TOP GRADE SAINT-PÉRAY: DOMAINE DU TUNNEL
SAINT-PÉRAY is now on wine drinkers’ radar, having been not even a blip on it ten years ago. To say that there has been a transformation is putting it mildly, but it’s the profile, rather than the quality of the wines, that has moved up a gear.
The increase in renown has been partly fuelled by there being more of the wine on sale. The handbrake has been well and truly taken off yields - they were 40 hl/ha when I started in the 1970s - and now stand at 50 hl/ha. Plantation rights run to around five hectares per annum, so there is something of a Klondyke experience going on. If the lazy journalist just sits in a tasting room and receives the wines, then a coherent picture can be dealt. However, tramping around the vineyards tells another story: rather crazy little pockets of plantation here and there at height, nothing joined up bar the area around the village itself.
Cash is King these days in the NORTHERN RHÔNE vineyards, and land is costly now, having been cheap – hence the pressure to build for VALENCE-bound commuters in the past. CHAPOUTIER is near the vanguard of this charge forwards, and the sadness is that young growers of modest means are themselves finding it hard to gain a foothold even in an apparently lesser appellation such as SAINT-PÉRAY. The JEAN-BAPTISTE SOUILLARD approach – a portfolio of 16 merchant wines, limited quantities of each, without the onerous burden of land investment – is one that will be seen more.
For now, the glamour is supplied by talented growers such as STÉPHANE ROBERT - I bet he is glad he started in the mid-1990s, with rental and small purchases at that time. The GRIPA family have long owned vineyards here, and their two wines, carefully crafted by the also talented FABRICE, are top notch examples of SAINT-PÉRAY.
CORNAS growers have always had a little SAINT-PÉRAY on the side, as it were, and they continue to provide well made wines, with the ALAIN VOGE stable favouring rich styles suited to classic butter-based cuisine – the FLEUR DE CRUSSOL the main example of that, while their vineyard-specific ONGRIE, named after one of the prime granite sites near CORNAS, is subtle and pure, STGT in 2016.
Other CORNASIENS to make sound SAINT-PÉRAY are JACQUES LEMENICIER and OLIVIER CLAPE [who has stepped their ST-P up a notch or two, gunning for freshness and style more than before]. I also always like the COLOMBO BELLE DE MAI, which LAURE produces with some flair.
HIGH QUALITY ROUSSANNE
The vintage was well received by the growers, with STÉPHANE ROBERT of DOMAINE DU TUNNEL telling me: “it’s been a super year, and it wasn’t too much of a late vintage. August and September were exceptional, with no blockage of ripening. The yields are good, near the maximum allowed. The ROUSSANNE is especially fresh, has good balance, better than the MARSANNE.”
OLIVIER CLAPE related his 2016 perspective: “it is beau vintage for SAINT-PÉRAY, but was quite complicated due to mildew,” He explained. “The white crop was quite “hot”; I lowered the dose of copper since the vegetation was tired. I harvested the old plot on LES BLÂCHES (1940s, 1990) at 14° before the SYRAHs. The young vines (late 2000s) suffered from a lot of mildew, and were slow to ripen, so we left them, and a week later they had reached 13°. Our yield was 42 hl/ha. 50 hl/ha is allowed now, with 55 hl/ha on the sparkling. 2016 is supple, less ripe and dense than 2015, which had a low amount of juice per grape.”
There has been a helter skelter of planting across SAINT-PÉRAY in recent years, as already noted in past despatches. The effect is that some vineyards stand on their own, at height – 350 metres or more – and are home to young vines. In a rainy year, they would be a dodgy proposition. With the run of sunny years from 2015 to 2017, that has not been an issue, and 2017 may be aided by some lower degree, late ripening crop.
SAINT-PÉRAY is no longer a bargain, but if you are a RHÔNE disciple, then you should certainly have some in your cellar.
|****(*)||Domaine Gripa Les Figuiers||2032-34||11/17||neat, serene, classy, very beau|
|****(*)||Domaine du Tunnel Prestige||2021||11/17||suave, serene, stylish, classy|
|****||Cave de Tain Fleur de Roc||2022-23||11/17||tight, cool, stylish, STGT|
|****||M Chapoutier Lieu-Dit Hongrie||2023-24||02/18||fluid gras, Marsanne spine|
|****||Domaine Durand||2022||01/18||soft, fresh, vibrant, w.o.w.|
|****||Domaine Rémy Nodin Le Suchat||2025-27||12/18||stealthy nourishment, calm, precise|
|****||J-Louis Thiers Terres Rouilles||2025-26||12/18||style, elegance, floral, detail, V|
|****||Domaine du Tunnel Marsanne||2021||11/17||suave texture, tangy, restrained|
|****||Domaine du Tunnel Roussanne||2021||11/18||en finesse, fragrant, graceful|
|****||Les Vins de Vienne||2021||04/18||fruit purity, elegance, w.o.w.|
|****||Les Vins de Vienne Les Faures||2023-24||12/17||gd substance, fine freshness|
|****||Alain Voge Fleur de Crussol||2027-28||02/18||firm depth, oxidative, provocative|
|****||Alain Voge Ongrie||2025-26||01/18||suave, subtle, pure, STGT|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2020-21||11/17||smooth content, mineral end|
|***(*)||Laurent & C Fayolle Montis||2022-23||02/18||soft, tasty, dumb, table|
|***(*)||Domaine Gripa Les Pins||2021-22||11/17||floral, graceful, balance|
|***(*)||Chrystelle Michel||2023-24||12/18||soft, supple, smooth, good flow|
|***(*)||J-Baptiste Souillard Chalaboud||2022-23||11/17||cool, careful, tight, smoky|
|***(*)||Vins de Vienne Les Bialères||2022-23||04/18||plump, smooth; rolling gras|
|***(*)||Alain Voge Harmonie||2023-24||01/18||generous content, also fresh|
|***||Mikaël Bourg||2021-22||02/19||mature, wild, character, disorder|
|***||M Chapoutier Les Tanneurs||2022||02/18||New Wave, floral, smooth|
|***||Domaine Clape||2023-24||11/17||easy gras, tight overall|
|***||Domaine Courbis Le Tram||2020||11/17||gentle, spiced, safe|
|***||J-Louis Thiers, Dom du Biguet||2023-24||12/18||soft, pleasant, orderly, correct|
|**(*)||Ferraton Père & Fils Le Mialan||2020-21||12/17||mild, soft, lacks body|
2016 has given CROZES-HERMITAGE another chance to parade the charms of its white wine based around the MARSANNE. For years, these were pedigree-free wines, an afterthought for many of the growers, with young vineyards another factor in their being light, loose or sometimes clumsy when the vinification was askew.
We now live in a Post Parker era, where all things light and bright are the order of the day, and CROZES blanc is fulfilling a requirement for simpatico drinking, in wine bars or on a terrace, perhaps with some cold cuts, saucisson or plain solo. It is the appellation best tuned for such wines across the northern RHÔNE.
There are wines that are suited to table drinking: the **** MARC SORREL based on late 1940s vines, has always been a favourite, a mini-HERMITAGE in good vintages. The **** CAVE DE TAIN HAUTS D’EOLE is another example, along with the **** CROZES-ERMITAGE (note the nobility spelling) LE GRAND COURTIL from FERRATON PÈRE & FILS, and the rich ***(*) DOMAINE COMBIER CLOS DES GRIVES. These are the wines that can offer a varied and stimulating second stage of evolution.
DAMIEN BRISSET of FERRATON PÈRE & FILS was pleased with the levels of acidity that lie at the heart of this vintage’s success. He told me: “this year the whites ended their veraison three weeks after the SYRAH – often the SYRAH is before them. We harvested 80% of the whites before the reds because their ripening accelerated very quickly this year. I could go for greater ripeness than I could on the 2015s because I knew there was good acidity behind the grapes.”
YANN CHAVE was correct in my view when linking 2016 to 2014, saying: “the vintage profile is the same as 2014 – fresh, good drinking whites.” I marginally prefer 2016.
These are reliable buys, and will be good wines to show to people not used to WHITE RHÔNEs, a good point of entry for them. Bonne dégustation.
|****||Domaine Belle Roche Blanche||2023-24||11/17||rich, layered, solid, sauced dishes|
|****||Cave de Tain Les Hauts d’Eole||2021-22||11/17||elegant, style, oak, potential|
|****||M Chapoutier Guer-Van||2022-23||04/18||en finesse, delightful|
|****||Domaine du Colombier||2020||11/17||joli, wholesome, la table, STGT|
|****||Fayolle Fils & Fille Les Pontaix||2022||02/18||balance, length, STGT|
|****||Ferraton Le Grand Courtil||2026-27||02/18||clear richness; delicacy, length|
|****||E Guigal||2023-24||11/17||refined gras, charm|
|****||Jeantet-Laurent Croix de l'Ermite||2029-31||12/18||elegant, tasty, fresh, clear, character|
|****||Domaine des Martinelles||2021-22||11/17||clear, elegant, very stylish|
|****||Domaine Les Quatre Vents La Rage||2020-21||12/18||floral, v refined, lovely aperitif|
deep texture, fat, a lot
|****||Jean-Baptiste Souillard Le Tout||2025-26||11/17||firm gras; intellectual|
|***(*)||Aléofane||2020||11/17||smooth, generous, grapey|
|***(*)||Maison Les Alexandrins||2022||03/18||stylish gras, gentle life|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2019||11/17||joli gras, lively, typical|
|***(*)||Yann Chave||2021||11/17||sound richness, tasty, tight|
|***(*)||Domaine Combier Clos des Grives||2026-27||03/18||shapely richness, redondo|
|***(*)||Fayolle Fils & Fille Sens||2022||02/18||neat gras, fresh, tangy|
|***(*)||Dom Gaylord Machon La fille||2022-23||11/18||mixed fruits, nice heart|
|***(*)||Domaine Melody Chaos Blanc||2022||05/18||soft fruits, oaked, cellar-led|
|***(*)||Domaine Melody L’Exception||2021||04/18||grapey, genuine, smooth, homely|
|***(*)||Dom du Murinais Cuvée Marine||2021||04/18||fresh, up, compact, direct|
|***(*)||Domaine Pradelle||2020||04/18||bonny, elegant, floral|
|***(*)||Dom Les Quatre Vents Pitchounettes||2020||12/18||supple, precise, fresh, easy gras|
|***(*)||Vidal-Fleury||2021-22||04/18||typical Marsanne, clear, salty|
|***(*)||Domaine de la Ville Rouge Nathan||2020-21||11/18||exotic fruits, gentle, savoury|
|***||Domaine Belle Terres Blanches||2020-21||11/17||supple, content ease, needs fusion|
|***||Dom Les Bruyères Aux Bétises||2021||02/18||plump, fulsome, easy|
|***||M Chapoutier Les Meysonniers||2021||02/18||soft, nicely proportioned|
|***||Domaine Combier||2020||07/17||tangy, grippy, breezy|
|***||Les Vins de Vienne||2020||04/18||low acidity, fat, plain|
|**(*)||Domaine Breyton||2020||12/18||nose charm, but v light palate|
BIODYNAMIC PRACTICES SINCE 1997 AND A GOOD TOUCH WITH HIS ROUSSANNE: JEAN DELOBRE [L] OF LA FERME DES SEPT LUNES WITH HIS NEW PARTNER IN THE DOMAINE, JACQUES MAURICE [R], AN ORGANIC EX CO-OPERATEUR
In tune with the fresh tenor of the vintage, the NORTHERN RHÔNE whites have performed very well. 2016 is a vintage that brought forward the natural finesse of the ROUSSANNE, so there is elegance in wines made in part from that variety, of which there are not many at over 20% across SAINT-JOSEPH.
From a small sample, I would highlight the zero SO2 LUNE ROUSSE [100% R] from the organic LA FERME DES SEPT LUNES, which is relaxed, floral and fine, a **** wine. Then there’s the **** AURÉLIEN CHATAGNIER BLANC [45% R] - quietly stylish, greatly charming wine - while the DOMAINE GRIPA [30% R] is gentle, charming ***(*) wine, and the DOMAINE VALLET MÉRIBETS [60-80% R] holds cosy gras, and is a genuine, natural ***(*) wine. All four have not been over-marked with oak, so permit this ROUSSANNE perspective. Hence, keep your eyes peeled for such wines this year – the same applies at SAINT-PÉRAY, by the way.
This excellent vintage was set up by the stable September weather and dry conditions that allowed ripening to occur gradually. The wines hold slightly better balance than the more tenacious 2015s, which were harvested a couple of weeks earlier, with more intensity in their harvest.
The freshness and length of the 2016s are attributes to signal, while the leading wines have the additional kicker of great depth, and will evolve well over at least a dozen years: note three ****(*) wines, the M CHAPOUTIER LES GRANITS, always a serious wine from 100% old MARSANNE, the COURSODON PARADIS ST PIERRE, which always lives well, and the DOMAINE GRIPA LE BERCEAU, another top notch white which also stays the route well over time. All these will still be doing well in the early 2030s.
For those of you who like HERMITAGE BLANC, but find the budget stretched to buy them, I would recommend SAINT-JOSEPH BLANC, and I would specifically target the granite soils of TOURNON – the same seam as the West end of the HERMITAGE hill; these whites have proper good structure and become complex over time. All must be drunk à table.
Beyond the three 2016s cited above, add the GONON LES OLIVIERS, and the GUIGAL LIEU-DIT ST-JOSEPH. Honourable mentions also for the CHAPOUTIER LES GRANILITES and the FERRATON LES OLIVIERS. In passing, I would add that year in and year out, the M CHAPOUTIER CHANTE ALOUETTE HERMITAGE BLANC delivers a great quality-price ratio.
From the southern zone just north of CORNAS, LAURENT COURBIS told me about his perspective on 2016, his vineyards bearing more limestone than the granite offerings around TOURNON: “the whites are excellent, good and fresh, very jolis. I consider it as a Grande Année – a great vintage. They are airborne and free – 2016 is a year of whites more than reds for me. 2016 has a bit more foundation than 2014 in the whites, though the vivacity in both vintages is similar.”
