I am surprised at the chutzpah of some UK merchants trying to 'talk up' the 2008 Rhône as a 'superior' vintage that merits buying en primeur. The cold facts are that the 2007s (many of which are still available) are better across the board and the keenly anticipated 2009s should (on the basis of our early tastings) also be far superior.
If one takes a look at the prognostications of leading pundits they seem to concur with our sentiments:
Jancis Robinson 'Rhône 2008 - The Overview' jancisrobinson.com November 2009
'You must come back and taste the 2009s', was the common refrain when I visited the Rhône Valley last month. I was there to taste the 2008s, which was a strange exercise as, the more I tasted them, the more I realised that most sensible wine buyers will want to stock up on the exceptional 2007s while they wait for the eagerly anticipated 2009s. Overall the general characteristic of the 2008s in both northern and southern Rhône is that they are decidedly muted - especially after the super-concentrated 2007s.'
John Livingstone-Learmonth Decanter Magazine 'Rhône 2008: Buy With Care' April 2010
'The 2008 vintage in the Rhône came as a jolt to many growers...It was a marked departure from the free-wheeling seasons that nature delivered for most of the 2000's. There are no blanket rules for buyers except caveat emptor: try the wine before buying it.'
Robert Parker The Wine Advocate eRobertParker.com
'The 2008 southern Rhône vintage is reminiscent of 1999. While challenging in many cases, the good estates and serious vignerons who performed a heavy triage because of mildew in late summer, have produced good to very good wines. As in every challenging vintage, there are some outstanding efforts. To reiterate, the good news is that 2009 is looking like a potentially superb vintage. Even if you miss out on the 2007 vintage, 2009 may come close to rivaling that stupendous year, but the quality cannot be ascertained until the wines have finished their malolactic fermentation in late spring, 2010.'
I can see very little incentive in laying out cash for buying these wines in advance although many of the top growers have produced wines of great delineation and charm. The 2008s will not have the aging or the investment potential of the 2007s and 2009s - so why fork out for them before they are bottled? Or to put it another way. Why make such song and dance about a journeyman vintage?