintage being the first year that has been legally eligible to bear its vintage demand will surely far out-strip supply. This is an exuberant, youthful, black-fruited wine for carefree forward drinking. (Pure Syrah).
Bottled September 2010. Drink 2011-2013. (15.5/20).
Côtes du Rhône Rouge: Domaine Auguste Clape
Firmer and denser than its Vin de Pays sibling this is another wine whose humble origins (to the south and the east of Cornas) give it an extremely favourable price tag. It is a mid-weight wine made from pure Syrah that is, in all but name, a junior Cornas. Scents and flavours of dark, autumnal fruit are backed by a couch of ripe tannins that can easily support 5 years bottle-age.
Cornas ‘Renaissance’: Domaine Auguste Clape
Made from the Clapes’ younger vine holdings of between 12 and 25 years-old, the Cuvée Renaissance is a (relatively) forward drinking Cuvée (raised in used oak casks for 18 months) that can age well for at least a decade. The component parts of the 2009 vintage revealed a wealth of sweet, ripe, complex black fruit flavours supported by deep, earthy tannins and a fine natural acidity.
Drink 2014-2020+ (18.5/20).
Cornas: Domaine Auguste Clape
The old vine barrel selections of the Clapes’ 2009 Cornas showed all the hallmarks of a ‘Grand Vin’ in a fabulous vintage - sweet dark fruit and complex tastes of earth, spices, pepper and truffles with a superb supporting structure of grainy tannins and a fine, palate-cleansing acidity.
It should start to be approachable in about 5 years time and age well over the next 2 decades. (19/20).
Hermitage: Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
Tasting through the barrel selections for both the red and white Hermitage 2009 at Domaine Jean-Louis Chave with Jean-Louis Chave in November 2010 it is already abundantly clear (pre-assemblage) that this is going to be a superb vintage for this iconic estate. All the raw materials are here to produce great wines and as Jean-Louis is a fastidious blender, rejecting any barrels that do not meet his exacting standards, it is safe to assume that both the red and white Hermitage 2009 are going to be ‘Grand Vins’. Jean-Louis even hints that he may produce a bottling of his legendary red Cuvée Cathelin – which would represent only the 7th such release since the 1990 debut.
The 2008 vintage was a challenging one in Hermitage which required constant work in the vineyard and the Chaves harvested an atypically small crop of grapes aided by optimum picking conditions. Both the red and white wines showed great promise at our recent tasting – they do not have the raw power of the 2009’s but they have great fruit, balance and finesse.
We will release the 2008 Hermitage from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave in February 2011 on a strict allocation basis. Anyone purchasing 2008 Hermitage will be offered an equal volume of the 2009 vintage when it is released in 2012.
To register your interest in an allocation of 2008 Hermitage from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave please contact us.
Saint Péray ‘Nature’: Domaine Biguet
The Southernmost appellation of the Northern Rhône’s West Bank specialises in producing still and sparkling white wines. This still Saint Péray from veteran producer Jean-Louis Thiers is made from pure Marsanne grown on a soil of schist and sandy granite. It has a subtle bouquet of apricots and white flowers and a fine fleshy (unoaked) palate of ripe orchard fruit with appealing minerally undertones and an elegant dry finish. This will drink well over the next 3 years and would make a fine accompaniment to fish or chicken in cream-based sauces.
(15.5/20). Available to buy online now.
Brézème Blanc: Jean-Marie Lombard
The satellite appellation of Brézème, located 14 kilometres south of Valence at Livron-sur-Drôme, only boasts a handful of wine-makers but its slopes have a fine elevated exposure and good granitic soil and some excellent wines are produced. This rare white Brézème is made from an unusual blend of 8% Roussanne, 12% Viognier and 80% Marsanne. It has an attractive bouquet of acacia flowers and dried fruits and a rich, rounded palate with hints of apricots and almonds and a long, dry, finish.
It will drink well over the next 3 years. (16/20). Available to buy online now.
Brézème Rouge ‘Grand Chêne’: Jean-Marie Lombard
This earthy dark Syrah has classic black fruit aromas and a palate packed with dark hedgerow fruit against a backdrop of ripe, grainy-tannins. It is not unlike a hybrid between a Cornas and a Crozes-Hermitage and should drink at its peak between 5 and 10 years of age.