From Biodynamic DOMAINE MONIER-PERRÉOL near SAINT-DÉSIRAT, SAMUEL MONIER pointed out one difficulty: “it was difficult to end the sugar fermentation this year,” he told me, “also on our VIN DE PAYS ROUSSANNE. The malo went off before the sugars were finished, so there was a loss of acidity.”
Overall, then, it’s a vintage to buy, cellar and enjoy in the case of the highest grade wines, while the ***(*) and **** whites will all prove good buys, be they on a merchant’s list or in a restaurant.
|****(*)||M Chapoutier Les Granits||2029-31||02/18||most delicious, v gd heart|
|****(*)||Dom Coursodon Paradis St Pierre||2031-33||02/18||real depth, tang, heart|
|****(*)||Domaine Gripa Le Berceau||2034-36||11/17||heart, tasty, textured, character|
|****||M Chapoutier Les Granilites||2028-30||02/18||rich, satisfying, wholesome, local|
|****||Aurélien Chatagnier||2021-22||01/18||tender, stylish, great charm|
|****||Domaine Courbis Les Royes||2024-26||11/17||
rich, stylish, smooth flow
|****||Domaine Coursodon Silice||2027-29||02/18||jaunty appeal, suave, live|
|****||Ferme Sept Lunes Lune Rousse||2021-22||02/18||fresh, suave gras, floral|
|****||Yves Gangloff||2024-25||11/17||close-knit, beau, precise|
|****||Domaine Gonon Les Oliviers||2031-33||03/18||fat, firm, sturdy, sultry|
|****||E Guigal||2026-27||11/17||elegant, gentle; cautious juice|
|****||E Guigal Lieu-Dit Saint-Joseph||2028-29||11/17||yum yum, smooth, gd life|
|****||Domaine Monier-Perréol||2027-28||11/17||joli gras, authentic, STGT|
|****||Anthony Paret Larmes du Père||2023-24||11/17||wholesome, natural, shapely|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Terre d’Ivoire||2021-22||11/17||sound weight, tangy|
|***(*)||Domaine Barge La Ribaudy||2026-27||03/18||soft, fleshy, fat, charming|
|***(*)||M Chapoutier Couronne de Chabot||2022-23||04/18||tight, decisive, has style|
|***(*)||Domaine Courbis||2020-21||11/17||soft gras, free, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Yves Cuilleron Lyseras||2022||09/17||tangy, fine, drinkable|
|***(*)||Domaine Durand||2022-23||01/18||typical gras, full, la table|
|***(*)||Romain Duvernay||2025-26||04/18||well filled, compact, floral|
|***(*)||La Ferme des Sept Lunes||2025-26||02/18||sinewed, tight; quiet body|
|***(*)||Ferraton Les Oliviers||2027-29||02/18||restrained, trim fruit, tangy|
|***(*)||Pierre Finon Quatuor||2020-21||11/17||steady gras, fleshy, bright, table|
|***(*)||Domaine Gripa||2023-24||11/17||gentle, charming, soft gras|
|***(*)||Pascal Jamet Vignoble Tour d'Arras||2024-25||12/18||spice, knuckle, clear, table wine|
|***(*)||Domaine Marsanne||2024-25||03/18||relaxed, tender, neat|
|***(*)||S Montez Grand Duc du Monteillet||2023-24||03/18||ebullient, fat, silken|
|***(*)||Domaine Richard Charmen||2021||11/17||rounded, rich, la table|
|***(*)||Domaine Vallet Méribets||2021||01/18||cosy gras, genuine, natural|
|***||Domaine Blachon Prestige||2020||12/18||trad style, bit oxidative, table|
|***||Sébastien Blachon Isaline||2021||11/17||country virtues, rounded|
|***||Cave St-Désirat Amendine||2020||04/18||substantial, waxy, oily, table|
|***||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2019-20||11/17||rich, bit oxidative|
|***||Ferraton Père & Fils La Source||2021-22||11/17||grapey, New Wave, fleeting|
|***||Didier Morion Cranilles||2022-23||12/18||peach flavour, genuine, table|
|***||André Perret||2021||07/17||generous, soft, instant|
|***||Maison Christophe Pichon||2022||04/18||steel, tightness, crisp, apero|
ANTHONY PARET: MAINLY SOLD IN FRANCE, BUT GOOD, REGULAR QUALITY, CONDRIEU AND SEYSSUEL ALSO
2016 is a good, slightly singular vintage at SAINT-JOSEPH. There is a rockiness in some of the wines which stems from the late ripening and the altitude involved here and there: wines with “steel” and undue nerve, where the state of such grapes – low degree, high acidity - played its role.
CROZES-HERMITAGE 2016s are more open and welcoming, by contrast, even if the comparison is not exact, but the influence of the warm lands of the CHASSIS plain led to an easier ripening for the SYRAH there. Hail played a role during the growing season, making life complicated, and reducing yields for those afflicted. Mildew was another hovering blight as the summer went on. For organic growers, there were definite challenges.,
A NORDIC STYLE VINTAGE
The signs of a Nordic vintage lie within the wines; some are light, others overly stretched. Time is required to knit some of them together. Grower opinion ranges from “a very good vintage” to “a difficult vintage.”
Based at ARRAS, which qualifies, just, as the southern sector, PASCAL JAMET gave this appraisal: “things have been tricky from hail this year,” he told me. “Our VIN DE PAYS near PORTES DE VALENCE was hit in June, and our SAINT-JOSEPH around 10 August, which blocked the veraison (grapes changing colour), and set ripening back. At least there was a decent amount of rain at the same time, so there wasn’t drought on the hillside wines.
Because we have very few clone vines, our yield is down – even without the hail - with coulure [flowers failing to convert into fruit] another factor this year. There was some drought stress by early September after no real rain for four to six weeks. We harvested about two weeks later than 2015.”
Another domaine to suffer from hail was MICHELAS-SAINT JEMMS, where quality has been moving forward in recent vintages. They have vines high up on the prized hillside of SAINTE-ÉPINE at ST JEAN-DE-MUZOLS, at 390 metres, SYRAH planted in 1985-86. Their SÉBASTIEN CHEVROL stated: “our SAINT-EPINE vineyard was hit twice by hail this year – 17 April and then again on 31 July, meaning we lost half the crop. The end of July hail also hit SARRAS in SAINT-JOSEPH, and EROME in CROZES-HERMITAGE.”
OUTLAWING THE HEIGHTS OF SAINT-JOSEPH
This brings me to a change in the structure of SAINT-JOSEPH, which has been on the cards for some years now. Ironically, this legislation was passed before the run of hot vintages in the 2010s, and is, overall, regrettable in my view.
Vineyards standing at 320 metres and above will not be allowed to produce SAINT-JOSEPH from 2022. The last vintage is 2021. Growers with vineyards at height have been given the option of planting on areas within the current SAINT-JOSEPH boundaries, but below 320 metres. At present there are around 1,300 hectares of SAINT-JOSEPH, with an allowance of 30 new hectares every year for the whole appellation, something around 2.5% extra. If SAINT-JOSEPH were ever to be “full up”, the surface area would rise above 1,500 hectares.
Growers who plant below the 320-metre line will have time to get their lower vineyards into production – three years – if they then, after that, rip out the high vines. If they don’t destroy the high vineyards, these will be allowed to produce only VIN DE PAYS.
In rainy vintages such as 2014, these high vineyards can struggle for ripeness. You only have to inspect the atrocious high vineyards high up and out of sight of the village of CORNAS, around the grazing pastures of CHABAN, to realise that in a year such as that, these zones can be three weeks behind the main drag, with degree scraping in at 10.5° or so. But in hot years such as 2015 and 2017, they ripen well, and cool down the excess of the main sunbeaten vineyards.
I certainly feel for the MICHELAS SAINT-JEMMS CHEVROL family, whose mature vineyard on a fabulous slope has been compromised in this way.
ESSENTIAL TO KEEP THE CROP VOLUME UNDER CONTROL
Containment of crop abundance where none of hail nor coulure nor mildew had featured was essential this year, as ANDRÉ PERRET explained to me from his base in the northern sector at CHAVANAY: “the SYRAH was magnificent this year – it came in at 13° to 13.5° (the 2015s were 14° to 14.5°), and no chaptalisation was necessary. People with excess crop may have had to chaptalize – if you didn’t green harvest, you could be into 60-70 hl/ha. We green harvested on 20 August.”
ANDRÉ PERRET then described his take on the vintage: “the 2016 red is like 2012, but is more concentrated, and holds very fine tannins. They are between 13° and 14° naturally. 2016 is very fine, Burgundian. There’s fruit, supple tannins, with volume in the wine, and a good quantity – 40 hl/ha, against 39 hl/ha in 2015. There has been no price change over the 2013 and 2014 vintages, while the 2015 rose by €1 and my GRISIÈRES [his old vines ST JO red] went up by 5-6% between 2014 and 2015. There has been no change between 2015 and 2016.”
Also at CHAVANAY, LIONEL FAURY outlined how he saw the style of the wines: “the reds have smoked, lardon-bacon, black fruits and good concentration. The role of May and June 2016 was very strong – the humidity helped us get through the summer – it was very, very dry in August.”
A neighbour high up of LIONEL FAURY is JULIEN BARGE, who gave a moderated assessment in saying: “it wasn’t quite ripe enough for depth, but the wines do have fruit.”
CENTRAL ZONE: BEAU FRUIT
Moving to the more central area of this straggling North-South appellation, above SAINT-DÉSIRAT, the hard core organic SAMUEL MONIER of DOMAINE MONIER-PERRÉOL gave his perception of the year: “it’s not a keeping vintage – the reds should be drunk before 10 years. There is beau fruit, freshness, acidity. We had an attack of late mildew at the end of the veraison (grapes changing colour, August), which started on the leaves at the top. The treatment is copper, but we didn’t do the three or four treatments needed – the copper would have entered the wine at that late stage. Those who did several late copper treatments in late August had a take-off in degree,” he cautioned.
SAINT JEAN-DE-MUZOLS, TOURNON:
The majority of the excellent DOMAINE GONON vineyards lie outside their home village of MAUVES, and JEAN GONON recounted his take on the year as follows: “it was a difficult growing season. There was hail in April at ST JEAN-DE-MUZOLS, after which there were loads of hailstones piled high on the ground, which stressed the vine and rendered the grapes very small. Then there was a lot mildew pressure in June, hail once again on 31 July, more on LES OLIVIERS this time, with a lot of rain, which served the vineyard well because August turned out to be very dry, and hot. We harvested on a normal date, 15-18 September, with a bit of rain half way through. We had to sort and discard crop.
The 2016s are generous in style, quite classic, less concentrated than 2015, the sort of wine we’re used to making. All the growers were very enthusiastic because there was a lot of wine. There are some rather light 2016s. Without the late July rain and a large crop, there was trouble to achieve ripening; CHAVANAY didn’t get this amount of rain at the same time, for example.”
DOMAINE GRIPA is a top five ST JO estate, their red wines taking time after a dumb start, and really gaining as they are cellared past six years. The vineyards centre on TOURNON and MAUVES. FABRICE GRIPA gave this appraisal: “I like the precision of the 2016 vintage. In terms of durability, balance and tannic structure, it’s on the same level as 2015. There is more pleasure in 2016 over 2015. 2016 is more saline than 2015. The two vintages are like 1990 and 1991 – I preferred 1991, or 2006 over 2005 – I preferred 2006. We started our SYRAH on PARADIS at MAUVES on 21 September, the SAINT-JOSEPH LIEU-DIT the next day.”
Just north of CORNAS at CHÂTEAUBOURG, LAURENT COURBIS has vineyards with limestone mixed into the granite. He was content but realistic about the style of the year: “it’s a beau vintage for the restaurant trade – the wines really drink well, are facile, though more concentrated than 2014. It’s a vintage between 2012 and 2014 in that respect, and reminds me of 2006, the wines between 13° and 13.5°.”
FRESHNESS, YES, BUT UNEASY TANNINS ALSO
Freshness is a theme of the 2016 vintage, so there is room for manoeuvre in the development of the wines. However, some certainly need to do just that, given what seems like a lack of ripeness and an uneasy tannin-fruit ratio. Tannin quality is also variable, and the lightness of some wines is nearer 2014 than 2012, say.
A giant lasso would be helpful if it served to draw together the disparate elements of some 2016s – rocky tannins, prominent acidity, the inclusion of stems occasionally adding to the young rockiness. I also felt that the merchant trade wines showed that that part of the market didn’t have a great hand dealt them, their selections based on fairly limited choice – quality fruit wasn’t that easy to find. Hence names such as J DENUZIÈRE ** and dry, GABRIEL MEFFRE - *** for both LAURUS and SAINT-ETIENNE – and OGIER with their *** BALIGANT.
On the plus side, there are wines with most appealing fruit and a tinkling definition. Purity, detail and definition come through in those from the likes of EMMANUEL DARNAUD with the ****(*) old BERNARD FAURIE vineyard on DARDOUILLE, PIERRE and son JÉRÔME COURSODON with their **** L’OLIVAIE, YVES GANGLOFF with his **** ST JO red, the DOMAINE MONIER-PÉRREOL with their **** TERRE BLANCHE, and even the merchant VIDAL-FLEURY [part of GUIGAL] with their w.o.w. **** 2016.
The ****(*) and **** wines are those to concentrate on, certainly from the point of view of being the safest bet this year. These are wines that either have the scope to show very well as they evolve, or those that have a well-founded constitution, are already on good display, and will be steady in their development. Such wines can show well over a decade or so.
A feature of many of the wines was their coolness – 2016 has that profile, as opposed to the higher heat vintages of 2015 and 2017; as mentioned elsewhere, purity prevails over density in 2016.
