Drop what you’re doing and buy some Rhône 2010!

by Matt Philpott

I popped into Lay & Wheeler’s Rhône 2010 En Primeur Grower’s Tasting last week to try some wines that I have been pretty excited about for a long time now. Sometimes I’ve been let down, even if only a little, having built up a vintage in my head prior to tasting it. Last night I’m pleased to say, this was not at all the case.

The 2010 vintage in both the Northern and Southern Rhône has been quietly developing a stellar reputation with critics while Bordeaux and Burgundy grab the limelight.

“…having already started my tastings of the 2010 vintage in Burgundy and the Rhône, I must urge those of you who like wines from these two great French wine regions to try to put a bit of money aside (ha!) to invest in the 2010s from them. After the unusually ripe, relatively low acid wines made in 2009, the 2010s typically show considerably more precision and freshness, and more supple tannins in the case of the southern Rhône.”

Jancis Robinson MW, Purple Pages, Dec 2011.

I have long had a soft-spot for the exotic aromatics, flavours and textures found in the Rhône and so fully expected to be wowed by this tasting. These high expectations were completely exceeded and I left Glaziers Hall feeling pleasantly reassured that you can still find great wines from France without re-mortgaging your home, selling a kidney or visiting a loan shark.

The whites were, without exception, stunning and characterised by a perfect balance of ripe orchard fruits, minerality and beautiful, fresh acidity. Condrieu was a particular stand-out for me with all of the wines from this famous region showing beguiling texture and exotic fruit as well as 2010’s hallmark freshness. I have already bought some Condrieu made by the amiable Michel Ogier for my Fine Wine Plan

As for the reds, the massively concentrated Châteauneuf-du-Papes are balanced by that fresh acidity again and there is a wealth of different styles available from some fantastic producers – something for every palate. I haven’t decided on a favourite yet, but I know that I will inevitably buy a case or two.

Where else could you find a wine rated 97-99 points by Robert Parker (The Wine Advocate, October 2011) for £44 per bottle in bond?

2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvée Réservée, Domaine du Pégau
The whole of the Rhône produced spectacular wines in 2010 and I tasted several brilliant Gigondas and Vacqueyras from the Southern Rhône as well as some stunning wines from Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage in the North Rhône.

I genuinely believe that anyone who stashes away some of Lay & Wheeler’s selection of 2010 Rhônes will not be disappointed a few years down the line when they’re ready to drink.

If 2010 is a special year for you, as it was for me, then the Rhône could be a delicious alternative to the tradition of stashing away a case of Bordeaux or Port. Luckily for me Mrs P enjoys a nice drop of Grenache, Syrah or Viognier!

4 thoughts on “Drop what you’re doing and buy some Rhône 2010!

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