Rhône 2012 - Vintage Overview
"While most of France's major wine regions struggled in 2012, the Rhône stands apart. Vintners are positive after a growing season and harvest marked by dry, sunny weather and well-timed rains."
James Molesworth - The Wine Spectator
"As an example of what has happened in the Rhône this year, Patrick Jasmin’s Syrah from the Blonde comes in at 12.44°, very satisfactory. Colours are good in both NORTH and SOUTH, and the wines that I have tasted so far, ranging up to 4 weeks old, have had aromatic fruit and better, more profound tannins than 2011. Growers prefer the vintage to 2011, and consider the wines to have the structure to be successful and to live better than 2011. I do not disagree."
John Livingstone-Learmonth - www.drinkrhône.com
"2012: Surpassing 2011 and producing rich, fruit-loaded and moderately concentrated wines, 2012 was a sunny, dry vintage that should slot in beside, or slightly behind, 2009, in terms of quality. Coming closest, in my mind, to a lighter styled 2010."
Jeb Dunnuck on Châteaunuef-du-Pape 2012 in The Wine Advocate 209, October 2013
Rhône 2012 - Vintage Report
Unlike elsewhere in France, the 2012 vintage in the Rhône was very good, if not necessarily historic, but generally superior to the very respectable 2011 vinatge, with most winemakers preferring the 2012s.
In contrast to this year, when most growers did not start picking until October, most vignerons had finished harvesting in 2012 by the end of September. Generally yields were down 10-20% across the board, but quality was good – comparisons have been made with excellent 2000 vintage – which yielded rounded, fruity wines of great elegance and charm.
Indeed, Jean-Pierre Boisson, patron of Domaine du Père Caboche and long-serving mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape told us that he rated the 2012 vintage amongst the top five of his long career.
"They don't have the ripeness of the 2009s, nor the density and structure of 2010, yet quality is very high (particularly in Hermitage and Cornas), and in most cases, a step up over 2011. Certainly, both 2011 and 2012 are strong vintages, yet I like the purity of fruit in 2012, and believe the wines have more substance and depth."
Jeb Dunnock on Northern Rhônes 2012 - erobertparker.com.
Rhône 2012 - En Primeur Offer
Our en primeur offer is now closed, although we have left the tasting notes and prices on the website. Some of these wines will become available when they are shipped in the next 12 months, so please call our office on 01747 860423 or email email@example.com if you would like to be contacted about particular wines as they arrive.
You can download a PDF copy of our Rhône report and offer here: Rhône 2012 Vintage Report and Offer.
Rhône 2012 - Wines available now for immediate delivery
Domaine Saint Gayan
Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet: Saint Gayan 2012
"Only one bottle in 20 made in the Rhône is white, but when they get the white right they are spot on. Five different grapes go into the luscious Sablet made by Jean-Pierre Meffre, including Viognier and Roussanne. So for a relatively cheap wine, it has rich layers of complexity which I found deeply satisfying."
Simon Hoggart - The Spectator
Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet: Saint Gayan 2012.
Lirac ‘La Fermade’ 2012
"What it lacks in the cachet of a grand appellation this versatile and crowd-pleasing blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul more than repays in the glass. With a bountiful bouquet of apricots and wild flowers and a smooth, sensuous orchard fruit palate preceding a clean, dry finish it makes a great match for fish and chicken dishes.".91/100. Jason Yapp
Domaine Maby: Lirac ‘La Fermade’ 2012.
Domaine de Père Caboche
Vin de Pays de Vaucluse: Le Petit Caboche 2012
"A blend of Grenache, Caladoc, Marselan and Syrah that is dangerously drinkable. Very sweetly aromatic perfumed nose leads to a pure palate of supple, sweet cherry fruit with real finesse and elegance, finishing spicy. An utter bargain." 91/100.
Jamie Goode - www.wineanorak.com
Vin de Pays de Vaucluse: Le Petit Caboche 2012.
Domaine Alain Graillot
Crozes Hermitage Blanc: Alain Graillot 2012
"This classic 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne blend is bottled under screwcap to preserve its ripe, white, stone fruit scents and youthful vigour. It has an appealing, pale, straw colour and mid-weight 'peaches and cream' palate supported by touches of glycerin that yield to a soft, elegant, dry finish. It's delicious on its own and will stand up well to fish or poultry. It is not particularly complex or ageworthy but it is a wine that is extremely hard not to like!" Jason Yapp
Crozes Hermitage Blanc: Alain Graillot 2012.
