Posts with the label "en primeur"

Rhone 2017 - A tale of the unexpected

Rhone 2017 - A tale of the unexpected

Thursday 25th October 2018
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

During a week of bounding up and down the Rhone valley I have tasted some truly delicious wines. My focus has been on 2017s from barrel but I have also been tasting 2016s and 2015s from bottle. 

Before I launch into the many surprises 2017 sprung on me, a word on 2015 Chateauneufs. These are in a very good place right now and it is clearly a superbly-balanced vintage, they may well go into the shut-down phase that most Chateauneufs do but right now they are a joy and what’s more they show the harmony to suggest excellent ageing potential, it can genuinely be considered a great year in the South. People may remember France being bathed  in sunshine throughout 2015 but in the Southern Rhône it was not too much of a heat-wave vintage, there was a little more rain and ensuing cooler temperatures than further north.  The results were wines of great allure, roundness and charm. For sure richer than a “cool” style vintage but less alcoholic than other hallowed years like 2016 and 2007, for example. If you missed these at the time, then don’t hesitate to snap up 2015 Southern Rhônes. 

Vintage Report: Burgundy 2013,

Vintage Report: Burgundy 2013, "Hang time"

Thursday 11th December 2014
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

“Hang time" is the catchphrase that kept coming up in my tastings with more than 50 producers up and down the Côte d'Or earlier this month. It has become clear over the last decade or so that it is this and well-controlled yields that are two of the vital factors for making great Red Burgundy, certainly more so than hot and sunny weather.

Etienne Grivot sums it up better than anyone: “A difficult but incredible year.”

It was not an easy growing season: The weather was poor during flowering which greatly affected yields, summer was difficult and although end of season weather improved and aided ripening the very late harvest was interrupted by a storm in early October. In fact it was one of the latest harvests ever, certainly for Frederic Mugnier - the last time grapes were picked that late was 1984, the same goes for Marquis d’Angerville. However, despite all of this, the reds at top addresses have turned out brilliantly, something that could not have happened without the tiny crop the vines were carrying and the enormous amount of selection work that the top domaines undertook at harvest time. Acidities, though high, tend not to stick out anything like as much as other high-acid vintages such as 2008 and 1993, in fact they blend beautifully into the wines, adding nothing more than an appetising verve. The fruit, though it took a while, reached full maturity. Unusually in this day and age of global warming, grape skins and pips ripened at low alcohol levels, between 11.5 to 12.5%. But perhaps the most intriguing feature of this red vintage of all are the wonderfully suave tannic structures, a result of the long hang time on the vine (120 days instead of the usual 100 from flowering to ripening.) 
Vintage Report: Domaine Weinbach’s 2013

Vintage Report: Domaine Weinbach’s 2013

Wednesday 10th December 2014
by Julian Campbell

It was with great sadness that we visited Domaine Weinbach this year as there would be a noticeable absence from the vintage presentation after Laurence Faller’s tragically early death in May 2014.  

Laurence had been admired by all who came to know her, and her talent for winemaking was well documented. She had a prodigious talent and was recognised by wine drinkers around the world, as well as her peers, as one of Alsace’s brightest lights. Her immediate family included her two children and her sister Catherine and mother Colette, the latter two both remaining at the estate, Catherine remaining very much hands on. Catherine’s son Theo will continue to look after the vineyards, as he has done for a number of years, while the current cellar master will continue the work he’s done for over ten years. They have suffered a very sad loss this year, but Laurence leaves the estate in good shape and excellent hands.

The climatic conditions of 2013 were challenging. The weather in May was particularly cold and miserable, delaying flowering, and giving rise to ‘coulure’ across the whole spectrum of varieties. From the off the harvest looked set to be late, and low yielding. July and August here were warm and hot, punctuated by useful bouts of rainfall, the vines managing to regain a little lost time in these two months, so long as vegetative growth was kept in check. By the time September arrived the vineyards were in good condition and as a result of some fine even September weather, and cool nights, the grapes approached ripeness with excellent acidities intact and vibrant fruit profiles. 
Vintage Report: Germany's 2013 Rieslings -

Vintage Report: Germany's 2013 Rieslings - "Top quality, tiny quantity..."

Monday 19th May 2014
by Julian Campbell

It is very hard to travel out to a region with the intention of tasting the latest vintage without having heard or read somebody’s views on it. 

These days there seem to be no end of people desperate to evaluate a vintage as early as possible. Everyone wants the first scoop, regardless of whether the wines are in a state that allows fair evaluation. During this most recent trip I even heard of notes being published from cloudy, still fermenting tank samples. Now I may be wrong, but it seems to me that unless you are a highly practiced winemaker, this is surely simple conjecture? Be that as it may, many had put forth their views and as a result my mood as I prepared for my trip was somewhat pessimistic. To put it bluntly I feared painful teeth and tart, rather aggressively acidic wines. 

But let it be known here, straight away: my fear was unfounded – there are some very good wines in this vintage. Indeed there are some that rank in the realms of truly excellent.  Make no mistake, no-one is suggesting that this was an easy vintage. In fact, as late as the start of October many growers feared a truly disastrous vintage.