Rhône 2015 En Primeur

Rhône 2015 En Primeur: Rhône Rises

After some challenging vintages Rhone’s vignerons have got big smiles on their faces again. For the fruits of the magnificent 2015 growing season certainly look to be the real deal. In September the buying team yo-yoed between Marseille and Lyon visiting 24 producers in total and quenching our palates on some of the most brilliant young Rhone wines we had tasted in years.

Not only are there some strikingly great wines in 2015, North and South of Montelimar, but there is consistency across the board. If you made bad 2015s its time to hang up your shears! What’s so special? The season was late, after a wet winter and spring, but from June to mid-August there was not a drop of water. Some rain around the 15th August and in early September meant that vines did not suffer and ripening continued seamlessly. An Indian summer allowed growers to harvest at will, which meant mid-September in Hermitage, a week later in Cote Rotie and the beginning of October for the last Grenaches and Mourvedres of the Southern Rhone.
We and almost every grower we spoke to were so startled by the freshness of the wines and, curiously, this seemed to become more pronounced the further south we were. As Barroche’s Julian Barrot put it “ this is no Solaire vintage” i.e the sunny, hot weather has not dampened the native characteristics of vineyards and wines.

Deep, full-bodied but fresh, the wines have ripe, well-defined and harmonious structures. Tannins are clearly present but reassuring rather than aggressive. These wines have a real sense of life and presence which, allied to impressive complexity, make for some legendary wines.

Wherever we went growers waxed more lyrically than ever before. Rene Rostaing calls this an “immense vintage that has everything,” Jean-Paul Versino explained to us that the growing season was fine from start to finish and that there was never a moment of stress, while Jean-Michel Vache of Clos des Cazaux labels it a “one in thirty year vintage,” Daniel Brunier of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe considers 2015 to be a superior version of the 1985, and Clos des Papes’ Vincent Avril puts into the same vein as previous greats 2012 and 2010.

2015 is a great and just the vintage to remind us all of the excellent quality and diversity of the Rhone valley’s wonderful wines.

Giles Burke-Gaffney
Justerini & Brooks’ Buying Director