Brézème Rouge ‘Eugène de Monicault’: Jean-Marie Lombard
This is Monsieur Lombard’s flagship wine, made from pure Syrah raised for a year in 3-5 year-old barrels. It exhibits wonderful scents of blackberries and black cherries and has a rich, earthy palate and generous warming tannins. Like its ‘Grand Chêne’ sibling it will repay 2-3 years bottle-age and will drink well for a decade thereafter.
Domaine du Père Caboche
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc: Père Caboche
Jean-Pierre Boisson and his daughter Emilie produce a fresh, racy, consistently pleasing white Châteauneuf-du-Pape from a blend of 40% Roussanne and 20% each of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc and Clairette. It is vinified in stainless steel and the malolactic fermentation is blocked by a combination of chilling and filtration. With a pleasant citrus bouquet and a ripe zesty palate of white currants and yellow plums this is one of the few white Châteauneuf’s that one could happily drink without food although it will stand up well to fish, chicken and vegetable dishes.
Drink now - 2013. (16/20). Available to buy online now.
Vin de Pays de Vaucluse ‘Petit Caboche’
The Boissons' entry level red wine, made from pure Grenache, is a hedonistic, ripe, juicy southern red with bright berry scents and flavours, pleasing peppery notes and supple young tannins. This is always a pleasurable wine for off-the-bat drinking and the 2009 vintage exhibits characteristic exuberance and charm.
Drink now - 2013. (15/20). Available to buy online now.
Côtes du Rhône Villages: Château La Côte Rouge
Made from a blend of 80% Grenache Noir, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre grown in the village of Pujaut (6 kilometres south of Châteauneuf-du-Pape) this is a wonderful forward drinking wine for immediate gratification. A bouquet of ripe berries and cherries precedes a palate of juicy, sweet ripe cassis fruit over silky, seductive tannins.
Drink now – 2013. (16/20). Available to buy online now.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge: Père Caboche
Made from a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre and a diverse field blend of lesser varieties this heady offering is bursting with crushed berry scents and flavours. It is not an intellectual wine for contemplative retrospection but a fruit-forward, garnet-coloured, voluptuous ‘Vin de Plaisir’ that will provide rewarding drinking over the next 3-5+ years.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge ‘Elisabeth Chambellan’: Père Caboche
The Boissons’ flagship cuvée is made from fruit harvested from 100 year-old vines grown on La Crau Plateau. It is blended from 75% Grenache Noir, 15 % Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre and a smattering of Cinsault and lesser varieties. It is deeper, denser and darker than the ‘regular’ bottling with stewed berry and cocoa scents preceding a palate of sweet, dark hedgerow fruit supported by ripe tannins. It can be approached from bottling if decanted and will age gracefully for a decade if properly cellared.
Le Vieux Donjon
Heralded by Robert Parker as one of ‘The world’s greatest wine estates’ the Michel family who run Le Vieux Donjon are remarkably modest preferring to let their wines speak for themselves. Commendably they produce no elaborate ‘special’ cuvées making a single white and red wine only. Made from equal parts of Roussanne and Clairette raised entirely in stainless steel this fresh citrus-scented wine has a mid-weight palate of fleshy white orchard fruit with subtle mineral undertones and an elegant, dry finish.
Drink now - 2013. (16/20). Available to buy online now.
A cask sample of the red 2009 Le Vieux Donjon tasted en place in November exhibited a powerful bouquet of red fruit and a complex palate infused with garrigue berry and Provençal herb notes against a background of fine-grained tannins. This does not have quite the same concentration as the blockbuster 2007 but it is beautifully balanced with a core of very pure fruit and oodles of finesse. It is a finely-crafted offering from an estate at the top of its game and, on past performance, should come into its own between 5 and 10 years from bottling.
Domaine de Trévallon
Domaine de Trévallon – Rouge
Bottled as a simple ‘Vin de Pays’ Eloi Dürrbach’s maverick Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend technically lies in Provence and not the Rhône valley but it is so closely aligned with the Rhône in terms of geography, wine-making and esprit it seemed churlish not to include it in this offer. The 2009 red Syrah, sampled from barrel, 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 do 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.
This will hit its optimum drinking window in about 5 years time and should drink well for a decade thereafter. (18/20).
Tasting the Rhône 2009 vintage - Cornas chez Clape.
"No British wine merchant understands the region better."
Robert Sandall, GQ Magazine January 2009
"3 tastings today confirmed superlative nature of 09 in N Rhone."
Jancis Robinson MW, Twitter, 9th November 2010
To discuss the Rhône 2009 wines and vintage, call Yapp Brothers Wine Merchants on 01747 860423, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.