2020 RHÔNE REPORT & EN PRIMEUR OFFER
Our 2020 en primeur offer closed on 16th January 2022. If you have any questions about the campaign, your order, or if you wish to be advised of the 2021 en primeur offer next Autumn, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the wines are annotated either with independent testimonials (and listed as such) or with team Yapp personal tasting notes and scores – Jason Yapp (JY), Tom Ashworth (TA) and Simon Stuart (SS).
"2020 is another hot, dry vintage in the Rhône, but it's very different in character to the past few years. It's not powerful like 2019 or 2017, it's a lighter style, one with great freshness and balance, which can be felt both in the Northern and Southern Rhône, in both whites and reds. It will bring a lot of drinking pleasure to those waiting for more structured vintages to come round."
Matt Walls on Rhône 2020
It was great to return to the cellars of our friends in the Rhône valley this October. Winemakers were still hard at it after the 2021 vintage had arrived in late September / early October - a return to a more 'traditional' harvest date after the recent hot, precocious years (2019, 2017, 2015).
During our first visit, Jean-Louis Chave provided us with an excellent precis of the 2020 vintage, the last of a great run of six stellar vintages (2015-2020): "Un grand millésime classique." This was an opinion echoed during all of our visits. Despite high temperatures and early picking dates there was a beautiful counterbalance of acidity that produced wines of elegance and freshness after the more muscular 2019s. "In August the vines shut down, preserving acidity, where as in 2019 they did not" continued Jean-Louis Chave. Olivier Clape in Cornas pointed to cool evenings providing a welcome boost to acidity. Côte-Rôtie's Patrick Jasmin was less specific, but equally full of praise, referring to 2020 as the last of "six beautiful vintages in quantity and quality." It was not just in the Northern Rhône either: Claire and François Michel at Le Vieux Donjon in Châteauneuf-du-Pape were extremely pleased with their elegant, balanced 2020 - the result of a "smooth summer with good rainfall with helpful diurnal temperature differences."
The ubiquitous success of 2020 across the region is in contrast to a more challenging and patchy 2021, so this marks the end of an unprecedented vintage run for the Rhône. Following an enthusiastic response to last year's 2019 release (which sold out) and growing global demand for the top wines - fine wine's benchmark index, the Liv-ex 100, closed at an all-time high in October 2021 with a larger proportion of Rhône wines traded on it than ever before – we would encourage you to act early to secure your desired bottles.
Jason & Tom
"Let's start with the conclusion. The reasoning can wait. 2020 is a very good vintage in the Northern Rhône. It is seductive, full of silken pleasure, offers wines that will grace any table, wines set to show well from an early age. As such, it is quite the opposite of the brooding, tucked up, muscular 2019s."
John Livingstone-Learmonth - drinkrhone.com
4th generation winemaker, Patrick Jasmin, has the advantage of owning 12 different parcels of vines running across 8 lieu-dits on 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 hand-harvested and undergo a very traditional fermentation and 3-week cuvaison in cement vats (since 1996 the grapes have been de-stemmed which has improved colour). The parcels are vinified separately prior to blending at the end of December and then aged for up to 2 years in 228-litre and 590-litre oak barrels (with up to 25% being new, originating from France, Russia & the USA). There is no fining and only a light filtration. Approximately 2,000 cases are produced in a typical vintage.
The name 'La Giroflarie' appeared on the label in 2016, to distinguish this principal cuvée from a special cuvée called 'Olea' that Patrick first made in 2015. 'La Giroflarie' is an historic name for the Côte Baudin lieu-dit.
Côte-Rôtie 'Giroflarie' 2020 @ £324 per case (of 12 bottles) IB
Côte-Rôtie 'Giroflarie' 2020 @ £336 per case (of 6 magnums) IB
"Harvest started on 16th September and was finished within ten days. Expressive hedgerow bouquet married to a beautifully balanced palate, showing supple texture with finely grained tannins. Patrick's lightness of touch is on display here and there is all the surprising freshness of the vintage serving as a great counterpoint to a dense fruit core. I'd expect this to show well early and steadily keep improving in bottle. 18.5/20." (SS).
Romain & Max Champet run this family estate of 4.5 hectares of vines that lie in a single block in the 'Viallière' lieu-dit, just to the north of Ampuis. Situated exclusively on the clay-based Côte Brune this is a traditional estate producing single-vineyard wine of great typicality.
