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Rhone 2016 En Primeur

We believe 2016 to be an extremely good vintage in the northern Rhône and, some are saying that it is possibly, the greatest vintage in the 30-40 years in the southern Rhône. Personally having tasted c150 wines this month, that it's very, very good but 2010 is in my opinion just, and only just the better vintage. It will be interesting to track these wines, which are undeniably incredibly vibrant and perfumed. One thing is for sure, it's an outstanding and hugely attractive vintage.

The northern Rhône experienced a cloudy, wet spring and flowering was retarded by 2-3 weeks. By the end of July, the weather turned hot and very dry, which continued until some much-needed rains fell during the first week of September. A lovely Indian summer then lasted well into October and producers were able to pick, at leisure, in ideal conditions.

According to Yves Cuilleron, “2016 is a great vintage, with good balancing acidity, alcohol and aromas. It is not fat and will age well. 2016 is like 2010. There was late and gentle maturation and great weather at the end. We could pick at the ideal moment.” Our tasting notes are littered with words like aromatic, purity, freshness, juicy and elegance.

The southern Rhône experienced a warm, dry spring and flowering, generally, went very well. Fine weather continued into the summer, with sufficient rainfall to enable ripening to continue unhindered. August enjoyed very hot days and very cool nights – and there lies the secret to a vintage which many describe as better than 1990 or 2010! The balance between gorgeous, generous, ripe seductive fruit and pristine “coolness”, freshness and purity is, in our experience, unprecedented.

In Daniel Brunier’s opinion “The vintage is characterised by a superb balance of richness and freshness and between high maturity and attractive acidity, which is fairly rare – very rare, even – in the southern Rhône Valley.” These are sublimely attractive wines from the very top of the hierarchy down to basic Côtes du Rhône.

Given the expected paucity of 2017's, this is a vintage well worth exploring and buying a little more of.

All wines will be shipped either Spring 2018 or Autumn 2018 (there may be the odd exception).

Bosquet des Papes

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Caves Yves Cuilleron

Yves Cuilleron is one of the Northern Rhône's finest winemaker – a wonderful combination of elegance, balance and power.

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Clos des Papes

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Clos du Caillou

Team Caillou consists of owner Sylvie Vacheron, winemaker Bruno Gaspard and larger than life consultant Philippe Cambie, with their game plan involving consistency and greatness in equal measure. Their Châteauneuf du Papes show plenty of concentration and weight that can lend themselves to well over a decade’s ageing. The Bouquet des Garrigues bottling is the one for those looking for more immediate pleasure, but still showing the spiced black fruit house style.

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Daniel & Denis Alary

Though Cairanne does not have the cachet of some of the more well-known southern appellations it is arguable the best of the Côtes du Rhône Villages. The Alary family have been farming their estate for many a generation and now under Denis’ stewardship the wines have quietly obtained best-in-area status. Predominately Grenache-led (apart from the Syrah dominant Font d’Estevenas) these supple and unassuming wines are brilliant value for money.

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Domaine de la Charbonniere

.The Maret family at Domaine de la Charbonnière is now into their fourth generation, with sisters Véronique and Caroline now the driving force along with enology consultant, the ubiquitous Philippe Cambie. The estate now consists of 30 hectares in total, with 19.5 of them in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and six in Vacqueyras. Like many vignerons in the Southern Rhône, they are using whole clusters more and more- 35-50% in the top 3 Chateauneuf-du-Pape's, resulting in more complexity and freshness into the wines.
I tried all of these recently, and the range has never been better- the Vacqueyras is a great value, but I would seriously suggest trading up the stunning Vacqueyras Cuvée Speciale. Savoury and intense, almost opulent with ripe black fruits and spice,a touch of chocolate and cherry, smokey and savoury from 100% Grenache. The regular Chateauneuf is the best I have tasted from this estate, really juicy and spicy; full of red and black fruits, long, powerful, savoury finish with ripe tannins. My favourite was the Mourre de Perdrix, perfumed with lovely black fruits, long almost creamy with herbs and spice on the finish.

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Domaine de Marcoux

Certified as organic by Ecocert as early as 1991, they follow rigorous biodynamic principles. Their vines spread over twenty plots throughout the famous appellation and they can trace the sites history back to the late 14th century which is why Marcoux is already established in France as a peer to the very greatest names in the village.

The key characteristic of the wines is a crystalline purity, rare this far south and an almost ethereal charm. The Marcoux 16s are, it is fair to say, more than worthy ambassadors for this superlative vintage, as fine an exemplar for all the greatest characteristics of the Grenache grape that one is likely to encounter; ripe, generous and full-bodied, yet without anything approaching an over-worked ‘confit’ quality and with a rich seam of balancing acidity and an astonishing pedigree in the tannic structure. The other grapes, albeit acting as lesser shareholders, are equally impressive. An exceptional trio from an outstanding producer.

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Domaine Fayolle Fils et Fille

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Domaine Grand Veneur

Alain Jaume is less involved now, but his sons Christophe and Sebastien are taking the domaine to higher heights and regularly garnering top scores and accolades. However, he has still kept his pricing feet on the ground under this attention onslaught. Yet this doesn’t mean that the wines are any easier to get your hands on, with his stable of thoroughbred Châteauneufs still likely to have the masses fighting over limited allocations. There is a balance and purity that makes these extremely exciting wines. All thoroughly recommeneded, though the Origines may be the star buy. Please note ordering across the board will help us spread the allocation of the Vieilles Vignes, preference will be given to those buying across the range.

