The Rhône is a region that just keeps delivering great value, high quality wines. The 2018 vintage is no exception - the wines are excellent, a beautiful balance of soft ripe fruit but with a juicy, mouth-watering quality that makes them oh so easy to drink and will enable the better wines to age gracefully. For the second year in a row the North has pipped the South in terms of absolute quality; with disease pressures almost absent this year Syrah and Viognier have excelled. André Perret said it was the best year he had ever known, “Très, Très, Bon”, and he started in 1983! The resultant wines have great concentration and beautifully ripe tannins as well as a succulence that made them a pleasure to taste from barrel and will stand them in good stead throughout their lives. In the south the missing Grenache has been replaced by higher proportions of Mourvèdre and Counoise both of which ripened well in the warm summer, giving an aromatic quality to the wines while the low yields this year endow the wines with good depth and concentration. The whites of the North and South are rich, concentrated and beautifully balanced.
The winter of 2017/18 was wet, this meant the water reserves in the soil were topped up ready to be drawn upon by the vines in the summer months. A mild spring followed. The end of flowering was touched by rainfall but at this stage it looked like an abundant year. The mild spring turned in to a wet and warm early summer with rain in May and June. Usually when they have rain at this time the Mistral comes to the rescue, a strong north-westerly wind that dries off the vines and cools the temperature, but this year it didn’t. Instead it was replaced by the Mistral Noir which blew warm moist air up from the Azores. An attack of mildew struck the southern Rhône in particular, requiring a lot of work in the vineyard to counteract its affects. Despite their best efforts growers lost between 30 and 70% of their crop in some regions. Grenache, a thin skinned variety, was particularly affected. The remainder of the season was warm and dry ensuring the remaining grapes achieved excellent ripeness. Harvest started early in September in warmer than usual conditions which stayed the course meaning plots could be picked at optimum ripeness. Overall, giving another great year that has produced very drinkable wines.