The curse of NEW WAVE – spartan wines, stripped back to be tense, Burgundian, as if the grower is in denial about the warmth of the RHÔNE VALLEY, lies here and there now in red wines as well as whites. One example for the unwary is the PIERRE GAILLARD LES PIERRES 2016.
For those unsure of the pecking order across SAINT-JOSEPH, I rate the following domaines as BENCHMARK; the S indicates SOUTHERN ZONE, the N indicates NORTHERN ZONE, bearing in mind that the SOUTHERN ZONE is the original area for the appellation when it was created in 1956. M/N = MIDDLE TO NORTH
[S] M CHAPOUTIER – a wide range led by LES GRANITS, which is sparky and interesting. Very good LES GRANITS WHITE, 100% MARSANNE
[S] JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE – the DOMAINE RED is on a constant upward run, fuelled by great granite soils from a maturing vineyard. The CLOS FLORENTIN is a very old vines, packed wine
[S] PIERRE & JÉRÔME COURSODON – New World experience propelled JÉRÔME into a free flow fruited style; the senior cuvées such as PARADIS ST PIERRE live a very long time. Table friendly WHITE
[S] DOMAINE GONON – great SYRAH flair, excellent, long-lived, full of character WHITE
[S] DOMAINE GRIPA – classy WHITES, both SAINT-JOSEPH, SAINT-PÉRAY; intricate, inky REDS
[S] E GUIGAL – the VIGNES DE L’HOSPICE & LIEU-DIT SAINT-JOSEPH REDS are very serious, replete wines suited to ageing and patience – a cheaper way of accessing granite quality than the CÔTE-RÔTIE LA LA range
[N] DOMAINE ANDRÉ PERRET – notably the old vine LES GRISIÈRES, the Village red very drinkable. Correct WHITE
[S] CAVE DE TAIN - given the scale of the operation, their SAINT-JOSEPH range has always had above average character, and the 2016 REDS were a good collection, with some new names such as the TOURNON and the VIEILLES VIGNES
[S] DOMAINE COURBIS – a modern take; the regular RED is easy to drink, the LES ROYES RED, from clay-limestone, ages well and is a serious ST JO. LES ROYES WHITE is a regular **** wine
[S] EMMANUEL DARNAUD – doesn’t have the same gossamer touch as his father-in-law BERNARD FAURIE, but the DARDOUILLE vineyard is a prize in itself
[S] DELAS – their SAINTE-ÉPINE is one of the top wines from a top location, full of granite cut and character, expensive
[N] LIONEL FAURY – notably his older vines LA GLORIETTE RED
[S] FERRATON PÈRE & FILS: a site-specific range of REDS, inc PARADIS ST PIERRE at MAUVES, and SAINT-JOSEPH at TOURNON
[S] DOMAINE JOLIVET – promising, with stylish RED and WHITE
[N] DOMAINE DES MIQUETTES – I owe them a visit, but interesting, organic wines
[M/N] DOMAINE MONIER-PERRÉOL – organic, biodynamic truth in a most interesting set of wines, which are not even from the best locations
[N] DOMAINE DU MONTEILLET, STÉPHANE MONTEZ – always racy fruit, good drive in the RED CUVÉE DU PAPY, which ages well
[N] LES VINS DE VIENNE – quality on a firm rise since the mid-2010s
FRUIT BEARERS, DRINKABILITY
[M/N] EMMANUEL BAROU – clear fruit, unfussy wine, organic for decades
[N] AURÉLIEN CHATAGNIER – plush style, comfy drinking
[S] DOMAINE DURAND – brother JOËL & ERIC make entertaining REDS
[S] PASCAL & CATHERINE JAMET – fun wines, zappy fruit
[M/N] PASCAL MARTHOURET – clear fruit, relaxed style in his RED, the WHITE authentic
[S] DOMAINE MUCYN – a CROZES name whose SALAMANDRES RED always carries great fruit
[N] PIERRE-JEAN VILLA – emphasis on fruit in his TILDÉ RED; efficiency can prevail over soul
[S] ETIENNE BÉCHERAS - some bullseyes, others miss the board, traditional approach
[S] DOMAINE DE LA CÔTE SAINTE-ÉPINE – traditional, old vines, same comment as E BÉCHERAS
[S] DARD & RIBO – notably the WHITES PITROU and OPATÈYRES, both 100% ROUSSANNE
[S] OLIVIER DUMAINE – genuine RED from ST JEAN DE MUZOLS & TOURNON, vintage respect
[S] GUY FARGE – traditional REDS, old oak casks, zero fandango
[M/N] LA FERME DES SEPT LUNES – biodynamic, good integrity in the elegant REDS
[S] DOMAINE HABRARD – organic, true BIO RED, vines from ST JEAN-DE-MUZOLS
[S] DOMAINE JEAN-CLAUDE MARSANNE – relaxed winemaking, 600-litre used cask raising, traditional. Most of the wine being bottled [rather than the best selection] from 2016 is a cautionary note. Table friendly, natural WHITE, too
If I were in a restaurant that listed just one SAINT-JOSEPH, I would happily drink the wines from the following domaines on the grounds of sound quality and reasonable pricing – nothing fancy, and a genuine drop, as well
[S] SÉBASTIEN BLACHON – unforced, natural country wines
[N] DOMAINE BOISSONNET – sound BÉLIVE RED, good WHITE
[N] DOMAINE DU CHÊNE - a good source, including WHITES, with two provisos: pricing, and the REDS not being ready
[N] LOUIS CHÈZE – pricing can be an obstacle, but sound [if modern] RED, good RO-RÉE WHITE
[S] CHRISTOPHE CURTAT – likeable WHITE
[N] PIERRE FINON – good WHITE as well
[N] GILLES FLACHER – oaking but sound body, I almost prefer the LOESS WHITE. Sound CONDRIEU
[N] ANTHONY PARET – fruit-friendly, sound CONDRIEU as well
[N] DOMAINE VALLET – handy, drinkable MÉRIBETS WHITE as well
The DOMAINE DE BOISSEYT-CHOL, which includes a 0.75 hectare of CÔTE BLONDE CÔTE-RÔTIE, has been sold to OLIVIER DECELLE, who made his money in packaged frozen foods under the PICARD brand, with his vigneron partner PIERRE-JEAN VILLA. PIERRE-JEAN unfortunately had a heart attack recently, but is on the mend. The DE BOISSEYT vineyard is tired, and needs revitalising, but also comprises 0.12 hectare in two plots of CONDRIEU, and five hectares of SAINT-JOSEPH, all at CHAVANAY.
|****(*)||Alleno & Chapoutier Couronne Chabot||2025-27||11/17||abundant, grapey, plump, pleasing|
|****(*)||Cave de Tain Tournon||2026-28||11/17||full, genuine, great heart|
|****(*)||M Chapoutier Les Granilites||2028-30||11/17||hefty, meaty, rocky, STGT|
|****(*)||Domaine J-L Chave Clos Florentin||2036-38||03/18||v perky juice, mineral spark|
|****(*)||P & J Coursodon Paradis St Pierre||2025-27||11/17||tight, sleek, cavalier style|
|****(*)||P & J Coursodon La Sensonne||2025-26||11/17||well juiced, good drive|
|****(*)||Emmanuel Darnaud La Dardouille||2024-25||11/17||fine content, serene, detail|
|****(*)||Delas Sainte-Épine||2029-30||11/17||wholesome, entertaining, mineral, bright|
|****(*)||Ferraton Père & Fils Bonneveau||2030-33||11/17||grounded, iron, intricate, STGT|
|****(*)||Domaine Gonon||2033-34||03/18||juicy, abundant, much charm|
|****(*)||Domaine Gripa Le Berceau||2037-39||11/17||wholesome, full, rich, pure, rocky|
|****(*)||Domaine Monier Les Serves||2034-36||11/17||floral gras, provocative, STGT|
|****(*)||André Perret Les Grisières||2027-29||07/17||sap, depth, much charm|
|****(*)||Vins de Vienne Amphore d’Argent||2027-29||11/17||stately, convincing, floral, tangy|
|****(*)||Les Vins de Vienne L’Arzelle||2025-26||11/17||flamboyant, bountiful, spiced, clear|
|****||Domaine Les Alexandrins||2028-30||03/18||juicy abundance, authentic, cool|
|****||Dom des Amphores Les Mésanges||2029-31||12/18||joli fruit, floral, natural, traditional|
|****||Cave de Tain Esprit de Granit||2024-25||11/17||wholesome, fresh, entertaining|
|****||Cave de Tain Vieilles Vignes||2029-30||11/17||sturdy, dense, iodine fresh|
|****||M Chapoutier Le Clos||2027-29||11/17||plenty, compact, authentic, mineral|
|****||Domaine Jean-Louis Chave||2034-37||03/18||stylish, good depth, promise|
|****||Domaine Courbis Les Royes||2026-28||11/17||tight, linear, can Pinote|
|****||P & J Coursodon L’Olivaie||2024-25||11/17||comely richness, neat, detailed|
|****||Dard & Ribo Cuvée Pitrou||2031-33||11/18||engaging fruit, intensity, mineral|
|****||Olivier Dumaine||2024-25||11/17||heart, wavy fruits, grilled|
|****||Lionel Faury La Gloriette||2023-24||11/17||easy gras, serene, stylish|
|****||La Ferme des Sept Lunes Pleine Lune||2027-29||02/19||pure appeal, airborne, cool, refined|
|****||Ferraton Père Fils Paradis||2028-30||11/17||rich, aromatic, interest, STGT|
|****||Ferraton Père & Fils Saint-Joseph||2031-33||11/17||inky, dense, silken|
|****||Yves Gangloff||2025-26||11/17||aromatic, pure, en finesse|
|****||Domaine Gripa||2031-33||11/17||thorough, spiced, fresh|
|****||Domaine Habrard Bio||2023-24||11/17||liberal juice, potential|
|****||Domaine des Hauts Châssis …..?||2023-24||11/17||musky, plump, character|
|****||Pascal Jamet Lieu Dit Les Traverses||2030-32||12/18||spice, genuine, time, hand made|
|****||Dom des Miquettes green label||2028-30||02/19||expressive, good fruit vibe, iron|
|****||Domaine Monier Terre Blanche||2025-27||02/18||aromatic, genuine, pure, fresh|
|****||Dom Monteillet Montez Cuvée Papy||2029-31||03/18||streamlined; liberal juice, crisp|
|****||Domaine Mucyn Les Salamandres||2022-23||11/17||juicy, free, stylish, balanced|
|****||Domaine Perréol Chatelet||2028-30||11/17||bold, grapey, sustained, fresh|
|****||Jean-Baptiste Souillard Janoune||2023-24||11/17||exuberant, fun, true|
|****||Domaine du Tunnel||2027-29||11/17||serious, mineral, gras length|
|****||Vidal-Fleury||2022-23||11/17||tasty, pure, fine, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Maison Les Alexandrins||2024||03/18||gentle, immediate, neat|
|***(*)||Sébastien Blachon Alban||2021-22||11/17||squeezy gras, authentic|
|***(*)||Sébastien Blachon Le Pépé||2022-23||11/17||supple gras, structure, STGT|
|***(*)||Cave St-Désirat Cuvée Côte Diane||2021-22||11/17||cool, clear, smooth|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2025-26||11/17||dark fruit, sizzle tannins|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Vin Biologique||2025-26||11/17||floral, oily, safe style|
|***(*)||Domaine Barge Clos des Martinets||2025-26||03/18||unforced, chewy, lithe|
|***(*)||M Chapoutier Les Granits||2025-27||11/17||fulsome juice, natural, genuine|
|***(*)||Aurélien Chatagnier La Sybarite||2025-27||11/17||gourmand, flashy, luxurious|
|***(*)||Domaine Courbis||2022||11/17||fresh, exuberant, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Pierre et Jérôme Coursodon Silice||2022-23||11/17||plump, mild, relaxed, authentic|
|***(*)||Domaine Durand Les Coteaux||2024-25||11/17||lively fruit, grilled tannins|
|***(*)||Domaine Durand Lautaret||2023-24||11/17||copious, wide, wavy, engaging|
|***(*)||Romain Duvernay||2022-23||11/17||natural, unforced, pleasing|
|***(*)||equis||2024-25||11/17||discreet, sympa, gd juice, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Guy Farge Passion des Terrasses||2023-24||11/17||savoury; juicy fruit, grounded|
|***(*)||Guy Farge Terroir de Granit||2022-23||11/17||sleek, restrained, easy style|
|***(*)||Lionel Faury Hedonism||2024-25||11/17||
grapey, fleshy, rocky, punchy
|***(*)||Ferme des Sept Lunes Chemin Faisant||2026-28||02/19||soft fruit, naked, calm delivery|
|***(*)||Ferraton Père & Fils La Source||2025-27||11/17||regular St Jo, black fruits|
|***(*)||Pierre Finon Les Jouvencelles||2024-25||11/17||pure fruit, juicy, fresh|
|***(*)||Jeanne Gaillard La Relève||2022-23||11/17||cosy richness, rounded|
|***(*)||Pierre Gaillard Clos de Cuminaille||2022-23||11/17||tasty, spiced, clean|
|***(*)||Xavier Gérard Le Blanchard||2024-25||11/17||sweet, fleshy, musky, static|
|***(*)||Roland Grangier Côte Granits||2023-24||11/17||modern, agreeable fruit, oak|
|***(*)||Dom de l’Iserand Sabots de Coppi||2023-24||02/18||upbeat fruit, fresh, natural|
|***(*)||Cath & Pascal Jamet Greenette||2027-28||12/18||muscle, character, fresh, persistence|
|***(*)||Pascal Jamet Vignoble Tour d’Arras||2022-23||11/17||natural, unforced, savoury|