Côte-Rôtie 2020 @ £300 per case (of 12 bottles) IB
"Opaque, deep purple robe with a pronounced 'dark berry' bouquet with pitchy undertones and hints of violet and vanillin, very fresh, racy red and black fruit on the palate with a lovely acidity, peppery notes and fine-grained tannins. Very well balanced and integrated. Already approachable this should age well for 5-10 years or more. 17.5/20." (JY).
Domaine Alain Graillot
Established in 1985, the Graillots' Crozes-Hermitage vineyards now comprise 17 hectares of Syrah vines and 3 of Marsanne and Roussanne, which surround their cellars at Les Chênes Verts (a former pig farm) on the Chassis plateau between Tain l'Hermitage and Pont l'Isère. The estate is now ably run by Alain's sons, Max and Antoine, and their red Crozes' is regarded as the archetype of the AOC. Grapes are vinified with their stems for three weeks in stainless steel vats, preceded by a cold maceration without sulphur. The wine is then racked off its lees with up to 50% being aged in small young Burgundy casks before being blended and bottled after 18 months (the sons are bottling a little later than Alain did).
Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2020 @ £216 per case (of 12 bottles) IB - SOLD OUT
Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2020 @ £234 per case (of 6 magnums) IB
"Sleek black fruit with bramble undertones. This is simultaneously elegant and muscular in character. There is a striking intensity of fruit with mineral core and lively acidity. Absolutely delicious from barrel and we'd expect it to have a long future ahead. 18/20" (SS).
Despite their growing fame, you could not meet a more humble family than the Clapes, who farm 5.38 hectares of vines at Cornas, with further parcels classed as Côtes du Rhône and Saint-Péray. Although there have been Clapes at Cornas for at least 250 years, Auguste (1925-2018) was a first generation vigneron, having acquired his vines through marriage to his wife Henriette. His first vintage was in 1949 and he was the first independent vigneron in Cornas to begin domaine-bottling his own wines in the early 1950s. Auguste was joined by his (then 40 year-old) son Pierre in 1989 and grandson Olivier in 2002.
When we visited, Olivier was delighted to show off the domaine's new winery across the D86 main road in Cornas (which splits the village in two). This has given the family some much needed additional storage space and was home to some impressive looking new fermentation tanks. They are clearly not resting on their laurels!
The Clape wines are predominantly sold on allocation, but if you are new to them, please contact us and we will endeavour to find you some.
Vin des Amis 2020 @ £111 per case (of 6 bottles) IB
"From Syrah vines grown between the village and the river and bottled as a 'Vin de France', the 'Vin des Amis' serves as the family's 'house wine' and as such is made in an early drinking style, aged for only one year in stainless steel and concrete. That said, it is unmistakably a Clape wine, brimming with game, spice and mineral flavours on both nose and palate. The balance is superb and it will drink beautifully from bottling. 16.5/20." (SS).
Côtes-du-Rhône 2020 @ £132 per case (of 6 bottles) IB
"Grown on trellis-trained vines on round-pebble soils just outside the village of Saint Péray, the Côtes du Rhône is fantastic value for money. With a structure capable of supporting a decade of ageing, there is supple fruit and the trademark minerality of the domaine to provide ample enjoyment for the impatient. Currently, tasting a bit tighter than the 'Vin des Amis', I would leave for a couple of years before opening. 17/20." (SS).
Cornas 'Renaissance' 2020 @ £255 per case (of 6 bottles) IB - SOLD OUT
"From 'younger' (20-50 years old) vines grown in the climats of Geynale, Théziers, Mazardes, Patou and Pied la Vigne which are whole-bunch fermented, vinified separately and blended and bottled 18 months after the harvest. This is a fresh, elegant vintage with good grip that will drink from 2028 onwards. 18/20." (TA).
Cornas 2020 @ £390 per case (of 6 bottles) IB - SOLD OUT
"The Clape's headline red from old vine parcels across Reynard, Sabarotte and La Côte lieu-dits that were harvested a full month earlier in 2020 than 2021. The 2020 is concentrated yet balanced, combining gourmand power with freshness. Olivier likened it to their terrific 2012. Volumes were around 20% down on an average year. 18.5/20." (TA).
HERMITAGE & SAINT-JOSEPH
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
The Chave wines' long élévage means that they are released later than the majority of their peers. We will release the 2019 Hermitage and Saint Joseph from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave in March 2022 on an allocation basis. Again, if you are interested in the wines, please contact us.