Domaine Georges Vernay
Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes ‘Le Pied de Samson’ 2012
"This relative bargain hails from the Vernays’ most elevated Viognier vine holdings and thus misses out on AOC Condrieu status. It is an object lesson in wine-making restraint from Georges’ daughter Christine, with the emphasis being on elegance and finesse rather than power and concentration. Alluring almond and acacia flower scents precede a palate of white peaches and pears offset by delicate mineral notes. It is intended for relatively forward drinking over the next 2-3 years." 17/20. Jason Yapp
Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes ‘Le Pied de Samson’ 2012.
Domaine Georges Vernay
Condrieu: Terrasses de l'Empire 2012
"This benchmark Condrieu is the Vernays’ principal bottling in volume terms. It has a bright bouquet of honeysuckle and tropical fruit and a ripe, rounded palate with appealing white peach, almond and tangerine notes and a sumptuous, taffeta-soft finish." 17.5/20. Jason Yapp
Condrieu: Terrasses de l'Empire 2012.
Equis: Maxime Graillot and Thomas Schmittel
Crozes Hermitage: Equinoxe 2012
"This bright, juicy, Spring-bottled Crozes-Hermitage is expressly made to be drunk on its exuberant, youthful fruit. With an appealing bouquet of crushed blackcurrants and a sleek, smooth palate of dark berries and cherries with hints of black pepper and the softest of tannins this is an unashamedly commercial Syrah that one could happily chill and drink with plate of cheese and charcuterie." Jason Yapp
Crozes Hermitage: Equinoxe 2012.
Domaine Georges Vernay
Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes ‘La Miribaudie’ 2012
Doyenne of Condrieu, Christine Vernay, is fast-gaining accolades as a red wine maker to add to her impressive CV. This precocious Vin de Pays is an excellent entry-point to her superb range of Syrah."Vibrant, fruity, youthful Syrah from Domaine Georges Vernay with a generous concentration of supple, brambly fruit, good cedar and sandalwood aromas, and a ripe, rounded, spicy mid-palate with diverse flavours of plums, cassis, and coffee over soft and smooth tannins." 16/20. Jason Yapp
Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes ‘La Miribaudie’ 2012.
En Primeur Rhône Wines For Delivery in 2014
Patrick has the advantage of owning 11 different parcels of vines running across the Côte Brune and Blonde escarpments which gives him an enviably broad palette of fruit to work with. His vines are planted in a field blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier that are traditionally vinified in vat, barrel and 300 litre demi-muids for a minimum of 18 months prior to blending and bottling.
"Always an elegant, readily-approachable, ‘Burgundian’- styled offering, barrel samples of Patrick Jasmin’s 2012 wine revealed all the components of a fabulous, fruit-driven vintage. There is a generous weight of dark, berry-fruit on the nose and palate supported by twists of black pepper, a fresh acidity, attractive licks of liquorice and some cooling granitic notes. It is a wine that will drink well for 12-18 months on its youthful fruit from release next Spring but will mature gracefully over 10-15 years. Bien Classique." 18/20.
Domaine Auguste Clape
This estate requires little introduction being widely regarded as setting the Gold Standard of the appellation. Auguste Clape’s son Pierre and grandson Olivier are on terrific form producing wines for which there is growing international demand but a lamentably finite supply. These strapping, traditionally-vinified, age-worthy wines show Northern Rhône Syrah in a very pure light. The Clapes are understandably upbeat about the terrific 2012 vintage and with volumes severely depleted in 2013 there has never been a better time to buy.
Vin de Table ‘Vin des Amis’ rouge
The Clape’s unofficial ‘house’ wine, from half a hectare of vines just below Cornas, rapidly sells out once released and is seldom traded on secondary markets as it is nearly all consumed by appreciative aficionados.
"The elegant 2012 vintage has a wealth of bright berry and cherry fruit and a lovely, fresh acidity. Already approachable it will yield a further 5-10 years of rewarding drinking." 16/20.
Côtes du Rhône rouge
This ‘junior Cornas’ in all but name is a tad fuller and firmer than the Clape family’s Vin de Table and merits cellaring for 3-5 years before being broached. It too represents terrific value for money and an accessible entry point to this world renowned estate.
"The 2012 Côtes du Rhône from Clape has a fine concentration of complex, black fruit flavours with undertones of pitch and pepper and lovely, ripe, fine-grained tannins. One could easily drink it off-the-bat but it will improve with bottle-age." 16.5/20.
This wine, which was first released in 1997, hails from the Clape’s younger vine holdings from between 12 and 30 years of age. Whilst it is indubitably more forward-drinking than the senior bottling it is still a complex and powerful Cornas that benefits from 5-10+ years cellaring.