|***(*)||Domaine Bastien Jolivet L’Instinct||2026-28||11/18||nicely tuned, hand made, genuine|
|***(*)||François Merlin Les Grands Ducs||2025-26||03/18||crisp fruit; crunch, naked|
|***(*)||Domaine Monier-Perréol Tradition||2026-27||11/17||tasty, saline, smoke, rigour|
|***(*)||Stéphane Ogier Le Passage||2028-29||11/17||tasty, abundant fruit, upbeat|
|***(*)||Anthony Paret Les Larmes du Père||2023-24||11/17||instant fruit, supple, plump|
|***(*)||Anthony Paret 420 Nuits||2030-32||11/17||
suave; fruit finesse
|***(*)||Vincent Paris Les Côtes||2020-21||11/17||free fruit, crisp tannin|
|***(*)||André Perret||2024||07/17||joli depth, good drinking|
|***(*)||Cave Pinheiro Les Machons||2026-27||12/18||kind fruit; authentic, relaxed|
|***(*)||Domaine des Remizières||2024-26||11/17||plush content, obvious oak|
|***(*)||Domaine Richard Mêverie||2025-26||11/17||sumptuous, fleshy, full, obvious|
|***(*)||Jean-Baptiste Souillard||2022||11/17||supple, genuine, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||J-Baptiste Souillard Bergeron||2027-29||11/17||muscular, raw, thorough|
|***(*)||J-Baptiste Souillard L’Echirol||2023-24||11/17||soft gras, accurate fruit|
|***(*)||Vins de Vienne Lieu-Dit Le Biez||2025-26||11/17||fresh, elegant, funky, deep|
|***(*)||Alain Voge Les Côtes||2023-24||11/17||black fruit, dark tannin|
|***||Aléofane||2024-25||11/17||tight-knit, rugged, compressed|
|***||Dom Emmanuel Barou terra Nostra||2024-25||12/18||bit enforced via new oak, touch floral|
|***||Dom Blachon Hommage Roger B||2023-24||12/18||Mauves red fruits, assertive close|
|***||Christophe Blanc Enfetchores||2026-27||12/18||tight, wiry fruit, floral New Wave|
|***||Christophe Blanc Les Chênes||2023-24||12/18||light, pared back, smoky, tight|
|***||Dom du Chât Vieux Les Rivoires||2022||12/18||grainy fruit, unforced, bit rustic|
|***||Pierre Dulaut||2022-23||12/18||pretty fruit, aromatic, genuine|
|***||Ferme Sept Lunes Premier Quartier||2024-25||02/19||muddy nose; refined juice, gd ping|
|***||Pierre Gaillard Les Pierres||2024-25||11/17||New Wave, spare, cool|
|***||Paul Jaboulet Aîné Grand Pompée||2031-33||12/18||polished, stewed, mainstream|
|***||J-François Jacouton Pierres d’Isserand||2023||11/17||raw, mineral, can expand|
|***||Jeantet-Laurent Les Échalas à Jo||2026-28||12/18||soft gras, cool fruit, linear|
|***||Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne||2025-26||03/18||smooth texture, restraint, light|
|***||Domaine des Martinelles||2030-32||11/18||fine fruit, aromatic, not expressive|
|***||Gabriel Meffre Saint-Etienne||2023-24||11/17||savoury, fleshy, country style|
|***||François Merlin||2023-24||03/18||cool fruits, direct, linear|
|***||Domaine Johann Michel||2025||03/18||soft, toned down, agreeable|
|***||Didier Morion Lléandre||2024-25||12/18||trad, solid quality, country wine|
|***||Cave Pinheiro||2023-24||12/18||clear, appealing; fine tannins|
|***||Stéphane Rousset||2022||11/17||savoury, sweet, succulent, open|
|**(*)||Cave Saint-Désirat Tradition||2021||11/17||perlant, near Vin Nature|
|**(*)||Pierre Gaillard||2023-24||11/17||vegetal, rather thin, time|
|**(*)||Gabriel Meffre Laurus||2023-24||11/17||fleshy, oaked, bumpy ride|
|**(*)||Ogier Baligant||2023-24||11/17||taut, bit stretched, fresh|
|**(*)||Domaine Pradelle||2023-24||11/17||vegetal, spiced, bit clumsy|
|**(*)||Domaine de la Ville Rouge Potier||2024-25||11/18||disparate, vegetal, dry notes|
|**||Domaine Blachon Prestige||2021||12/18||dry palate|
|**||Domaine Blachon Tradition||2020||12/18||dark fruit, furry tannins, dry end|
|**||J. Denuzière||2022-23||11/17||naked, unpolished, bit dry|
DOMAINE CLOS DE LA BONNETTE: AUTHENTIC, ORGANIC AND GENUINE CONDRIEU
2016 is generally an enjoyable, good drinking vintage for CONDRIEU. It stands like a beacon of freshness between two heavyweight, literally, years - 2015 and 2017. However, there are too many “quite nice” wines that cover the range between *** and ***(*); I wish that some of these were capable of rising to **** level, which would be the case if they held greater depth and length. So it’s a good, sometimes very good vintage.
RIPENING CAME LATE
It was a late ripening year, with the degree at times hard won. The quality of the harvest was high. As FRANÇOIS MERLIN observed: “I harvested on 29 September, nine days later than usual; there was a good level of ripeness, the wines are fresh, the average degree of 13.5° reasonable. Compare that with 2017 where the average degree is 15°, with residual sugars, and 2015 when it was 15.5°, and we harvested the 7 or 8 September.”
CHRISTINE VERNAY of DOMAINE GEORGES VERNAY gave this take on the year: “we had a very wet spring, and life was difficult during the year. We reached a level of some drought in August and early September. It has been the latest ripening year I have known, similar to 2013; ripening came along gradually. It’s an attractive year, both for reds and whites – the CONDRIEUs are especially aromatic.
I would term it a beau year, which I like. Whereas 2015 was opulent, 2016 lies between 2014 and 2015. It is like the shape of a ball, and has more length than those. There are typical VIOGNIER aromas such as apricot. Alcohol levels are on the mark, lower and better than 2015. The fruits are very acidulés in style [small, live fruits].”
A TRICKY EARLY SEASON
LIONEL FAURY also pointed out the early difficulties of the growing season: “it’s a very good year,” he related, “after a complicated start to the growing season, marked by regular rainfalls, even if they weren’t abundant. Flowering went well. There was quite a lot of mildew, but it was mostly on the leaves, not the bunches, helped by the North Wind cleaning them. The summer was very hot and very dry, so by harvest time we had some drought stress.”
ETIENNE BEGUIN, cellar master at DOMAINE RÉMI NIÉRO, saw things come good eventually: “we harvested in October, at 14° - against 7 September in 2017, when the degree was already 14° to 14.5°,” he related. “There was a lot of crop early on – you didn’t want to seek high ripeness, but in the end we were at a pH of 3.5, the degree 14°+, and there was balance.”
YVES GANGLOFF was very happy with the state of his harvest: “the crop was very healthy, with a danger of mildew at the end. There was no really formal sorting or discarding. Extreme ripeness was achieved. We started the harvest on 4 October, and ended on 8 October, bringing in 44 hl/ha – against 42 hl/ha in 2015 and 40 hl/ha in 2014. The crop was super, and reminds me of the 1980s – the crop ripe, but at 13.5° - for the last ten years it has been 14.5° to 15°.
SEPTEMBER RAIN VERY HELPFUL
Ripening was blocked in early September – rain never really came, but the 10-15 mm on 9-10 September helped its freshness. The bunches were compact. It’s a year that speaks, and reminds me of the 1980s Condrieus, with the cut and tension in them. Drink it from 2019.”
Freshness in the wines is a recurring feature of 2016; as GAETAN LAFOY of DOMAINE LAFOY recounted: “2016 is very good, as opposed to 2015 and 2017 – it was a less hot year with a bit more yield, which helped to lower the degree and bring acidity, a winning freshness.”
LIONEL FAURY gave a similar report: “the wines are fresh, elegant, aromatic, have very delicate airs similar to 2014, with floral tones. The crop was bigger than usual – in fact, it was the first year I had a full yield. The wines have more finesse than 2015.”
2016 AHEAD OF BOTH 2014 AND 2015 FOR YVES CUILLERON
YVES CUILLERON’s touch with VIOGNIER is exemplary, and he told me: “2016 has better balance and is more fresh than 2015, with good yields, and not too much alcohol. The grapes were beau, well ripened. There is less power than 2015, which was excessive on that front. I also think it’s a bit better than 2014 – both vintages were balanced, but the grapes were in better shape in 2016, with no sorting required.”
ANDRÉ PERRET is another maestro with VIOGNIER: “it’s a super year – in the end,” he stated. “June was difficult with mildew, then it was very fine from July onwards. It was very hot, but not canicule (extreme heat) – temperatures were in the 30s°C, and luckily, nights weren’t hot. We got lucky, with maximum maturity.
ONE OF MY BEST SINCE 1983: ANDRÉ PERRET
2016 is better balanced than 2015 – it’s one of my best since I started in 1983. I started the harvest on CHÉRY the 19 September, then paused for four days, and ended on 3 October. The 1930s VIOGNIER on CHÉRY was in great form. 2016 Condrieu is a bit like 2012, the acidity not very high. It’s more concentrated than 2012, but we kept freshness by not taking leaves off the canopy, and also by not doing a skin maceration – achieving freshness was the key this year. My CHANSON and CHÉRY went up by 5-6% between 2014 and 2015.”
STÉPHANE OGIER was not alone in being happy with the yield and the freshness: “2016 was a full yield at 44 hl/ha, by contrast to 2017,” he informed me; “they are wines that hold super balance, their degree not even 12.5°, their freshness and directness making you want to drink them. I let the malos complete, unlike the heavier 2017 and most of the 2015s.”
JULIEN BARGE has been more interested in white wines than his dad GILLES, and he commented on the nature of the vintage: “it was a bit of a crazy year; the yield was good. It’s a cool year, low degree, one that lacked a bit of sun. It’s more on VIOGNIER than CONDRIEU for me.”
STÉPHANE MONTEZ, DOMAINE DU MONTEILLET, extended his praise of 2016 across the white wine range chez lui: “2016 is a top year for whites. Something that is now helping CONDRIEU is that a lot of vines were planted in the 1980s until around eight years ago. Now a lot of the available land has been planted. It’s good that the vineyards are maturing, and helping minerality in the wines.”
At the top level, I find 2016 a stimulating vintage, not an open book, with good different components making it up. The leading wines have impressive length, good carry. Finesse and flair are present in the leaders – I signal the ****(*) GUIGAL LA DORIANE, which can be an extreme wine in some of the big scale vintages, while the ****(*) YVES GANGLOFF and both the ****(*) ANDRÉ PERRET CHÉRY and the ****(*) M CHAPOUTIER COTEAU DE CHÉRY also hit the mark very successfully: the CHÉRY success indicates that good terroir spoke clearly this year, with no masking from the summer conditions.
A recent domaine that deserves praise on two counts is the DOMAINE CLOS DE LA BONNETTE of ISABELLE GUILLER. Its vineyards are at CONDRIEU, notably on the CÔTE BONNETTE [RENÉ ROSTAING, YVES GANGLOFF, DOMAINE MOUTON also there]. ISABELLE works organically, which is not a given on these slip sliding slopes and terraces, where the easy and short-term option is to use herbicides, including Round Up, and then put on compost.
Managing the soils with a pick axe or rudimentary pulley system denotes a major commitment and belief in working with the environment. PRESIDENT MACRON has stated that FRANCE should ban the use of Round Up by 2021, ahead of any EU directive [2023 generally]; whether it goes through is another matter, but it will have some of the sprayers feeling uneasy, and about time, too.
The DOMAINE CLOS DE LA BONNETTE has produced **** wines in 2015 and 2016, and is a name to note for genuine wines, with character. It can be done.
If you are a fan of CONDRIEU, then 2016 should be bought, since finding wines of good balance in 2017 will be complicated.