Hermitage Blanc 2019
"A tasting of barrel samples of different lieux-dits: Les Rocoules, Péléat and Ermite paint a picture of an exceptionally rich and opulent white Hermitage, with great textural generosity and fat, relatively low acidity and fairly high alcohol. The main problem was the speed with which the grapes were taking on sugar at the end of the season, so all the whites were picked in just two days (normally it takes five days), including a Sunday - only the second time they have done this, the previous time due to rot. An atypically large-framed vintage, that will provide plenty of succulent, rich pleasure over the years. 96/100."
Matt Walls - Decanter.com
Hermitage Rouge 2019
"A tasting of barrel samples of different lieux-dits: Péléat, Beaumes, Ermite, Le Méal, Bessards. Long, slow fermentations due to the high potential alcohols this year, some barrels reaching over 15% - at the limit of what the indigenous yeasts can handle. Even the Bessards component, which is usually so strict and skeletal, is full of fruit this year. The last exceptionally hot year was 2003, which produced a wine that was highly atypical, with notably jammy fruit. That's not the case in 2019 - the fruit is fresh and lively. It's hard to make a judgement at this stage; the alcohol is high, and may always feel warming. Either way, it will provide great pleasure and impact, despite its extreme style. 97/100."
Matt Walls - Decanter.com
"Tasted in components, as usual. It's still early days for this wine, but the ingredients are seriously formidable, with an emphasis on richness but no lack of energy either. This is shaping up to be a stunner. 96-98/100."
Josh Reynolds - vinous.com
Saint Joseph Rouge 2019
"A tasting of barrels samples of various lieux-dits: Les Dardouille, Le Clos, Les Challaix, Bachasson (both higher and lower sites). The overall impression is a rich, full vintage, but by no means excessive, jammy or baked. Each site expresses its particular character with aplomb, and there is plenty of high-toned precision to the aromas, ranging from the floral and spicy to the deeply fruited. The alcohol is marginally higher than in a typical year, but not unbalanced. J.L. Chave's Saint-Joseph is lively, vibrant and rich, fresher than most 2019s. 94/100."
Matt Walls - Decanter.com
"The ultimate rendition of this wine should be rich yet energetic, with pronounced floral character; it's shaping up to be quite a formidable wine and it should be (compared to many an Hermitage) a solid value if you can find it. 93-95/100."
Josh Reynolds - vinous.com
Southern Rhône and Provence
"While 2020 doesn't appear to have created many truly extraordinary wines, what it does deliver is a sea of beautiful, balanced, charming wines that have so much to love. These types of vintages should never be overlooked, and I can't tell you how much pleasure I've gotten from vintages such as 2000, 2004, 2006, 2011, and 2012, which rarely garner the praise of the press, yet shine on the dinner table and are joys to drink."
Jeb Dunnuck on Southern Rhône 2020.
"The 2020s appear to be pure, elegant, medium to full-bodied wines that excel on their balance and freshness while still showing beautiful depth of fruit."
Jeb Dunnuck - Southern Rhône's 2019s and 2020s.
Le Vieux Donjon
The estate, now very capably managed by brother and sister François and Claire, comprises 18 hectares of vines (one-third of which are over 100 years old) across six different lieux-dits. They make just one white wine and one red. The red is picked from 17 hectares of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre & Cinsault that are vinified together in concrete and partly aged in concrete (20%) and partly in old oak foudres (80%).
Cháteauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2020 @ £318 per case (of 12 bottles) IB
Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2020 @ £336 per case (of 6 magnums) IB
"Another superb effort from Claire and François Michel. Grape picking started on 25th August and finished on 16th September, the first time in her life that the harvest hasn't clashed with Claire's birthday on the 17th! The heat of the vintage (which was offset by good rainfall) manifested itself only in a delicious suppleness of fruit, otherwise the elegance was the wine's most notable feature. Leafy, gentle and very pretty this is another chapter in a long line of superb efforts from a domaine on the rise. 18/20." (SS).
"From an estate that seems to have hit another level over the past 5-7 years or so, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape reveals a deeper plum/purple color as well as charming, complex aromas and flavors of ripe blackberries, mulberries, peppery garrigue, flowers, and orange blossom. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it shows the more charming, mid-weight style of the vintage, has silky tannins, wonderful overall balance, and outstanding length. It's not going to match the top vintages from this estate, but it's going to put a smile on your face any time over the coming 15 years or so. 92-94/100."
