2021 Rhône En Primeur

Charming, accessible and balanced wines with a classical profile.

Following a run of blockbuster vintages that began 2015, 2021 sees a return to a more classical style of wines that are full of early-drinking charm and bright fruit. The best sites have produced excellent wines and despite challenging growing conditions in the vineyard, winemakers have produced delightful wines from across all appellations.


Rhone EP

2021 Top En Primeur Recommendations

Lirac Blanc, Vin de Madame la Comtesse, Château de Montfaucon – £130 per 6 bottles in bond
Cotes du Rhône La Part des Vivants, Domaine Garon – £90 per case of 12 bottles in bond
Châteauneuf du Pape, Domaine du Grand Tinel – £120 per 6 bottles in bond
Saint Joseph Rouge Babylone, Domaine Julien Cecillon – £135 per 6 bottles in bond


The Rhône Valley is vast, both in terms of landscape and in variations of terroir. The distance between Condrieu in the north and Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the south is nearly 200km, with a vine-free gap in the middle of about 50km. Despite the wider Rhône valley being considered as one winemaking region, the wines of the north and south can differ quite significantly and there is generally a greater stylistic variation than is found between the left and right banks of Bordeaux, for example. In the north, the focus is on Syrah as king of the reds, while Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne all play their unique roles in the likes of Condrieu, Hermitage and St Peray. In the south, Grenache and Mourvèdre play bigger roles alongside Syrah and Cinsault in red blends, while Roussanne and Marsanne make regular appearances in beautifully fragrant yet fresh whites.

The Rhône occupies a slightly curious position in the world of fine wine: well-established, with some of the world’s most famous appellations and producers, yet sometimes overlooked. Whatever the reason for this, some of the greatest wines of France and the world are produced here, with the feeling in the wine trade that the Rhône is very much on the up and is becoming an increasingly key component of many a collector’s cellar.

In a market update report published last month (‘The Rhône continues to offer value despite rising prices’, 19/10/22), the wine trade’s benchmark index and trading platform Liv-Ex noted both the comparative value and improving performance of the best wines of the region on the secondary market:

“The Rhône continues to provide the lowest entry point into the fine wine market across the leading European region despite rising prices. The Rhône 100 index has risen 16.3% in the last year. However, based on the component wines that make up this index, its average case price is 95.6% lower than the wines in the Burgundy 150 and 62.8% lower than the Bordeaux 500.”


  • Difficult growing season, with many vineyards hit by April frosts, which ultimately resulted in lower yields
  • Cooler, wetter earlier summer than recent years meant lots of work in the vineyard to keep vines healthy
  • A turn in the weather later in the summer allowed grapes to ripen fully, with the winemakers we tasted with generally very happy that their hard work has paid off with good wines
  • More modest alcohol levels than has been the trend across recent years
  • In the north, the whites are excellent and the best reds are truly reflective of their The temptation to make comparisons to Burgundy’s single-varietal expressions of variations in soils and micro-climates is stronger than ever in 2021!
  • Gorgeous, approachable wines in the south, in an open-knit and generous style



The reduced yields have meant that some wines we offered previously haven’t been made, but we are pleased to have added a Cotes du Rhone from one of the best villages in the appellation – Côtes du Rhone Brézème from Château de la Rolière alongside an exciting new white Chateauneuf du Pape in the form of Domaine du Grand Tinel’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Les Rousannees de Charles.

We flag Domaine Garon’s La Part des Vivants every year and with good reason – it offers an incredible amount of wine at £7.50 per bottle in bond. Côte-Rôtie has once again produced excellent wines, in an accessible style. The dynamic Julien Cecillon was impressive in 2021 – we were amazed at how good the wines were again, with Crozes Hermitage Les Marguerites showing many of the qualities one would expect from Hermitage itself.

In the south, the wines show a glorious expression of fruit. Tasting component parts at Domaine du Cayron was instructive in understanding the complexity of the final blend in their textbook Gigondas, whilst Domaine du Grand Tinel’s Châteauneuf du Pape Alexis Establet is a standout. Followers of Chateau de Beaucastel shouldn’t miss the flagship Châteauneuf du Pape, it’s another knockout wine from one of the great names of the Rhône.


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