|****(*)||M Chapoutier Coteau de Chéry||2023-24||11/17||finely stylish, subtle, lovely|
|****(*)||Yves Gangloff||2029-31||11/17||crisp, grippy, great finesse|
|****(*)||E Guigal La Doriane||2027-29||11/17||flair, sensaround, coolness|
|****(*)||François Merlin Jeanraude||2025-26||03/18||ample depth, manly, long|
|****(*)||Monteillet S Montez La Grillette||2029-30||03/18||savoury, rich, gd authority|
|****(*)||Rémi Niéro Héritage||2024-25||02/18||good central gras, fresh, refined|
|****(*)||Stéphane Ogier VV Jacques Vernay||2028-30||11/17||well defined, inherent strength|
|****(*)||Anthony Paret Lys de Volan||2026-28||11/17||thorough, textured, cool, spiced|
|****(*)||André Perret Chéry||2025-26||07/17||stylish gras; silken, long|
|****||Domaine Barge La Solarie||2024-25||03/18||v enjoyable, charming, gentle|
|****||Dom P&C Bonnefond Côte Châtillon||2023-24||03/18||dainty, refined, mineral, STGT|
|****||Domaine de Bonserine||2022||07/17||tight, good grip, length|
|****||Aurélien Chatagnier||2023||01/18||nourishing, natural, good depth|
|****||Clos de la Bonnette Légenda Bonnetta||2022||03/18||pliant gras; expressive, genuine|
|****||Clos de la Bonnette Roches d’Arbuel||2025-26||03/18||grounded, deft, depth, STGT|
|****||Xavier Gérard Côte Châtillon||2023-25||12/17||muscle, thick gras, STGT|
|****||Jocelyne & Yves Lafoy Aux Ruses||2022||11/17||rich, genuine, thorough|
|****||François Merlin Les Terroirs||2022||03/18||expressive, deft, clear, balanced|
|****||Dom Monteillet S Montez Candice||2029-31||03/18||very likeable, good grip|
|****||Dom du Monteillet S Montez Chanson||2026-27||03/18||manly, rich, firm, long|
|****||Monteillet S Montez Grndes Chaillées||2025-26||03/18||interesting, varied, time|
|****||Rémi Niéro Chéry||2025-26||02/18||stylish, refined, spice, mineral|
|****||Stéphane Ogier Combe de Malleval||2022||11/17||fleshy, enjoyable, elegant|
|****||Anthony Paret Céps du Nébadon||2022-23||11/17||cosy gras, stylish, tasty|
|****||André Perret Clos Chanson||2024-25||07/17||restraint, but well packed|
|***(*)||Cave Saint-Désirat||2023-24||02/18||full, firm, heart, depth|
|***(*)||Clusel-Roch Verchery||2022||02/18||neat, fragrant, naked, true|
|***(*)||Ferraton Les Mandouls||2022-23||01/18||stylish gras, elegant, steady|
|***(*)||André François La Maladière||2021||03/18||good style, authenticity, lucid|
|***(*)||Xavier Gérard L'Arbuel||2023-24||12/18||soft, spiced, calm, nicely true|
|***(*)||Domaine Jean-Michel Gérin La Loye||2024||11/17||tasty, still compact|
|***(*)||E Guigal||2024-25||11/17||fat, creamy, subdued|
|***(*)||Domaine Jamet Vernillon||2021-22||11/17||
good style, charm, restraint
|***(*)||Maison Les Alexandrins||2022||03/18||easy, trim, bit New Wave|
|***(*)||Gabriel Meffre Laurus||2022||03/18||fine, stylish, detail, clarity|
|***(*)||Rémi Niéro Les Ravines||2023||02/18||quietly muscular, solid, has cut|
|***(*)||André Perret||2022||07/17||charming, fine, elegant|
|***(*)||Christophe Pichon Caresse||2023||03/18||suave content, squeezy|
|***(*)||Domaine Richard l'Amaraze||2020||11/17||rich, fat; sauced dishes|
|***(*)||Domaine Vallet Rouelle-Midi||2021-22||01/18||gd ensemble, balance, delicacy|
|***(*)||Dom Grges Vernay Terrasses Empire||2021||07/17||
elegant gras, dainty, fresh
|***(*)||Vidal-Fleury||2021||03/18||juicy gras, gentle, neat|
|***(*)||Les Vins de Vienne La Chambée||2021||03/18||fine, graceful, stylish|
|***(*)||Les Vins de Vienne Jeanraude||2025-26||03/18||meaty, packed, dense, time|
|***||Christophe Blanc Les Vallins||2022||12/18||fresh nerve, New Wave, apero|
|***||M Chapoutier Invitare||2021||02/18||suave elegance, innocuous|
|***||Delas Clos Boucher||2022||11/17||suave texture, tame wine|
|***||Dom Jean-Michel Gérin Les Eguets||2022-23||11/17||fat, succulent, obvious|
|***||Laudun Chusclan Vignerons Corrèges||2019||11/17||soft n’easy, tidy|
|***||Didier Morion Vent d'Anges||2022||12/18||sturdy, structured, firm end|
|***||Ogier Antoine Ogier Côte Chéry||2022-23||02/18||traditional fat, power; bit short|
|***||Maison Christophe Pichon||2021||03/18||direct, buoyant, straightforward|
|**(*)||Jeantet Laurent Le Secret de Pline||2023||12/18||cool, angular, lacks ripeness|
The star of the show at CROZES-HERMITAGE in 2016 is the northern sector, with some marvellous, high pedigree wines drawing from the granite and loess soils to be found in the villages of CROZES-HERMITAGE, SERVES-SUR-RHÔNE, GERVANS and ÉRÔME. They sparkle with terrific fruit quality, and run along excellent fresh lines, and should form part of any true RHÔNE enthusiast’s cellar.
Names such as ROUSSET, FAYOLLE FILS & FILLE, M CHAPOUTIER for their LES VARONNIERS, and the traditional NICOLAS FAYOLLE should all be sought, therefore. The CAVE DE TAIN also introduced a brace of good northern sector wines this year for the first time, the **** NORD, taken from vineyards at TAIN, GERVANS and CROZES-HERMITAGE, and the ***(*) GERVANS VITRINE.
Elsewhere, quality is more variable; across the southern sector there are some wines that are banal, low on interest. Such wines struggle for mid-palate depth, and lack cohesion. I got the impression that merchants buying outside wine didn’t have a great selection this year, so these sources can entail modest wines that will be worth swerving if you are looking for repsectable, keenly priced wines.
Where the southern sector is good, it’s ebullient, full of beans, with plenty of immediate fruit to enjoy. The top notchers are stylish and well filled, ****(*) wines such as the DELAS DOMAINE DES GRANDS CHEMINS and the also ****(*) FERRATION LE GRAND COURTIL, along with a couple of real beauties from LES VINS DE VIENNE, whose range did very well in 2016 – their ****(*) AMPHORE D’ARGENT (all the more commendable since it’s their classic cuvée) and their ****(*) LES PALIGNONS.
A weather and growing season check was given to me by SÉBASTIEN CHEVROL of DOMAINE MICHELAS ST JEMMS, where quality has been steadily rising over the past six years or so; the domaine stands on the western edge of MERCUROL, on LES CHASSIS. “The year was all over the place, not constant,” he related. “The winter was mild, and spring brought a lot of rain. Up until the end of June we had rain and cold weather. By early July we had had a lot of mildew in May and June, but not too much oïdium.
From mid-July the rains backed off. So the year started as a catastrophe, with the vineyard late to ripen. We started to catch up after the fine late summer weather, but by early September, with no recent rain at all, we had drought stress. The early September rain unblocked the vines, and we ended up starting to harvest the CROZES white on 16 September, and the SYRAH on 19 September.
To give you an idea, our CROZES ROUSSANNE we harvested on 29 August in 2015, and on 24 September in 2016. For the reds, we finished CORNAS on 1 October, HERMITAGE on 8 October and SAINT-JOSEPH on 10 October. Vinifications went off rapidly.”
DAVID REYNAUD, the talented owner of the biodynamic DOMAINE LES BRUYÈRES at BEAUMONT-MONTEUX gave this rundown: “the spring was early but complicated, with big mildew pressure. From early August the weather became good, and September was super. We harvested from 25 September until 5 October – it was a late year, but the yield was good, 45 hl/ha, against 36 hl/ha in 2017. It’s a very joli year, quite fine, on freshness, spice and fine tannins.”
YANN CHAVE’s vineyards are mainly at MERCUROL and PONT DE L’ISÈRE, the southernmost commune, also described the early travails: “at the end of June it was a catastrophe, pressure of mildew, a terrible outlook. At the end of June we were staring at a 2008 or 2002. But then July was OK, with dry weather that lasted until 20-25 October [when it rained a lot], while August was hot.
By the end of August, the veraison (grapes changing colour) was uneven, and there was even some drought stress after it had been so wet earlier in the year. September was exceptional, with the North wind following the mid-September rain, and drying the bunches well. The harvest was healthy by the end, even if it resulted in being a late harvest. We had 30 mm (1.2 inches) of rain between 15 and 20 September, which released the vines. We ended on Friday 7 October. We were at 12.9° to 13.4°.
At my most optimistic 2016 is like 2012, at my most pessimistic it is like 2011. Obviously, it’s not up to 2015 – it holds less matter than both 2015 and 2017, is more fine than those two vintages. The reds are supple, clear and crisp, have colour, fine tannins, will please and drink easily. Yields were normal, 40 to 45 hl/ha.”
For a view from the northern, often granite sector which was so successful, STÉPHANE ROUSSET of DOMAINE ROUSSET recounted: “ripening took time, and we harvested quite late. At first it was a fresh, rainy summer and more work than usual was needed on the vineyard – dropping leaves, for instance. We ended the harvest in October. 2016 sits between two hot vintages, and gives finesse, elegance. There is a belle freshness, more than usual, and the tension from the granite came through. We had a full yield, 45 hl/ha, with 2017 not far off the same quantity.” His LES PICAUDIÈRES from perhaps the best lieu-dit in all of CROZES-HERMITAGE was a noble ***** wine this year, a real winner.
Across the range of over 90 2016s that I have tasted here and there, I received the feeling that this was not always an easy vintage, with few outstanding wines. It often comes across as a year for restaurant or bistrot drinking, toot, toot. There are quite a few perfumed wines.
Among the southern sector wines of ***(*) or better, there is often a good, natural freshness and verve. It is a northern rather than southern vintage in shape and make-up.
Among domaines to note this year, I would signal the organic DOMAINE LES 4 VENTS of sisters LUCIE and NANCY FOUREL, formerly called the DOMAINE DE LUCIE before NANCY joined her sister. Their three wines were headed by the ****(*) SAINT JAIMES, backed by the **** DOMAINE LES 4 VENTS and the **** LES PITCHOUNETTES, wines from MERCUROL and LES CHASSIS. The sisters make wines that are there to be drunk and enjoyed, without fanfare, so their drinking window is often up to around six years.
I would also put in a good word for the low profile DOMAINE GAYLORD MACHON based at BEAUMONT-MONTEUX. Started in 2011 after being at the CAVE DE TAIN, quality has been rising recently on their staple cuvée, the GHANY, which this year was a **** wine. A new cuvée, the ***(*) LHONY, held stylish black fruit, even if it was rather rigid and encased by oaking.
On a stylistic note, I have to lament a couple of NEW WAVE reds which have been made to express restraint, tension, to be “Burgundian”, perhaps. On the one hand, there is the ****(*) FAYOLLE FILS & FILLE LES CORNIRETS VIEILLES VIGNES – smoke, freshness, blood, truth – taken from a small plot of 1940s SYRAH on fine granite, brown loess soils.
On the other come two wines that have to be described as “trendy”, fashion victims. M CHAPOUTIER have track form in this regard, more often on their whites, but it’s also disappointing that DAVID REYNAUD has gone down this path with his ***(*) GEORGES VIGNES AUTHENTIQUES, which is aromatic, fine but rather stripped back. The ***(*) CHAPOUTIER LES MEYSONNIERS is not one of their special cuvées, one up from the merchant [purchased wine and crop] PETITE RUCHE; it is pared back, direct and tight, not fleshy.
For the most part, 2016 is a vintage to get on and drink at CROZES. The fullest wines will live for 10 to 12 years.
