Unquestionably, the Southern Rhône has enjoyed a trifecta of top vintages that should keep prices stable as well as offer a flood of high quality wines from this treasure trove of value-priced as well as interesting wines that are wonderful matches with an assortment of cuisines.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, October 2011.
Rhône 2011 - Vintage Report
The 2011 vintage in both Northern and Southern Rhône yielded wonderfully-balanced, forward-drinking wines that will be enjoyable well before the two preceding blockbusters. In qualitative terms, the wines are good, rather than great and exhibit freshness and supple tannins, there are strong comparisons with classic, elegant vintages 2006 and 2007.
"consumers should not lose sight of 2011. While that vintage does not possess the opulence and flamboyance of 2009 nor the power, structure and minerality of 2010, 2011 has impressive balance, wonderful charm, and will be more approachable and drinkable at an earlier age."
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, December 2012.
"Based on tastings in the region this past summer (most of the wines are not yet bottled), I give the 2011 vintage in the north a preliminary rating of 90-93 points."
James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator, November 2012.
With over 40 years’ experience of shipping wines from the Rhône, we are delighted to offer you some of the region’s finest wines as they are bottled in 2013. Those wines that have already been shipped are listed below.
Olivier Clape of Cornas and Emilie Boisson of Châteauneuf-du-Pape provide their views on the 2011 vintage in the Rhône.
Rhône 2011 En Primeur
Our 2011 en primeur offer closed in December 2012. To discuss the Rhône 2011 wines and vintage, call Yapp Brothers Wine Merchants on 01747 860423, or email email@example.com.
All the wines listed below were offered en primeur and are annotated either with independent testimonial (and stated as such) or with Jason Yapp’s recent personal tasting notes and scores.
Domaine Georges Vernay
This is an estate that goes from strength to strength. Christine Vernay was awarded ‘Wine Person of the Year 2012’ by the prestigious wine critics Bettane and Desseauve and the estate was elevated to the highest ‘5 star’ status in their ‘Grand Guide des Vins de France 2012’, putting it on a par with only thirty other estates, such as Domaine Romanée-Conti, d’Yquem and Lafite-Rothschild.
"In recent vintages, both wines Chaillées de L'Enfer and especially Coteau de Vernon are some of the greatest dry whites in the world in terms of with their development and their grace."
Le Grand Guide des Vins de France 2012.
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 rich, concentrated, ‘gastronomic’ Condrieu with a bouquet of citrus peel and dried apricots, complex flavours of tropical fruit and roast nuts prior to a long, persistent finish.'.(17/20).
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.
'A marvellously complete and complex, yet beautifully balanced, Viognier with a bright bouquet of violets, peaches and honeysuckle and a rounded, taffeta-textured palate of ripe orchard fruit leading to an ethereal finish.' (18.5/20).
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.
'A lovely, fruit-forward Côte Rôtie with attractive red fruit scents and subtle tarry undertones. More red fruit than black on the palate. A fine acidity and supple tannins. This is emphatically not a blockbuster but is a well-crafted, classic Côte Rôtie that should provide rewarding drinking over the next 5-10 years.' (17.5/20).
Domaine Auguste Clape
Auguste, Pierre and Olivier Clape have delivered yet another hum-dinger of a vintage in 2011. This family domaine is the reference point for Cornas and, having sold all the UK allocation of 2009 and 2010 en primeur, we fully expect that this vintage will go the same way. You have been warned!
After severely reduced yields in 2010, we are delighted to be able to offer a small amount of the Clape’s Côtes du Rhône ('high-quality, de-classified Cornas' Robert Parker) and humble ‘Vin des Amis’ this time around.
Vin de Table ‘Vin des Amis’ rouge
Hailing from a half-hectare parcel of vines just below Cornas, the Clape family’s red Vin de Table (pure Syrah) is a fairly well-kept secret.
'The Clape family’s ‘house’ wine is an unmitigated bargain and rapidly sells out once released. A juicy, exuberant, youthful Northern Rhône Syrah with a wealth of black pepper and black berry scents and flavours supported by a couch of ripe tannins.'.(16/20).
Côtes du Rhône rouge
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.
'Lovely opaque, purple colour. Earthy aromas intermixed with notes of cassis and hedgerow fruit. Warming tannins support a palate of ripe plums and damsons. A wine whose power and complexity belie its humble appellation.'.(16/20).
Made from the Clapes’ younger vine holdings of between 12 and 30 years’ old, the ‘Renaissance’ is a (relatively) forward-drinking Cuvée (raised in used oak casks for 18 months) that can age well for at least a decade.
'Attractive damson and plum aromas with a very pure fruit palate and fine tannins offset by a fresh acidity. Mid-weight, forward-drinking. Very nicely balanced.'.(17/20).
The Clape family’s flagship bottling hails from vines growing in 6 different climats, the grapes from which are vinified separately in large oak tonneaux for up to 2 years prior to a painstaking assemblage, egg white fining and (unfiltered) bottling. It is always a wine made with a close regard for the context of the vintage, never showy or overworked but complex and age-worthy, it is to many observers one of the finest expressions of Northern Rhône Syrah to be found.
'Deep purple robe with a bouquet of blackberry fruit. Cool, granitic attack to the palate with lots of dense, dark, brooding fruit following behind. Its rugged tannins will help it age well for over a decade. Classic Cornas.'.(18.5/20).