"The Renaissance 2012 barrel samples revealed a profound purple hue, bags of dark, Autumnal fruit on the nose and palate, subtle, black pepper and spice notes, a fine acidity and an impressive tannic infrastructure which will sweeten and soften with bottle age. In a succession of superior vintages this is hot on the heels of the audacious 2010 and 2009." 18/20.
Blended from grapes grown in 6 different parcels that are vinified in vat and raised in 10-12 hectolitre tonneaux for up to 2 years prior to assemblage, bottling and release. It is a wine that is always carefully-crafted within the context of its vintage and is noted for its sense of terroir, depth, complexity and remarkable longevity.
"An impressive concentration of rich, blackberry and black cherry fruit masks rugged tannins and a fresh acidity that should give this wine a 25 year drinking window. It is not a tub-thumping blockbuster but a dense, dark, complex Cornas that should reveal its full potential after 5-7 years of cellaring. Top-notch Syrah from a gifted wine-making dynasty" 19/20.
Domaine Alain Graillot
Alain Graillot’s currency has risen dramatically from his debut vintage on Les Chassis plateau 28 years ago. His wine making philosophy is simple – ‘to produce wines that people can afford and want to drink’. With Alain now ably assisted by his sons Antoine and Maxime this consistently-reliable and competitively-priced estate is enjoying a Golden Age.
"With appealing raspberry and redcurrant aromas an impressive purple robe and plump palate of dark fruits, black olives, and youthful tannins offset by a fine acidity this is a beautifully rounded, classic Graillot Crozes’ of which the team are justifiably proud. It was a very tough year in the vineyard but a fine late Summer ripening period imbued the wines with ripe tannins and warm fruit. Delicious." 17/20.
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
Jean-Louis Chave is widely regarded as the standard bearer for the appellation of Hermitage and runs one of the most celebrated estates in the Northern Rhône. His wines’ long élévage means that they are released later than the majority of their peers. We will offer the 2011 Hermitage from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave in March 2014 on a strict allocation basis, with the 2012 vintage following in 2015. Both vintages were tasted in October 2013.
To register your interest in an allocation of 2011 Hermitage from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave (if you have not done so already), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hermitage blanc 2011
"The different parcels of l’Ermite, Les Rocoules, Maison Blanche and Peleat have produced a blend of approximately 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne. Chave is pleased with the 2011 Hermitage Blanc, and I was able to taste through all the component parts, which ranged in score from a low of 92-93 to a high in the mid to upper-90s. It exhibits beautiful notes of honeysuckle, citrus oil, licorice and white peach marmalade along with penetrating acidity, a liquid minerality and a full-bodied, substantial style. Slightly more precocious than the awesome 2010 Hermitage Blanc, the 2011 should drink well for 20-25 years or more." RP 93-95.
Robert Parker - The Wine Advocate
Hermitage rouge 2011
"‘The 2011 Hermitage stood out as one of the most brilliant, singular wines of the vintage. Every cuvée was special, going from the elegance, delicacy and finesse of Peleat and Les Beaumes to the extraordinary minerality, graphite, iodine and power of l’Ermite, to the blockbuster fruit and intensity of Le Meal and Les Bessards. Les Bessards provides the tremendous substance, backbone and intensity to this extraordinary wine, which looks to be another impressive wine from a vintage that rarely achieved this level of quality. Resembling the 1991 Hermitage, only better, it should evolve for 20-25 years." RP 95-98. Drink 2012 - 2037.
Robert Parker - The Wine Advocate
Southern Rhône and Beyond
Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge
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 are 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.
"The 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape is a classic effort from this estate that could come from nowhere else than the south of France. Garrigue, lavender, pepper, sweet kirsch and blackberry-styled fruits are just some of the notions here and this medium to full-bodied, supple and nicely concentrated 2012 will benefit from short-term cellaring once released. It should have 12-15 years or ultimate longevity." Drink 2016-2027.
"One of my favorite estates, these classic, textbook wines are made by talented Claire Michel, who has recently taken over the running of the estate from her parents."
91-94. Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate 209, October 2013
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.
With construction of a spankingly modern new winery finally completed the Dürrbach family appear to be ratcheting up the gears at their celebrated estate on the edge of Les Alpilles. The vintage run has been outstanding and our recent barrel tasting of the 2012 vintage revealed a wine of more power and concentration and ageing potential than the forward and fruity 2011 vintage.
"The 2012 Trévallon is clearly going to be a structured and age-worthy wine that should come into its own with 5-10+ years bottle age. The Cabernet Sauvignon has a lovely core of cassis fruit, spicy undertones and good tannic raw material. The Syrah has an elegant acidity lots of dark, plum and damson fruit and a clean, fresh finish. The ‘approximate’ assemblage from a barrel blend was impressive – it’s going to be a keeper." 18/20.