|*****||Stéphane Rousset Les Picaudières||2027-29||11/17||cool elegance, noble, STGT|
|****(*)||Domaine Combier Clos des Grives||2028-30||03/18||sensuous, stylish, detailed, charm|
|****(*)||Delas Domaine des Grands Chemins||2027-28||11/17||stylish, graceful, balanced|
|****(*)||Fayolle Fils & Fille Clos Les Cornirets||2025-27||11/17||smoke, freshness, blood, v true|
|****(*)||Ferraton Père & Fils Le Grand Courtil||2028-30||11/17||stylish, tasty, mini Hermitage|
|****(*)||Domaine Alain Graillot La Guiraude||2036-38||12/18||gd heart, layered content, long|
|****(*)||Dom P & V Jaboulet Nouvelère||2026-28||11/17||robust, fluid, genuine, impressive|
|****(*)||Domaine Les 4 Vents Saint Jaimes||2022-23||11/17||energetic; sparky fruit, vivacity|
|****(*)||Les Vins de Vienne Amphore d’Argent||2021-22||11/17||classy fruit, serene, convincing|
|****(*)||Les Vins de Vienne Les Palignons||2024-25||11/17||gras depth, great length|
|****||Aléofane||2021-22||11/17||plump, perfumed, bounteous|
|****||Domaine Belle Cuvée Louis Belle||2024-26||11/17||richness, oak, southern notes|
|****||Cave de Clairmont Classique||2020-21||11/17||bounding fruit, cool, w.o.w.|
|****||Cave de Tain Nord||2027-29||11/17||nice weight, interest, lift|
|****||M Chapoutier Les Varonniers||2025-27||11/17||stylish, precise, long, oaked|
|****||Yann Chave||2023-24||11/17||subtle, understated; fine fruit|
|****||Yann Chave Le Rouvre||2022-24||11/17||inky, oily, pedigree, oak|
|****||Domaine Les Chenêts||2024-25||11/17||mineral, rockiness, layered|
|****||Dom du Colombier Cuvée Gaby||2023-24||11/17||good juice, poise, purity|
|****||Dard & Ribo Les Bâties||2028-29||11/18||v fine fruit, dentelle, aromatic|
|****||Emmanuel Darnaud Au Fil du Temps||2023-24||11/17||lissom, harmony, pedigree|
|****||Emmanuel Darnaud Les Trois Chênes||2023-24||11/17||stylish, sleek, full|
|****||Olivier Dumaine La Croix du Verre||2024-25||11/17||thorough, guarded, serious, time|
|****||Fayolle Fils & Fille Les Pontaix||2022-23||11/17||detailed fruit, energy, interest|
|****||J-Claude et Nicolas Fayolle Nicolas||2024-26||11/17||bosky, dark, lusty, trad|
|****||J-Claude et Nicolas Fayolle Rochette||2022-23||11/17||stylish fruit, energy, length|
|****||Laurent & Céline Fayolle Sens||2023-24||11/17||stylish fruit, cool, sparky|
|****||Ferraton Père & Fils Les Pichères||2025-26||11/17||juicy, fresh, en finesse|
|****||Domaine Gaylord Machon Ghany||2021-22||11/17||grilled, meaty, salt freshness|
|****||Domaine Alain Graillot||2034-36||12/18||high interest, structure, style|
|****||Domaine Laurent Habrard Valerie||2021||11/17||perfumed, soft, neat, likeable|
|****||Dom des Hauts Châssis Les Châssis||2021-22||11/17||sweet, musky, voluptuous|
|****||Dom des Hauts Châssis Les Galets||2021-22||11/17||sensuous, jolly; rolling gras|
|****||Domaine des Lises||2027-29||12/18||fruit sparkle, floral, very joli|
|****||Domaine des Lises Vignes Franches||2029-31||12/18||rocking wine, cool, interesting|
|****||Domaine Melody Friandise||2023-24||11/17||weighted, robust, scale, table|
|****||Domaine Melody Premier Regard||2022-24||11/17||stylish, elegant, quality juice|
|****||Dom Michelas St Jemms Chasselière||2024-25||11/17||tight, crunchy, oaking, time|
|****||Dom Michelas St Jemms Signature||2022-23||11/17||fruit filled, broad, vigorous|
|****||Domaine Les 4 Vents||2022||11/17||fine richness, stylish, class, STGT|
|****||Dom Les 4 Vents Les Pitchounettes||2023-24||11/17||firm, wide, plenty, good flow|
|****||Dom des Remizières Christophe||2023-24||11/17||clear, stylish, polished, flair|
|****||David Reynaud Les Croix V Vignes||2026-27||12/18||dashing fruit, balance, perfume|
|****||Stéphane Rousset||2025-27||11/17||sinew, freshness, true Crozes N|
|****||Jean-Baptiste Souillard Les Bâties||2026-27||11/17||floral, soft, style, balance|
|****||Dom de la Ville Rouge Paul||2029-31||11/18||tasty, smooth, fresh, approachable|
|****||Dom de la Ville Rouge Terre d’Eclat||2022-23||11/17||wholesome, gd style, content|
|****||Vins de Vienne Lieu-Dit Les Grappiats||2023-24||11/17||fleshy content, wholesome, solid|
|***(*)||Domaine Les Alexandrins||2025-26||03/18||good heart, richness; character|
|***(*)||Alleno & Chapoutier Guer Van||2021-22||11/17||tarry, fresh, drinkable|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Gervans Vitrine||2026-27||11/17||delicate rose richness, mineral|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Les Hauts du Fief||2021-22||11/17||enjoyable richness|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Pialoux||2023-24||11/17||sleek, generous, STGT|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Saviaux||2024-25||11/17||steady weight, dark, detail|
|***(*)||Domaine Belle Les Pierrelles||2022-23||11/17||neat, clarity, freshness|
|***(*)||Domaine Breyton Tradition||2021||12/18||style, lucid; main card is purity|
|***(*)||Domaine Les Bruyères Georges||2022-23||02/18||aromatic, fine, clear, N Wave|
|***(*)||Julien Cecillon Les Marguerites||2022-23||11/17||sweet, polished, perfumed, detail|
|***(*)||M Chapoutier Les Meysonniers||2023-24||11/17||tight, cool, direct, New Wave|
|***(*)||Domaine du Colombier||2021||11/17||easy, graceful, straightforward|
|***(*)||Domaine Combier||2020-21||11/17||gentle perfume, soft, genuine|
|***(*)||Laurent Combier Cap Nord||2024-25||03/18||tasty, fine, elegant, iodine|
|***(*)||Domaine Courbis Au Beau Séjour||2021||11/17||bright, intense fruit, iron|
|***(*)||Emmanuel Darnaud Mise en Bouche||2021||11/17||perfumed, savoury, lithe|
|***(*)||Ferraton Père & Fils Calendes||2022-23||11/17||tender, detailed, aromatic|
|***(*)||Domaine Jeanne Gailllard||2021||11/17||concentrated juice, free drink|
|***(*)||Domaine Gaylord Machon Lhony||2023||11/17||stylish fruit, firm, oaked|
|***(*)||Laurent Habrard Un Vigneron Heureux||2021||11/17||sweet, plump, fat, obvious|
|***(*)||Dom des Hauts Châssis Esquisse||2021||11/17||perfumed, musky, late saltiness|
|***(*)||Dom P & V Jaboulet Cuvée Clémence||2023-24||11/17||lazy elegance, pure ease|
|***(*)||Marrenon Les Belles Échappées||2021||11/17||cosy gras, agreeable length|
|***(*)||Gabriel Meffre Saint-Pierre||2022-23||11/17||lively, drinkable, neat richness|
|***(*)||Domaine Melody Etoile Noire||2022-23||11/17||savoury, supple|
|***(*)||Michelas St Jemms Fleur de Syrahne||2023-24||11/17||copious, obvious, sweet, perfume|
|***(*)||Dom Michelas St Jemms Terres d’Arce||2024-25||11/17||tasty beat, modern, oaking|
|***(*)||Etienne Pochon||2021||11/17||neat richness, lucid, free|
|***(*)||E Pochon Château Curson||2024-25||11/17||plenty body, soaked, damp|
|***(*)||Domaine des Remizières Particulière||2021||11/17||pure, well presented, bonny|
|***(*)||Marc Sorrel||2022-23||11/17||enjoyable, clear, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Jean-Baptiste Souillard||2026-27||11/17||tasty juice, tension, rocky|
|***(*)||J-Baptiste Souillard Les Habrards||2027-28||11/17||firm, good mass, time|
|***||Maison Les Alexandrins||2022-23||03/18||tender fruit, perfectly agreeable|
|***||Guillaume Belle||2022-23||11/17||crunchy, smoky, bit ponderous|
|***||Louis Bernard||2022-23||11/17||sleek fruit, oak varnish|
|***||Domaine Breyton Fût de Chêne||2022||12/18||gd quality fruit with an oak mask|
|***||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2020||11/17||neat fruits, low declaration|
|***||Cave de Tain Grappiat||2019||11/17||
easy texture, mild
|***||Cave de Tain Vin Biologique||2025-27||11/17||stewed fruits, thick|
|***||Laurent Combier||2022||11/17||smoky, dark, bit taut|
|***||J. Denuzière Les Terrasses||2020-21||11/17||clear, low-key|
|***||Ferraton Père & Fils La Matinière||2020-21||11/17||light, smooth, quaffing wine|
|***||Dom Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet||2023-24||11/17||suave, dark, upbeat, dry end|
|***||Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne||2022||03/18||simple, fragrant, not deep|
|***||Domaine des Martinelles||2024-25||11/18||quiet, elegant, lacks stuffing|
|***||Dom des Martinelles Les Coteaux||2026-28||11/18||firm core, aromatic, but dips in it|
|***||Domaine Mucyn Les Entrecoeurs||2021||11/17||spice, perfume, bit hollow|
|***||Ogier Les Paillanches||2022-23||11/17||thickness, oak, time|
tasty, juicy, bit tame
|***||Domaine Pradelle Courbis||2022-23||11/17||chunky, solid, bit plain|
|***||Vidal-Fleury||2022-23||11/17||cool, quiet, orderly|
|***||Dom de la Ville Rouge Inspiration||2021||11/17||plump, fatness, workmanlike|
|**(*)||Romaine Duvernay||2020||11/17||easy content, brief, bitter|
|**(*)||equis equinoxe||2020||11/17||loose delivery, functional|
|**(*)||Gabriel Meffre Laurus||2022-23||11/17||mainstream, oak, modest|
|**||Dom Pradelle Les Hirondelles||2021||11/17||bitter, drifts, escapist|
VIEW FROM L'HERMITE DOWN TOWARDS LE MÉAL, THE HERMITAGE ZONES BADLY HIT BY THE APRIL 2016 HAIL. NOTE THE SWEEP OF THE RHÔNE DOWN TO CRUSSOL, THE SOUTHERNMOST PART OF THE SAINT-JOSEPH APPELLATION
I rate 2016 at HERMITAGE as a good vintage, but not a stunning one. For some, the dye was cast early in the year when, on 17 April, 2016, a band of hail swept across the upper half of the hill, sticking to it almost as glue, and ravaging the climats of L’HERMITE, notably, along with LE MÉAL, LES ROCOULES and LES MURETS, the latter two best known for their white variety vineyards.
There was no come back from this, so the result was lowered yields, but also bumpy quality if some of the scarred vines were left to produce as per normal. Life was rendered complicated from an early stage, but it’s worth remembering that while this hail was pretty severe, life was even worse for growers across the north of France who suffered catastrophic frost during April, 2016.
APRIL HAIL LEFT A BIG SCAR
JACQUES DESVERNOIS, the winemaker at PAUL JABOULET AÎNÉ recounted: “we had 17 April hail on L’HERMITE, LE MÉAL and above all on LES ROCOULES, LES MURETS also [the latter two especially noted for their white quality]. The high parts of the hill were hit. Half the crop was lost on these sites. The vine restarted, but without bunches. Ten days after the hail, the vines hadn’t budged. We will have just 20% of the usual crop from LES ROCOULES.”
DAMIEN BRISSET, who has been driving quality forward at FERRATON PÈRE & FILS gave this summary of the year in the vineyard: “it was a very summery year, a lot of sun, with belle heat, sometimes high around 35°C in July and at the end of August, with 33°C in early September also.
A LATE HARVEST
So it was a long, hot summer from the end of June until mid-September. Despite that, it was a late harvest, with all our HERMITAGE picked in October. Frankly, it was hard to understand why it was so late. The reds are very well coloured, have good structure, marked acidity. Fresh nights from mid-September and cooler and cooler weather after that were a help. There is bit more crop generally across our vineyards than in 2015, except for HERMITAGE, where we were hit by the hail on 17 April: we lost 65% of our own FERRATON HERMITAGE crop.”
An extended ripening season can often translate into wines that need time to come along and to fuse. This may be the case for the 2016s. There is a general signature of dark robes, and harmony is the watchword for the best of them.
PROFILE OF THE WINES
There is sound depth across the wines, but they aren’t real attention grabbers. I think they were also in the early stages of transition after a year and a bit. Tannins are ripe, and fit in well over pretty much the whole range. Bouquets can show dampness, some evolution already. It is possible that they can expand with time, but for crystalline qualities, 2016 at CÔTE-RÔTIE is more interesting than HERMITAGE.
Regarding the work of the growers in their blending, however, I feel that they had some latitude this year to play with nuance in the wines. Such artistry wasn't so much on the agenda in 2015, when the main focus had to be to achieve balance from the extremely ripe, sometimes sun-baked crop.
MÉAL DID WELL
Across the climats, I would signal that MÉAL, despite receiving hail high up, has performed well for its SYRAH. It provides bingo heart where applicable, and, given the vintage profile, a moderated elegance comes through. The ***** FERRATON LE MÉAL was a good example of this, while the **** M CHAPOUTIER LE MÉAL isn’t as big and dense as it can be, delivering a resolute gras richness with some swish.
MÉAL COMPARED TO L'HERMITE
At the CAVE DE TAIN, I tasted their 2016 MÉAL and 2016 L’HERMITE as climat-specific wines, prior to their blending into the GAMBERT DE LOCHE HERMITAGE red. This illustrated the difference this year between the two climats:
2016 CAVE DE TAIN LE MÉAL RED: ****(*) (casks) sturdy dark red. The bouquet is broad, well-filled, even packed, with a cluster of berry fruits, backed by a meaty depth. The palate has a surging style, delivers rolling waves of red fruits with a thick juice at their centre, continues well and evenly into the close. There is good dash in this, a convincing, nicely abundant and pretty sustained Méal. From 2021. 2033-35 Nov 2017
CAVE DE TAIN L’HERMITE RED: ***(*) (casks) dark red, full robe. There is an oily intensity on the nose, sizzled bacon, bright, nicely rich cooked red fruits, oaking behind. The palate displays attractive, fluid red-fruited content, stylish tannins. It ends just a little parched, which needs sorting out with time. There is a baked note on the aftertaste, also. It has an urge to show a musky, rose hip presence, a trim detail from that. From mid-2020, not before. 2032-34 Nov 2017
XAVIER FROUIN, cellarmaster at the CAVE DE TAIN, felt that the “terroir expression was clear this year, so differences come through.”
LES BESSARDS: AN INTERESTING PINOT NOIR CONNECTION
LES BESSARDS was interesting this year, the most markedly granite climat of them all, apart from LES GRANDES VIGNES (more westerly facing, high up) and VAROGNE (very cool, windswept, faces CROZES-HERMITAGE, lesser climat). Both the BERNARD FAURIE BESSARDS - a cuvée that BERNARD introduced in 2015 - and the CHAPOUTIER LE PAVILLON showed PINOT NOIR associations. The phrase "Ça Pinote" turns up in some of my tastings with vignerons, denoting an elegance and indeed a genuine connection to the PINOT being manifested. This never occurs in the beefiest vintages.
DODGING THE HAIL PAID OFF
Another derivative of the hail band is that vineyards to the west of where it first hit on L’HERMITE – LES BESSARDS and LES GRANDES VIGNES – did well, and vineyards below its band – LES GREFFIEUX, LES DIOGNIÈRES – also performed well. The **** DOMAINE DES REMIZIÈRES CUVÉE ÉMILIE is formed of 75% mid-1970s SYRAH from LES GRANDES VIGNES, topped up with what was a very small contribution this year from LES ROCOULES.
The ****(*) M CHAPOUTIER LES GREFFIEUX was one of the most grounded, inky wines of the vintage, a real child of the hill, while the also ****(*) FERRATON PÈRE ET FILS LES DIONNIÈRES held a stylish, velvety elegance that I associate with this serene climat.
THE CORE ELEGANCE OF THE YEAR
The core elegance of the vintage was commented upon by BERNARD FAURIE, who explained: “2016 has a Nordic tendency, as did 2014. The style would suit new oak this year. It’s all on finesse, elegance. It’s rare for Hermitage to have this amount of finesse.”
Taking the two HERMITAGE REDs from MARC SORREL, I found the class divide narrower than usual. MARC’s reply to this observation was that “the yield effect has closed the gap, unlike in 2011, when there was a very big difference.”
THE BEST 2016S CAN BE SUPERB, BUT GENERAL QUALITY HIGHER IN 2015
JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE referred to the deeper quality spectrum than the everywhere successful 2015, when telling me: “in 2016, what will be grand will be superb, whereas in 2015 everything was good up to a certain level; 2015 was a bit like 1990 in quantity, with the foundation good across all the wines.” I suspect that the blending of his 2016 will be a most stimulating exercise for him, drawing out the nuances from climats of different levels of quality this year.