Crozes Hermitage and Saint Joseph
Domaine Alain Graillot
Crozes Hermitage rouge
Alain Graillot is a visionary who, in his first vintage in 1985, proved that you didn’t need to be part of a wine-making dynasty with treasured terroir to produce world class Syrah. His philosophy is simple: ‘to produce wines that people can afford and want to drink’. This classic red, which comes from vines on Le Chassis plateau is aged for a year in Burgundy barrels (of 1-6 years of age), then fined but not filtered prior to bottling.
'Attractive, deep purple colour. Crushed berry and black pepper aromas precede a mid-weight palate of sleek, red fruit with fine acidity and supple tannins.' (16.5/20).
£150.00 per case In Bond Octavian.
Domaine Georges Vernay
Saint Joseph ‘Terre d’Encre’ rouge
Syrah grapes from 1.5 hectares of vines grown on granitic soil at Chavanay are hand-harvested and vinified in stainless steel vats prior to a 10 month élevage in 225-litre casks, 10% of which are new. The wine is then filtered prior to bottling.
'This wine carries Christine Vernay’s signature of restraint and finesse in equal measure. Very pure black fruit scents and flavours are supported by elegant tannins and a fine acidity. This will drink well from release and age gracefully for 5+ years.' (17/20).
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
Saint Joseph Rouge 2010 (NB: this is 2010, not 2011!)
The estate bottling of Saint-Joseph (not to be confused with their négociant wine ‘Offerus’) comes from vineyards in the historic heart of the appellation, namely Les Oliviers, Dardouille and Bachasson. In 2009, the Chaves bought a renowned 4 hectare walled vineyard just south of Chave HQ in Mauves called Clos Florentin, that was first planted with vines in the 16th century and has been included in the domaine bottling for the past two vintages. The wine is aged for 18 months in 2-3 year old casks, hence it is released later than most St Joseph.
'Tasting through the different cuvées that will go into the 2010 St. Joseph reveal that it will be slightly less succulent and fat compared to the 2009, with more crushed rock and floral notes as well as terrific intensity, good acidity and a more backward, reserved style. It should prove to be very long-lived, lasting 10-15 years.' RP 91-93, Drink 2011-2026, Robert Parker.
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave remains the lodestar of this Appellation and one of the most celebrated estates in the Northern Rhône. Their wines’ long élévage means that they are released later than the majority of their peers. We will release the 2010 Hermitage from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave in February 2013 on a strict allocation basis, with the 2011 vintage following in 2014. Both vintages were tasted in October 2012.
To register your interest in an allocation of 2010 Hermitage from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave (if you have not done so already), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hermitage blanc 2010
'I tasted through the different cuvees that will go into Chave’s 2010 Hermitage Blanc. Jean-Louis and his father, Gerard, always start with the Peleat, the lightest, most feminine of the cuvees, then move through a succession of such great parcels as Les Rocoules, l’Ermite and Maison Blanche. They are all slightly different, with l’Ermite and Les Rocoules being the most intense. 2010 is obviously a great vintage for white Hermitage, and Chave’s 2010 should come out somewhere between 95 and close to perfection given the remarkable quality of all these cuvees. At nearly one year old, none of these cuvees had more than 5-10 parts per million sulphur, which is virtually nothing.' RP 95-98, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate.
Hermitage rouge 2010
'I tasted through the cuvees of 2010 Hermitage and rated them 93-95 for Les Beaumes and Peleat, and 96-100 for Le Meal, Les Bessards and l’Ermite. In a few months, all of these will be blended together, and the result should be a wine meriting a score in the mid-nineties or higher. It will possess a black/purple color as well as sweet blackberry and cassis fruit intertwined with notes of licorice, graphite and acacia flowers, stunning purity, an intense minerality and a long finish. These wines normally last 25-30 years, even in lighter vintages, so the 2010 should keep for 40-50 years.' RP 95-98+ Drink 2011-2061 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate.
Southern Rhône and Beyond
Le Vieux Donjon
Le Vieux Donjon is a 15 hectare family-run estate which came into being in 1979 when Lucien Michel married Marie-José. They commendably make only one cuvée, from a traditional blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault that is fermented in vat and raised in large oak foudres for 18 months before bottling. It is consistently rated among the finest sources of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
'With respect to the red wines, the 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape (75% Grenache, 15% Syrah and the rest Mourvedre and Cinsault) exhibits lots of tapenade, new saddle leather, garrigue, black currant, black cherry, smoke, earth and gamy/meaty notes. It is a surprisingly full-bodied, rich, layered 2011 that should drink well for 10-15 years.' RP 90-93, Drink 2012-2027 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate.
IGP Les Alpilles
Domaine de Trévallon
IGP Les Alpilles: Domaine de Trévallon rouge
Bottled as a simple ‘Indication Géographique Protégée’ Eloi Dürrbach’s maverick Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend technically lies in Provence, but has strong ties to the Rhône in terms of geography, wine-making and esprit. Low yields (25-30 hl/ha) and no chemicals give thick-skinned grapes that need 2-3 weeks cuvaison. The parcels of grapes are allowed a warm fermentation, using only indigenous yeasts, in small oak foudres where they rest for 18 months before an unfiltered, unfined assemblage and eventual bottling 25 months after the harvest.
'An attractive bouquet of blackcurrants and blackberries. Lots of ripe, red fruit flavours and soft tannins. Not too weighty or complex but very well delineated and immediately appealing. A fresh, bright youthful Trévallon that continues a succession of good vintages.' (17/20).
"Early-drinking, supple reds with an engaging fruitiness. Low tannin content and very accessible."
Jean Livingstone Learmonth on Crozes Hermitage, Decanter magazine, September 2012.