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OLIVIER CLAPE WITH HIS INSPIRATIONAL GRANDFATHER AUGUSTE, MY HERO

VERY HOT, VERY DRY, REDUCED CROP

AUGUST 2017

As the RHÔNE swelters under temperatures touching 40°C, the vineyards are heading for a blockage in their ripening season. Crop has already been reduced by coulure (flowers failing to convert into fruit) in both the NORTHERN and SOUTHERN RHÔNE. At CORNAS, OLIVIER CLAPE estimates a loss of around 30%, for example. “Flowering coincided with an enormous burst of vegetation growth, prompted at source by the heat in April, and the vines couldn’t place their energy everywhere at once,” he says. "We look like harvesting our SAINT-PÉRAY around the end of August, the SYRAH for CORNAS a week or so later.

"The second week of August may have some rain, and fresher conditions," he concluded, perhaps somewhat hopefully.

In the SOUTHERN RHÔNE, high speed Mistral winds in the third week of July also concentrated what are small grapes already. There are growing signs of drought, as reported by DOMINIQUE AY of the excellent DOMAINE RASPAIL-AY at GIGONDAS: “it was 28° to 35°C during July, and is near 38°C now. Depending on the soils, there is drought – though the signs of yellowing leaves haven’t come through. Old vines with their deep roots are OK, but vines under 10 years’ old are more drought affected. Some plots have zero crop, others are better.”

The main impact of this news of shortfall will be pressure on prices, with the much acclaimed 2015 and 2016 vintages carrying a strong following among drinkers and investors alike. At least the crop is healthy for now, but the prospect of a drought-style vintage situated somewhere between 1983, 1989 and 2003 lies ahead.

Goings-on

LATE SUMMER EVENTS ACROSS THE RHÔNE > >

With music, cultural and food and wine festivals going on during the summer months, here is a selection of some that might appeal to readers if you are in the Rhône Valley during August and September, . . . . .

SPRING IS IN THE AIR > >

LES PRINTEMPS DE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE SATURDAY 8 APRIL, SUNDAY 9 APRIL, 2017 [OPEN TO ALL], MONDAY 10 APRIL 2017 [TRADE DAY] SALLE DUFAYS, CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE, 10.00-18.00 HRS SATURDAY & SUNDAY, 10.00-19.00 MONDAY COST: €10 with a tasting glass INFORMATION: +33(0)490 83 71 . . . . .

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The year kicks off with what has become an extremely successful and therefore vastly crowded event, the MARCHÉ AUX VINS D’AMPUIS, featuring CÔTE-RÔTIE. After all the hoopla surrounding 2015, this will be an action-packed affair this . . . . .

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