Wines that will live for fifteen years, plus a bit, and the best that will live for 20+years therefore in 2016. Purchase in magnum would suit, given a sing-song result is likely after 10 to 12 years.
|*****||Bernard Faurie Greffieux-Bessards-Méal||2039-42||11/17||great finesse, silken, long|
|*****||Ferraton Père et Fils Le Méal||2039-42||11/17||gentle, orchestrated, STGT|
|****(*)||Cave de Tain Gambert de Loche||2032-35||11/17||neat gras, pedigree, intricate|
|****(*)||M Chapoutier Les Greffieux||2033-36||11/17||dark body, grounded, thick|
|****(*)||M Chapoutier Le Pavillon||2034-36||11/17||reserved, stylish, Pinot-esque|
|****(*)||Domaine Jean-Louis Chave||2040-43||03/18||cool fruit, good nerve, pure fruit|
|****(*)||Delas Domaine des Tourettes||2033-36||11/17||crunch, iron, western darkness|
|****(*)||Bernard Faurie Les Bessards||2037-40||11/17||finesse, style, Pinot-esque|
|****(*)||Bernard Faurie Les Greffieux-Bessards||2044-46||12/18||verve, detail, suave feel, true|
|****(*)||Ferraton Père et Fils Les Dionnières||2035-37||11/17||elegant, genuine, stylish, velvet|
|****||Maison Les Alexandrins||2034-36||03/18||stylish depth, bright, vigour|
|****||Cave de Tain Vin Biologique||2030-33||11/17||silken, flair, clear tannins|
|****||M Chapoutier L’Ermite||2031-33||11/17||cool, spartan, lithe freshness|
|****||M Chapoutier Le Méal||2033-35||11/17||resolute gras, rounded, full|
|****||M Chapoutier Monier de la Sizeranne||2033-36||11/17||broad, sturdy, manly, chunky|
|****||Domaine du Colombier||2030-32||11/17||enjoyable fruit, intricate, subtle|
|****||Dard & Ribo||2041-43||11/18||intricate, fresh rockster vin, STGT|
|****||J. Denuzière||2029-31||11/17||shapely, gd heart, Pinot-esque|
|****||Bernard Faurie Bessards-Méal||2036-38||11/17||elegance, stuffing, squeezy|
|****||Ferraton Père et Fils Les Miaux||2032-35||11/17||med weight; flexible tannin|
|****||Domaine des Martinelles||2039-41||11/18||fluid, consecutive, fine, drinkable|
|****||Dom des Remizières Cuvée Émilie||2032-34||11/17||copious, immediate, sleek; oak|
|****||JMB Sorrel Le Vignon||2029-31||11/17||purity, harmony, Pinote, w.o.w.|
|****||Marc Sorrel||2034-36||11/17||rich, fluid, fresh lining|
|****||Marc Sorrel Le Gréal||2037-39||11/17||continuous without great depth|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2029-31||11/17||sound heart, squeezy content|
|***(*)||Yann Chave||2029-31||11/17||curvy, supple, smooth, easy|
|***(*)||Gabriel Meffre Laurus||2030-33||11/17||med weight, aroma, some style|
|***(*)||Vidal-Fleury||2029-31||11/17||tight, clean, modern|
|***||Domaine Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet||2027-29||11/17||ripe fruit, OK but pedestrian|
|**(*)||Dom Michelas St Jemms Terres d’Arce||2028-29||11/17||med weight, pretty basic|
THE CLAY-CHALK AND GLACIER STONES OF ROCOULES, MARC SORREL'S TOP WHITE HERMITAGE BLANC
The richness and depth of the 2016 Hermitage whites are wondrous to behold. It is a year when one falls to one’s knees at the temple of southern bounty, delivered with the all-important inner elegance of which only HERMITAGE is capable across the RHÔNE. Now, a magnum of the 2016 for the desert island, that would do very nicely, thank you.
With hail across L’HERMITE, the harvest was badly hit in places. As MARC SORREL reported: “I had a much reduced crop – 10 hl/ha, so 600 b instead of 1,500 b. We harvested ROCOULES on a normal date, so this has finesse, tension. My HERMITAGE BLANC, the classic, was picked on over-ripeness on 20 September, since the yield was a very low 20 hl/ha, half the usual, so there were 600 bottles instead of 1,500 bottles. It resembles 2003 [I agree], and is an original, unusual wine.”
The hail damaged two of the best white vineyards outside L'HERMITE [another is MAISON BLANCHE]. JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE reported: “I lost 70% of my white crop, which was down to the hail – PÉLÉAT and ROCOULES, notably." CAROLINE FREY of PAUL JABOULET AÎNÉ was in a similar position: “the hail hit our vineyards on LES MURETS, the top of LE MÉAL and LES ROCOULES," she told me. XAVIER FROUIN of the CAVE DE TAIN confirmed that they had lost 60% of their harvest on MAISON BLANCHE, as well as on BEAUMES.
So, despite the losses of harvest, this is a cracking vintage for HERMITAGE BLANC. It holds Rock on Tommy fullness, length, richness. To some extent, I am reminded of 2004 due to the very good combination of stylish content with lines of freshness; 2016 would be a little richer overall.
The class comes through via the restraint, minerality towards the finish on the wines, after all the early excitement of abundant generosity. It’s a wonderful year for those used to presenting full, table-friendly Hermitage blanc. If the over fashionable “tension” and restraint were sought, an opportunity was missed.
The CHAPOUTIER HERMITAGE whites had made excellent progress between April and November, 2017, a real blossoming and gain in rich beauty. However, LE MÉAL of CHAPOUTIER I feel was hampered by deliberate attempts to rein it in: it was one of those that hadn’t marched forwards between April and November, 2017, remaining a slightly deceiving **** wine.
From the CAVE DE TAIN came this appraisal from cellar-master XAVIER FROUIN [note the T word - tension - in his summary: “it’s a good, classic vintage, with wines that hold tension. I perhaps expected them to be more aromatic. Lees stirring was important to re-balance them on the palate.”
The life span for this great vintage will exceed fifteen years, although I make that remark with some caution now that New Wave tendencies are coming in, with pseudo freshness also bolstered by high levels of carbonic gas. In the past, a vintage like this would have lived for 25 years, but I am not so sure now.
As JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE was in the USA when I visited MAUVES, his 2016 will be tasted during 2018. I remain persona non grata at PAUL JABOULET AÎNÉ, so am not sure if I will come across their white 2016, unless I don a false beard and wear a homburg hat.
|******||M Chapoutier L’Ermite||2036-39||11/17||rich, graceful, wonderful, STGT|
|*****||M Chapoutier Chante-Alouette||2038-41||11/17||delicious, v intense, deeply rich|
|*****||M Chapoutier De l’Orée||2032-35||11/17||handsome, complex, long, ric|
|****(*)||Domaine Jean-Louis Chave||2036-39||03/18||fine, firm, spinal, intricate|
|****(*)||Gabriel Meffre Laurus||2029-32||11/17||striking, rich, generous|
|****(*)||Marc Sorrel Les Rocoules||2038-40||11/17||silken, intricate, fresh|
|****||Maison Les Alexandrins||2028-30||03/18||silky, fluid, polished; fresh touches|
|****||Cave de Tain Coeur des Siècles||2034-36||12/18||fat, tasty, fulfilling, good depth|
|****||M Chapoutier Le Méal||2030-33||11/17||discreet, elegant, grapey, fine|
|****||Delas Domaine des Tourettes||2030-32||11/17||easy richness, stylish|
|****||Bernard Faurie||2033-36||11/17||strength, style, restraint, fresh|
|****||Ferraton Le Reverdy||2031-33||02/18||elegant richness, fine juice|
|****||Domaine Laurent Habrard||2030-32||11/17||fat, constant, hidden corners|
|****||Dom Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet||2029-31||11/17||continuous, neat richness, interest|
|****||Domaine des Martinelles||2034-36||11/18||comfy gras, slow mover, trad|
|****||Marc Sorrel||2036-38||11/17||ground force, thick coating|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Beaume||2033-34||11/17||solid gras; dumb, textured|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2031-33||12/18||likeable freshness, gentle finish|
|***(*)||Domaine Belle||2029-30||11/17||floral, gentle appeal, reserved|
|***(*)||Ferraton Les Miaux||2030-31||11/17||smoky, mineral, restrained|
|***(*)||P Jaboulet Aîné Chevalier Stérimberg||2034-36||12/18||soft, elegant, savoury, textured|
GENALE, WITHOUT MILDEW, JULY 2017
CORNAS continues its dashing progress in 2016. It is just about the hottest appellation in the northern RHÔNE, if not the whole RHÔNE now, with prices escalating at a cosmic rate. Having previously held a hard core following, an underground movement conducted by whispers and nudges, it is now under the beaming gaze of the international fashionistas.
For better or worse, this brings much increased pressure to perform across a broad spectrum of growers; there must be both breadth and depth of quality. 2016 furnishes that, inspired by bubbling, live fruit and generally stylish tannins. If, in a vintage such as 2014, there were some light cuvées, issued by growers aiming for a boost to cash flow, in 2016 everyone seems to have taken the vintage seriously, and there are well-filled, genuine wines. It’s a very good year.
The fact that most of the wines tasted [so far] have been **** or above is indeed a good sign for what is a very good vintage. I fear that some wines will be drunk way too early, all on primary fruit rather than bearing any additional and rewarding secondary prompts, so, you at the back of the class, please try to restrain yourself! The wines will live well, since they are fresh.
ANNE COLOMBO [whose wines I will be tasting in 2018] explained the ripening season to me, one that came with some difficulties and challenges: “it’s been a complicated year via having rain every week between mid-May and mid-June – which isn’t good if you are organic. There was a mildew alert all over the vineyards. We then had no rain after mid-June until mid-August, and were on the cusp of drought in August, when we were far away from ripening.”
Unfortunately for me, VINCENT PARIS did not treat his vineyards on GENALE [where I own a few old SERINE vines] assiduously enough, and succumbed to mildew, as he informed me: “my yield this year was affected by mildew on the GENALE vineyard, where I harvested only 18 hl/ha. The GRANIT 60 yield was 24-25 hl/ha, the GRANIT 30 35 hl/ha. It’s a fresher vintage than 2015, is well-fruited.”
Back to ANNE COLOMBO: “high heat lasted from mid-July to mid-September, with a lot of days around 30°C in September,” she explained. “In fact, there was blockage on ripening by early September – the tannins were halted, the phenolic ripening stationary. In the end, we had some plots at 13°, but without fully ripened phenolics. The rain that broke the drought was around the middle of September, the weekend of 17-18 when we had two falls of 10 mm (0.4 inch).”
Balance and high grade fruit caught the attention of growers this year. OLIVIER CLAPE reported: “the belle matter comes from super balance this year,” while STÉPHANE ROBERT of DOMAINE DU TUNNEL concurred: “it’s quite a concentrated vintage, with very good balance. I only had to chaptalize one vat where the plot in question had experienced a blockage in the ripening. My average is 13.5° this year.”
2016 is a style of vintage that pleases THIÉRRY ALLEMAND, and he gave this opinion: “the colour isn’t very concentrated, but there’s volume in the wines – they are rounded, fine, like 2011 – easy to drink. I started my harvest on 12 September; the pHs are a bit higher, the degree lower than usual this year, like 2000, and also 2012. The yield was like 2015’s. They are all facile, round wines with grip, quiet firmness. It’s a vintage similar to 2004 and 2000, very fine and round, with no hard edges.”
LAURENT COURBIS was enthusiastic about his 2016 SABAROTTE wine, drawn from 1947 SERINE that used to belong to NOËL VERSET, when telling me: “we have a very belle SABAROTTE wine this year, very rich, full. The other plots are more fruited, less powerful than usual, but are good drinking wines. We bottled CHAMPELROSE in early December 2017, against February 2018, the normal date – that’s because it’s very aromatic, and tasted well at that time. We are bottling SABAROTTE and LES EYGATS in April 2018.”
The shape and texture of 2016 reflects more filigree than dense fabric when compared with 2015, but on a quality level PIERRE CLAPE had this to say: “2016 isn’t 2015, but is not far off it. Our degrees are 13.3° to 13.9°, quite high, but the alcohol seems enrobed inside the wines. There is decent yield also.”
Across the range tasted, 2016 colours are dark. There is plenty of rolling fruit, and enjoyable, open door richness. Tannins are very ripe, indeed smooth. I would expect the balance to allow many wines to live towards the 20-year marker, or further in some cases. They deserve to be served in large glasses to release the floral charms in their bouquets.
