Rhône wines continue to offer outstanding value across the board.
OK, we declare our partiality at the outset of this piece. We are Rhône lovers, Rhône merchants and, for the umpteenth time, IWC Rhône Merchant of the Year. But allow us, at least, to make our case.
Northern Rhône wines (which count for just 10% of the whole region's production) are made on a very small scale. The top single vineyard wines from Guigal in Côte Rôtie and Chapoutier in Hermitage will produce 750 to 1,000 cases per year, Chave's multiple-site Hermitage roughly double that. This production model is much closer to Burgundy than Bordeaux where even the classed growths make tens of thousands of cases.
In Burgundy the production of Leflaive's Chevalier-Montrachet, Armand Rousseau's Chambertin Clos de Bèze or DRC's Romanee-Conti amounts to around 400 cases of each per year – release prices of those wines are circa £300, £1,000 and £5,000 per bottle, respectively (with obvious vintage variation). Back in the Rhône, the Guigal La-Las, Chapoutier l'Ermite & Le Pavillon, as well as Chave's white and red sell for around £150 to £250 per bottle.
If you are someone who follows critic scores, you can rest assured that all the above wines score in the 96-100 range annually. The comparison with Bordeaux is even more revealing. The last 5 vintages of Cornas Clape (sold on release at £50 per bottle) that were scored by www.erobertparker.com (2009-2013) averaged 96.8/100. This score is only matched by Haut Brion of the Médoc first growths, exceeding the other four as well as fabled Right Bank châteaux Cheval Blanc and Petrus. The production of Chave's red Hermitage (c. 2,000 cases) is similar to that of Petrus, yet sells for about one-tenth of the price.
We haven't forgotten the New World - Henschke Hill of Grace and Screaming Eagle make 1,000 cases each annually, selling at £400 and £1,500 per bottle, respectively.
With only two poor vintages (2002 and 2008) in over two decades (see our handy Rhône vintage chart infographic below ), the Rhône valley continues to provide stellar wines at terrestrial prices.
Did we persuade you?