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Domaine la Soumade

A magnificent range from the superstar of Rasteau. André Romero is a great character and arguably he and his team are making the best wines of the region. This was a really strong showing, the Grenache being so perfumed and fresh. The Rasteau Cuvée Prestige is probably the value pick, from old vines, it's a full rich style, ripe black fruits and spice to the fore. The Confiance and Fleur du Confiance are as you would expect, seriously impressive, age-worthy wines from a great vintage.

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Domaine Lionel (Philippe) Faury

Philippe and his son Lionel are now making some of the best wine in the region. They are certainly very good value.

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Domaine Mordorée

Having featured in his own French TV programme Christophe Delorme is well and truly a superstar winemaker. But it was not for his rugged good looks or charming family that he was chosen, though he has both. Christophe is also one of the very best vignerons in the country (and the world according to a rather influential Baltimore-based writer) and makes beautifully supple and complex wines from Lirac and Châteauneuf du Pape. Beware, limited quantities and waiting lists lie ahead.
As ever we don't get much of the Châteauneuf du Pape Reine des Bois and it helps to buy other wines to get an allocation. The white Lirac Reine des Bois is like many 16 whites, really attractive- floral, perfumed with plenty of weight and spice on the palate. The red wines are exceptional. The Lirac La Dame Rousse is a great value, it has a lovely core of ripe berry fruit with spice and ripe tannins. Both the Reine des Bois wines are as good as I have tasted, full and rich with gobs of sweet fruit and spice, the Lirac will be delicious in a few years, the Châteauneuf du Pape needs more time but will be sensational. Likewise the super value Châteauneuf du Pape 'La Dame Voyageuse' a touch closed at present, savoury and meaty with great potential.

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Domaine Roger Sabon

“Jean-Jacques and his family continue to produce reference point wines at all different levels as thus is one of the top estate in Chateauneuf du Pape.” Robert Parker

All their cuvees are very impressive from ‘Le Secret’ made in tiny quantities, 2000 bottles, from vineyards of over 100 years old to the cuvee ‘Les Olivets’, which must be one of the best value wines produced in the appellation.
The Lirac which is here already gives a lovely snapshot of the vintage being bright and juicy, full of perfumed berry fruit and spice.
The Chateauneuf's were all extremely impressive, the Olivets the best I have tasted, and the Reserve really fine, big and powerful yet with excellent acidity. The Prestige is juicy and dense, red and black fruits, almost a bitter-sweet character with meat and spice, powerful yet already it's beautifully balanced. These will age very well.
Secret de Sabon is likely to be a max of 3 bottles per customer, and ideally to be ordered with other wines.

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Domaine Vincent Paris

A now established superstar of Cornas, Vincent Paris manages his roughly 20-acre estate to produce three Cornas; the Granit 30, which comes from younger vines located lower on the slope, in the lieu-dit Mazards; the Granite 60, which includes the older vines of the estate (and comes from steeper, higher elevation slopes); and the La Geynale, which comes from a single plot of 100-year-old vines located mostly in the Renard lieu-dit (it is also the only wine to not see any destemming). With regards to the Granit 30 and Granit 60, the number refers to the slope of the hill where the vines are planted, not the age of the vines.
I was blown away by the quality of these wines in 2016. The Cornas Granit 30 is incredibly forward -juicy with lovely bright red berry fruit with lots of spice. The Granit 60 is bigger, more savoury and meaty, with a mouth-filling palate full of lovely ripe berry fruits, oak and spice on the long finish. Stunning. The Geynale is always the most backward, and it is again in 2016, however the fruit is really ripe and sweet alongside roasted meats and spice it's incredibly impressive. Long with ripe tannins and a minerality, it has a great future. Despite the amazing press Paris has had, and the great quality, prices remain very fair.

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Fondrèche is a textbook case of how a talented vigneron in a not so fashionable appellation can produce quality-to-price ratio miracles. Sébastien Vincenti has been making fabulous wines in the Ventoux for years and has a passionate following amongst Noel Young Wines. Syrah-dominated, his red blends display a remarkable complexity and drinkability. He continues to set a very high benchmark for everyone in Ventoux to follow.

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Francois Villard

François’ operation is a great example of the modern Rhône; a relative newcomer (he started in the wine game just over fifteen years ago) there has been extensive investment in his winery and cuverie, and selection of the parcels of grapes is bordering on the profligate. The resulting wines are then treated to the best wood money can buy; be it new or older. A more expressive, passionate and driven vigneron you will not come across.

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Pierre Gaillard

Having cut his teeth by working for Guigal in the 80s (Pierre had the equally arduous and loving task of tending the La Turque vineyard) and actually owning more red vines than white, you’d expect Pierre Gaillard to have made his reputation on Côte Rôties and Saint Josephs. Not so; the name Gaillard is interchangeable with Condrieu wines of the very best quality. As well as the Northern Rhône, the ever busy vigneron has projects in Banyuls and Faugères.

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Rene Rostaing

2x6 Ampodium required for 1x6 Cote Blonde allocation.

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Vignobles Mayard

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Winelist last updated: 15/07/2018 21:57:34

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