Jeb Dunnuck - jebdunnuck.com
IGP LES ALPILLES
Domaine de Trévallon
Bottled as a simple 'Indication Géographique Protégée', this iconic 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 chemical intervention 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.
Visionary founder Eloi Dürrbach's sudden death in early November 2021 was very sad news that rocked the world of wine. His legacy is continued by daughter Ostiane and son Antoine who have worked alongside Eloi for a number of years.
Domaine de Trévallon rouge 2020 @ £270 per case (of 6 bottles) IB
"Our final visit of the tasting trip and Ostiane Dürrbach was super-relaxed after a good 2021 vintage in terms of quality and quantity – that's the Provençal climate for you! In fact, she reported good volumes of Trévallon in every vintage since 2018. As usual, we tasted the 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon (polished cassis fruit) and Syrah (black fruit with ripe, rounded tannins) parcels separately. They will be blended in December 2022 prior to bottling and the indications are that this will be another successful vintage at this rock solid domaine. 18.5/20." (TA).
Trévallon 2020 has been fully allocated.
How en primeur works
Rhône 2020 wines en primeur
En primeur wines are offered for purchase now, with delivery in late 2022 and early 2023.
These Rhône 2020 en primeur wines are offered per case (of either 6 or 12) and 'in bond' ('IB'), exclusive of duty and VAT.
To buy these wines you need to telephone Yapp Brothers. Payment should be made by debit or credit card at the time of order. We will confirm your order with an invoice and discuss your delivery and storage options.
The en primeur offer closes on Sunday 10th January 2022, but we would advise you to contact us now to secure your preferences.
Terms & Conditions for en primeur purchases
1. A contract will come into existence between Yapp Brothers Ltd ('Yapp') and the Buyer when an invoice is raised and payment is taken by Yapp. Payment will be due immediately when an invoice is raised.
2. Yapp's 'no quibble' consumer guarantee applies to en primeur sales in the sense that the Buyer has the right to change their mind within fourteen days of the creation of this contract.
3. Title to wines shall remain with Yapp until all en primeur invoices due from the Buyer are cleared in full. Where any invoice is outstanding for more than 30 days, Yapp reserves the right to cancel the contract. In the event of accidental shortages, the Buyer will be refunded in full at invoice price.
4. When the wine is shipped to the UK we will confirm delivery or storage and raise any relevant invoices for VAT, duty, storage and delivery charges.
5. Yapp reserves the right to withhold any wines that the Buyer has ordered for non-payment of any invoice.
6. Risk of loss or damage to Goods shall pass to the Buyer when the Goods are physically delivered to or collected by the Buyer (or their agent).
7. If the Buyer is making their own arrangements for the storage, delivery or collection of the wine (as opposed to keeping it at Yapp), the Buyer agrees to notify Yapp of any defects in the wines within 30 days of the wine being released and after this period the Buyer will be deemed to have accepted the wines.
Storage & Delivery options when the wine arrives
When the physical wine arrives IB in the UK we will contact you to advise you of any additional payments that are due in respect of duty and VAT (if you are withdrawing the wine from bond), storage or delivery charges, including IB transfer charges.
Your options are as follows:
Wine remaining Under Bond
1. If you have your own bonded arrangements at London City Bond ('LCB') you can advise us of the account details for an IB transfer. No further charge.
2. You can store your wine IB with Yapp Brothers. It will be held in the Yapp Brothers' Client Account at LCB. No further charge. You will, however, be charged storage, currently £12.50 per case, per annum, inc VAT.
3. We can arrange for LCB to deliver your wine IB to another bonded warehouse. Such IB transfers are charged at £15 per case up to 2 cases, £5 per case thereafter and must be paid before the transfer request is actioned. You will also need to advise us of account and warehouse details for the transfer.
Delivering & Storing Wine Duty Paid
4. If you would like us to organise delivery of your wine Duty Paid, we will do so under our normal delivery terms. In most cases this will mean no delivery charge.
5. You can store your wine at Yapp Brothers' premises Duty Paid, currently £12.50 per case per annum, including VAT.
6. When wine that has been held IB is withdrawn from a bonded warehouse, you will be charged duty and VAT at the prevailing rates on the original cost of the wine. The current duty rate is £26.78 per case and the VAT rate is 20%. Therefore, the current duty and VAT on a £200 case of wine withdrawn from bond would be £72.13. (n.b. you pay VAT on the cost of the wine including duty)