Rhône 2016 En Primeur

“As to whether 2016 will become known as one of the greatest vintages of all time, the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind: making such predictions at this early stage is the stuff of madness. But there’s no doubt that the best examples have a glorious future ahead of them”. Richard Hemming MW, Jancis Robinson.com November 2017

Our Rhône 2016 En Primeur offer can be found here and you can find the wines for purchase online here. After the success of the 2015 vintage, there has been an overdue upsurge of interest in classic Rhône wines.  We think they are outstanding value.  In the nineteenth century, Hermitage commanded the same price as Lafite or Romanee Conti, but today rarely reaches a twentieth the value of those illustrious names.  Driving south from Lyon, signposts for the most famous appellations flash by (Côte Rotie, Condrieu, St Joseph…) illustrating just how small these appellations are.  At just 276 hectares, Côte Rotie is dwarfed by the larger Bordeaux estates (Lafite alone has 100 hectares!).  Hermitage is even smaller, with just 136 hectares, sub-divided into small plots.  Given this rarity, it’s great fortune for us that the wines do not (yet!) have the same worldwide following as Bordeaux and Burgundy.

In the South, even greater bargains to be had.  The quest for ever cheaper ‘neuf-du-Pape in UK supermarkets has overshadowed the tremendous power and complexity found in the best wines, both here and in the neighbouring villages.

“Some of the smartest buys are in Vacqueyras and (especially) Gigondas, where there are far fewer poseur cuvées, and where fruit succulence can often equal that of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.” Richard Hemming MW, Jancis Robinson.com

The weather in 2016

Northern Rhône – the year began poorly with a wet and cloudy spring and hail in Hermitage in April, reducing yields dramatically.  In July the weather turned hot and dry, stressing the vines and delaying ripening until early September when rainfall arrived in the nick of time.  Happily, the good weather held until early October, making for a late harvest date but critically allowing some vital extra time for ripening.

Southern Rhône – conditions here were almost perfect.  Spring was drier than in the North and summer arrived early.  In August, hot days alternated with cool nights and just sufficient rainfall to keep the vines hydrated.  The result is exceptional colour and tannins in the Syrah in particular.