2007: A difficult year with a cool, wet summer that was saved by warm and sunny weather in September and early October. Reds are extremely variable and generally for early drinking, but whites are superb.

2006: Not as good as 2005, particularly for Cabernet based reds, which struggled to ripen. However, dry and sweet whites are delicious.

2005: An outstanding vintage across the board thanks to perfect weather conditions. Reds are balanced and elegant with ripe fruit and beautiful aromatics. Sauternes is also exceptional.

Premier Vin du Château de Pitray 2005, Côtes de Castillon
£8.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles

You can find serious value for money in the Côtes de Castillon and this wine punches well above its weight. Beautifully balanced with ripe, plummy fruit and subtle notes of fruitcake, spice and lead pencil, it has a depth of flavour that suggests a far higher price tag.


2008: A low-yielding old-fashioned vintage that was saved by favourable late-summer conditions.

2007: A classic Beaujolais vintage producing fruity and attractive wines.

2006: A good year in spite of the weather producing fruity, perfumed wines for relatively early drinking.

Fleurie 2007, Chanson Père et Fils
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles

The Indian summer of 2007 ensured perfect ripeness in Fleurie’s grapes. This wine shows fantastic concentration of flavours and a particularly fragrant and floral perfume of violets and red berries, plus subtle hints of liquorice and spice. Complex with perfectly balanced tannins on the finish.

Red Burgundy

2007: Tricky summer growing conditions saved by fine September weather, producing many ripe, fruity and aromatic wines for the medium term. The Côte de Nuits is generally better than the Côte de Beaune.

2006: Patchy with a few rot problems in the Côte de Beaune, but some fruity yet forward reds from the Côte de Nuits.

2005: One of the best vintages in years, producing rich and concentrated wines. Those from the Côte de Nuits are particularly good.

Gevrey Chambertin 2007, Jean Bourguignon

Fine September weather ensured the perfect ripening of grapes, meaning powerful aromas and real concentration of flavours. Wild berries, leather and musk on the nose lead to a seriously elegant, fruity and harmonious palate with smooth tannins and fantastic length.

White Burgundy

2008: Similar summer conditions to 2007, with September saving the day. Yields are significantly down, but quality is high. Chablis is excellent, with great minerality, concentration, acidity and balance.

2007: Elegant, fresh wines with great purity of flavour and minerality. In Chablis, yields are down after hailstorms in July, but quality is high.

2006: A very good year for rich, ripe and relatively forward wines. Chablis is also excellent with particularly refreshing acidity.

Chablis 2008, Vocoret
£10.99 or £9.99 when you buy 2 bottles

The perfect example of an exceptional 2008 Chablis. Elegant and lively, it has lovely pure citrus fruit notes backed up by steely, flinty, mineral hints. Racy acidity zips through it, refreshing the palate and lingering long on the finish.


2008: Similar to 2007 vintage conditions, but yields are significantly down following spring frosts in Muscadet, and summer hail in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. Quality is up on 2007 with more concentration of fruit and better balance.

2007: Fine September and October conditions saved the day here too, ensuring a ‘classic’ if not ‘great’ vintage.

2006: A difficult year, although early-ripening varieties like Sauvignon Blanc are excellent throughout. Not so good for sweet whites.

La Grille Cool Fermented Chenin Blanc 2008, Gwenaël Guihard, Anjou
£6.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

2008 saw the perfect conditions for this Chenin, made from grapes grown on the granite and schist of the Western Loire, to shine. It’s off-dry with bags of citrus, white peach and fl oral notes, a creamy mouthfeel from extended lees ageing, and a zingy acidity that cuts through and refreshes the palate.


2008 wasn’t an easy vintage, although beautiful September weather saved the day.

2007 was also difficult with chaotic weather conditions. Chardonnay looks best.

2006 was also good for Chardonnay, but not so good for both Pinots.

2005 was not a true or great vintage, although quality is probably only just below the bumper 2004 vintage.

2002 produced a high-quality vintage.

Southern France

2008: A difficult year with problems ranging from rot and mildew to drought and hail. However, conscientious growers were rewarded with delicious whites and rosés, and good reds.

2007: An incredibly difficult year in southwest France, with yields well down and quality variable. The Languedoc-Roussillon on the other hand had an excellent year producing balanced, complex wines, often with great ageing potential.

2006: Mixed results with some great wines being made, and also some poor wines. An average year for the vast Vin de Pays area.

Domaine Py Merlot 2007, Vin de Pays d’Oc
£5.99 or £4.99 when you buy 2 bottles

This fantastic everyday red is the perfect example of the Languedoc’s concentrated, complex 2007s with bags of ripe plums, blackberries, chocolate and spice. Eminently smooth, this is a real crowdpleaser and represents serious value for money.


2007: An excellent vintage in the southern Rhône, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Northern Rhône had a more complicated growing season, but there are many excellent wines to be found.

2006: A healthy year producing rich, balanced wines with generous fruit. Some age-worthy Northern reds, and good acidity in the whites.

2005: A great year with perfect conditions enabling rich, balanced wines to be produced. In the North, 2005 could match the excellent 1990 vintage.

Réserve Rouge 2007, Côtes du Rhône, Perrin et Fils
£8.99 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles

2007 was a fantastic year for Perrin in the southern Rhône, with near-perfect conditions producing classy wines like this. Deep in colour with a great concentration of peppery black fruit and roasted garrigue herbs, it’s complex with finegrained tannins that linger long and smooth.


2008: An exciting vintage that is probably the best for over a decade, producing wines with great minerality, acidity and depth of flavour.

2007: Despite threats from hail and August rains, fine September weather allowed grapes to ripen perfectly.

2006: An unusual year with September rain causing problems with rot, although some excellent wines have also been made.

Gewürztraminer 2008, Cave de Turckheim

This is textbook Gewürztraminer from the fantastic 2008 vintage offering masses of rose petals, peaches and lychees on the nose, with hints of Turkish Delight, tangerine and Nivea cream. The palate is rich and full with subtle spicy notes adding complexity.

*All prices valid until 26th April 2010

1 thought on “Master Class: Vintage Guide for France

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.