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THE 1630 CHAPELLE SAINTE-ANNE AT BEAUMES-DE-VENISE, WITH MONT VENTOUX IN THE BACKGROUND. TASTINGS OF 2015 AT VENTOUX HAVE SHOWN A GOOD QUALITY VINTAGE, WITH DOMAINES SUCH AS LA PIGEADE BASED AT BEAUMES-DE-VENISE AND CHÂTEAU LA CROIX DES PINS AT MAZAN TO THE FORE

EARLY GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN RHÔNE 2015 FROM VENTOUX

AUGUST 2016

2016: THE STORY SO FAR

Many regions in France have suffered badly from frost and hail this year. However, apart from some very bad frost high on the hill of HERMITAGE in April, the RHÔNE has largely been spared. From both the NORTH and the SOUTH, growers give encouraging reports, with the main difference one of levels of rainfall – regular, but not really heavy bouts in the NORTH, and conditions approaching drought in the SOUTH.

From CÔTE-RÔTIE in the NORTHERN RHÔNE, BENJAMIN DUCLAUX of DOMAINE BENJAMIN & DAVID DUCLAUX, one of the two talented brothers, told me: “things are going very well. It’s been a year of a lot of vegetation, so there has been more work than in a classic year. There have been regular rainfalls – but luckily no storms - so no drought stress. Normally we clip the excess shoots twice a year, but this year will require three gos on that. There has been mildew pressure, requiring treatments.

Right now a lot of growers are out in the vineyards with their traille (pulley system to work hillside soils) to cut back on the weeds and grasses. We have taken on more seasonal workers than usual as well, because of all that growth. The veraison is just starting now, with a few grapes turning colour.

If you take the 100 day rule from flowering, we are on course for harvesting 20-25 September.”

From CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE, the young, motivated JULIEN BARROT, who is very content with his enlarged cellar in the village, talked to me about his DOMAINE LA BARROCHE vineyards: “things are impeccable, and the potential is good,” he related. “There is a slight fear about drought, we need rain, and without rain there may be a blockage in ripening. There’s been no mildew, oïdium nor black rot. The veraison is happening now – the grapes changing colour – and we may start the harvest around 15 September. The yield is good so far, similar to 2015.”

At the celebrated CLOS DES PAPES, owner VINCENT AVRIL gave his report: “the grape harvest looks very joli, with no blights at all because it’s been very dry; the vines are resisting well. There aren’t many weeds because of the dry conditions. Overall, we have had just 260 mm (10.2 in) of rain since early January. The bunches aren’t too tightly knit and look fine. The grapes are small, and there isn’t a lot of juice in each grape – but that’s good for quality. We do need rain, though.

The veraison started around 18 July, and is going quite quickly, 70% completed in some places. Harvest could be around 12-14 September, not before. It all depends on August. It’s a normal year vis-à-vis ripening, and we are running at 22-25 hl/ha, before discarding, which beats our recent averages.”


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Goings-on

A BUSY SUMMER OF EVENTS, TASTINGS, MUSIC, DANCING, FESTIVITIES

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 July, August or . . . . .

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SPRING & EARLY SUMMER DIARY DATES FOR 2016: REACH FOR YOUR WALKING BOOTS

VIGNES TOQUÉES DANS LES COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES SATURDAY 28 MAY, SUNDAY 29 MAY, 2016 Another walk, this time around 7-8 km (under 5 miles) through the spread out vineyards of Costières de Nîmes in the Gard. The seventh . . . . .

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DIARY DATES FOR 2016

MARCHÉ AUX VINS D’AMPUIS AMPUIS, FRIDAY 22 JANUARY – MONDAY 25 JANUARY, 2016 The usual bun fight at what is the Rhône’s most crowded event. 60 domaines will be showing their wines, with around 200 wines to taste . . . . .

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