What is encouraging is that the base level of the wines is solid. CORNAS has become very popular recently, and the wines are still able to keep up with those expectations: CORNAS is on a roll!
|*****||Thiérry Allemand Reynard||2043-46||11/17||sensuous; great style, richness|
|****(*)||Thiérry Allemand Chaillot||2036-38||11/17||clear fruit, life, florality|
|****(*)||Franck Balthazar Chaillot||2034-36||03/18||sumptuous, belle, super fine, STGT|
|****(*)||Domaine Clape||2042-44||11/17||good heart, fresh, kicking|
|****(*)||Delas Chante-Perdrix||2032-34||11/17||compact content, long, dashing|
|****(*)||Dumien Serrette Patou||2031-34||11/17||dark, chutzpah, go-getter|
|****(*)||Dom Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet||2031-34||11/17||impressive fruit; genuine, interest|
|****(*)||Dom Johann Michel Cuvée Jana||2033-34||03/18||racy, beau, stylish charge, filled|
|****(*)||Dom Michelas St Jemms Terres Arce||2031-33||11/17||wholesome, genuine, gd heart|
|****(*)||Vincent Paris La Geynale||2030-33||11/17||smooth, wide, great rocky end|
|****(*)||Alain Voge Les Chaillés||2032-35||11/17||generous, lovely, complete, mineral|
|****||Franck Balthazar Casimir Balthazar||2027-28||03/18||fruit explosion, flowing, w.o.w.|
|****||Matthieu Barret Brise cailloux||2039-41||02/19||iron threads, spicing, good build|
|****||Mickaël Bourg Les p'tits bouts||2035-37||12/18||cool fruit, tangy tannin, authentic|
|****||Cave de Tain Arènes Sauvages||2030-33||11/17||sturdy, convincing, inner strength|
|****||M Chapoutier Les Arènes||2031-33||11/17||slow release, complete, trad|
|****||Aurélien Chatagnier||2030-32||11/17||handsome, authentic; swish fruits|
|****||Domaine Courbis La Sabarotte||2034-37||11/17||relaxed, true, tasty|
|****||Dumien Serrette Henri||2039-42||12/18||smoky, supple gras, Cornas cut, oak|
|****||Domaine Durand Confidence||2030-32||11/17||pure, tight, quality, potential|
|****||Ferraton Père & Fils Les Eygats||2033-36||11/17||mineral, sinew, red fruits|
|****||Ferraton Père & Fils Patou||2032-35||11/17||dash, colour, strength|
|****||Guillaume Gilles Chaillot||2035-37||12/18||floral, mineral, profound, energy|
|****||Jacques Lemenicier||2032-35||12/18||fruit quality, sympa, genuine|
|****||Domaine Lionnet Terre Brûlée||2039-42||12/18||direct, streamlined, naked, spinal|
|****||Vincent Paris Granit 60||2028-31||11/17||tasty, modern, finesse, fruit|
|****||Vincent Paris Granit 30||2027-29||11/17||floral, engaging, cavalier|
|****||Pic & Chapoutier Bio||2031-34||11/17||savoury, rocky, honest, STGT|
|****||Domaine du Tunnel||2031-34||11/17||style, plump, modern, careful|
|****||Les Vins de Vienne Les Barcillants||2029-31||11/17||good sweep, well shaped|
|****||Alain Voge Les Vieilles Vignes||2031-34||11/17||fine, tight, mineral, STGT|
|***(*)||Maison Les Alexandrins||2034-35||03/18||red fruits, unrefined tannins|
|***(*)||Matthieu Barret, Dom Coulet Ogre||2036-38||02/19||mobile, spiced, rocky, New Wave|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Vin Biologique||2028-30||11/17||squeezy texture, some mineral|
|***(*)||Stéphan Chaboud Vieilles Vignes||2031-32||12/18||live fruit main asset, easy drinking|
|***(*)||Domaine Clape Renaissance||2036-39||11/17||firm, direct, mineral|
|***(*)||Domaine Courbis Champelrose||2028-30||11/17||ebullient, salted, decent depth|
|***(*)||Domaine Courbis Les Eygats||2031-33||11/17||soft fruits, freshness|
|***(*)||Domaine J. Denuzière||2028-30||11/17||easy fruits, direct, clean|
|***(*)||Domaine Durand Empreintes||2030-33||11/17||solid length, slow gainer|
|***(*)||Domaine Durand Prémices||2028-30||11/17||cosy richness, sweet, open|
|***(*)||Guy Farge Harmonie||2028-29||11/17||supple gras, traditional, bit bumpy|
|***(*)||Pierre Gaillard||2028-30||11/17||traditional; lean over fat|
|***(*)||Domaine Lionnet Pur Granit||2032-34||12/18||tender, quiet fruit vibe, good iron|
|***(*)||Domaine Johann Michel||2028-29||03/18||plump appeal, charm, good flow|
|***(*)||Dom Johann Michel Mère Michel||2028-30||03/18||cool fruit, inky minerality|
|***(*)||Dom Michelas St Jemms Murettes||2030-33||11/17||openly juicy, fresh enough|
|***(*)||David Reynaud Rebelle||2034-36||12/18||intrinsic muscle, Cornas character|
|***(*)||Jean-Louis Thiers, Dom du Biguet||2035-37||12/18||fruit intensity, aromatic finish|
|***(*)||Alain Verset||2033-35||12/18||lively content, energy, authentic|
|***(*)||Vidal-Fleury||2029-30||11/17||serene content; fine, careful|
|***(*)||François Villard Jouvet||2036-38||12/18||modern, flashy, mineral, fresh|
|***(*)||Vins de Vienne Lieu-Dit Saint-Pierre||2028-30||11/17||fat, immediate, fleshy Syrah|
|***||Elie Bancel||2026-28||12/18||husky content, accessible, honest|
|***||Cave de Tain Grand Classique||2026-27||11/17||stewed fruits, workmanlike|
|***||Ferraton Père & Fils Grands Mûriers||2027-29||11/17||steady, mainstream, workmanlike|
|***||Guillaume Gilles Nouvelle R||2024-25||11/18||mild fruit, liberal juice, light Cornas|
|***||Domaine de Lorient||2030-32||12/18||aromatic, sleek, very modern school|
|***||Cave Pinheiro||2030-32||12/18||ample juice, floral, bit husky|
|***||Jean-Baptiste Souillard Saint-Pierre||2027-28||11/17||tight, streamlined, spartan|
|***||Louis Sozet||2025-27||12/18||tender, floral, light, likeable|
|**(*)||Bernard Blachon||2021-22||12/18||brewed fruit, fragrant, not fresh|
|**(*)||Paul Jaboulet Aîné Dom de St-Pierre||2034-36||12/18||spare frame, lean, not together|
|**(*)||Chrystelle Michel||2026-27||12/18||low-key, trad, needs more gras|
|**(*)||Domaine Mucyn Aquilon||2025-26||12/18||light, fleeting, toothsome|
|**(*)||Jean-Baptiste Souillard Les Côtes||2026-27||11/17||spare, stripped back, brittle|
|**||Domaine de Fauterie||2024-25||12/18||unsteady second half, stops short|
AUTUMN WORKING OF THE COLLINES RHODANIENNES SOILS ON THE PLATEAU ABOVE CONDRIEU, DOMAINE GEORGES VERNAY
As prices on the main wines rise, some of the best value in the northern Rhône comes from the old tactic of backing a grower who knows what he or she is doing, whatever the vintage. The same applies to their handling of the vineyards that usually stand just outside the main appellation zone. Hence up around CÔTE-RÔTIE and CONDRIEU, the source of these wines is generally another hillside that is less well exposed, or higher, or plateau vineyards that bear some of the granite of the hills when not too far inland.
The most exciting VIN DE PAYS is of course the SEYSSUEL vineyard just south of VIENNE, a sheer schist surface providing wines of great iron and grip, real pings of mineral freshness. A parallel with parts of the young Catalan vineyard of PRIORAT immediately springs to mind. As PRIORAT presses for its own cru system, graded wines according to place, so SEYSSUEL is going through the extremely long-winded process of rising from VIN DE PAYS DES COLLINES RHODANIENNES to CÔTES DU RHÔNE. Thence to SEYSSUEL on its own as a stand-alone appellation at some date in the future.
There are now nearly 20 growers at SEYSSUEL, and the wines please and impress me, before I look at their price. They are intricate, and will evolve and age extremely well, an impressive feat when one considers the youth of the vineyard.
Beyond those 2016s tasted and noted here, I would point to the VIN DE PAYS SYRAH of STÉPHANE PICHAT at CÔTE-RÔTIE as always being a good buy, a wine that can do well over seven to 10 years. Others to note are the organic, natural EMMANUEL BAROU SYRAH, the BONNEFOND, hard core organic JEAN-MICHEL STÉPHAN [VIN DE FRANCE] and NICOLAS CHAMPAGNEUX’s SYRAH. If you trust the grower’s quality, and are out in the RHÔNE – many of these wines are not exported – then fill the car with them.
For those readers who are involved in the CHR – Café Hotel Restaurant – Trade, I would particularly signal the w.o.w. wines, which present immediate, free-wheeling pleasure, and are likely to accompany a wide range of dishes with distinction: no questions asked, just get on and do.
The same overall comments on the SYRAH apply to VIOGNIER, often derived from vineyards that touch the appellation of CONDRIEU itself, given that it extends over the communes of CONDRIEU, VÉRIN, SAINT-MICHEL SUR RHÔNE, CHAVANAY [where the same vineyard can be CONDRIEU or SAINT-JOSEPH], MALLEVAL and, finally in the most southerly spur, LIMONY. The recurring theme of these vineyards is the granite content, which can be particularly rocky at MALLEVAL, for example.
Some favourites here are the BONNEFOND, ROSTAING and ANDRÉ PERRET VIOGNIERs, the XAVIER GÉRARD VIOGNIER, PASCAL MARTHOURET’s VIOGNIER, and, with FRANÇOIS VILLARD saying an understandable “to hell with the restrictions on VIN DE PAYS”, his VIN DE FRANCE VIOGNIERs. The YVES CUILLERON VIN DE FRANCE can be a bit too New Wave, therefore light and wispy at times, however – so take that trend into account. Again, back your judgment on a grower you like, and go for it. One note of caution on the Price-Quality ratio – these are relatively more expensive than the SYRAHs in my view.
|****||Domaine Jamet CdRh Syrah||2026-27||11/17||iron, purity, finesse|
|****||Domaine Jamet Vdp Coll Rh Syrah||2021||11/17||Rôtie DNA, floral, w.o.w.|
|****||Stéph Ogier Vdp Coll Rh Seyssuel Ame Soeur||2029-31||11/17||good depth, floral, iron|
|****||Vignoble Jean-Luc Jamet CdRh Htes Vignes||2026-27||03/18||engaging, sunny, appealing|
|***(*)||Domaine Clape CdRh r||2026-28||11/17||vibrant, clear, beau|
|***(*)||Domaine Courbis Vdp Coll Rh L’Aube Syrah||2021||11/17||fruit, detail, length|
|***(*)||Domaine Garon Vdp Coll Rh Syrah||2023||03/18||genuine, naked, clear, floral|
|***(*)||Jean-Michel Gérin VdFr La Champine Syrah||2021||11/17||brisk, clear fruit, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Guillaume Gilles VdFr Les Peyrouses red||2026-27||11/18||fruit verve, clear, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Dom Gonon VdP Ardèche Îles Feray Syrah||2023-24||03/18||joli gras; aromatic, character|
|***(*)||Domaine Jamet VdFr Plaisirs d’Harys r||2023-24||11/17||structure, darkness, mineral|
|***(*)||Dom Jasmin Vdp Coll Rh La Chevalière Syrah||2020||07/17||clarity, purity, spice, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Dom Monteillet VdP Coll Rh Hauts Monteillet||2023-24||03/18||character; upbeat, mineral|
|***(*)||Stéphane Ogier Vdp Coll Rh Syrah La Rosine||2026-27||11/17||juicy, good length|
|***(*)||Dom Rostaing Vdp Coll Rh Les Lézardes Syr||2027-28||11/17||tight, fresh, crunchy, tasty|
|***(*)||Eric & Laurence Texier VdFr Le Clau||2026-27||02/19||bright flow, plump, v bonny|
|***(*)||Dom G Vernay Vdp Coll Rh Fleurs Mai Syrah||2021||07/17||breezy, clear fruit, w.o.w.|
|***||Matthieu Barret CdRh No Wine's Land r||2022||02/18||tasty, immediate, bit wiry|
|***||Sébastien Blachon VdFr Nom de Bleu Syrah||2020||11/17||grain, freshness, natural|
|***||Christophe Blanc VdFr Syrah||2021||12/18||taut, tight, peppy, fresh|
|***||P & C Bonnefond VdFr Sensation Syrah||2022-23||03/18||tasty, neat, fleshy, w.o.w.|
|***||Cave de Tain Coll Rh Syrah Viognier r||2020||11/17||mineral grain; soft|
|***||Domaine Clape VdFr Le Vin des Amis||2024-26||11/17||tight, lucid, bit of gras|
|***||Dom Courbis Vdp Ardèche Syrah||2020||11/17||spice, floral, la table|
|***||Ferraton Père & Fils Vdp Ardèche Syrah||2020||11/17||lucid fruit; spice|
|***||Le Mas du Paradis VdFr Le 20 Eternel Syrah||2021||12/18||neat, tarry, sound country vin|
|***||François Merlin Vdp Coll Rh Syrah||2021||03/18||mild gras, gourmand wine|
|***||Dom Johann Michel VdFr Grain Noir Syrah||2024-25||03/18||red fruits, knuckle, crunch|
|***||Dom Monteillet VdP Coll Rh La Syrah à Papa||2022-23||03/18||med weight; grills suited|
|***||Jean-Baptiste Souillard VdFr Syrah||2021||11/17||sparkle, bright fruit, smoky|
|***||GAEC Vernay Coll Rh S comme Syrah||2021||12/18||easy red fruit, fresh|
|***||Vignoble Jean-Luc Jamet Coll Rh Valine Syr||2024-25||03/18||substance; pitchy, rugged|
|***||Dom Ville Rouge Vdp Drôme Pied Source||2021||11/18||juicy, fluid, easy, bit dry end|
|**(*)||Clos de Chazal Vdp Ardèche Syrah||2020||12/18||grippy, pretty genuine|
|****||Domaine Jamet CdRh w||2021||11/17||stylish gras, good snap|
|***(*)||Cave de Tain Coll Rh Marsanne Viognier||2019||11/17||enjoyable gras, texture|
|***(*)||Dom de Bonserine CdRh Hauts de Cheys Vio||2020||03/18||mild gras; freshness, long|
|***(*)||Jean-Michel Gérin VdFr Champine Viognier||mid 19||11/17||soft, easy, rounded|
|***(*)||Domaine Monier Vdp Coll Rh Roussanne||2021-22||11/17||good grip, spine, substance|
|***(*)||Dom Monteillet VdP Coll Rh Hauts Monteillet||2022||03/18||grapey, easy charm, gd grip|
|***(*)||Stéph Montez Vdp Coll Rh Le Petit Viognier||2020-21||03/18||neat gras, squeezy, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Stéphane Ogier Vdp Coll Rh Viognier Rosine||2020||11/17||style, gusto, gd content|
|***(*)||André Perret Vdp Coll Rh Marsanne||2020||07/17||squeezy gras, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||André Perret Vdp Coll Rh Viognier||2020||07/17||zest, delicate, fine|
|***(*)||Jean-Baptiste Souillard VdFr Marsanne||2021||11/17||cool, expressive, w.o.w.|
|***(*)||Dom G Vernay Vdp Coll Rh Pied de Samson||2020||07/17||easy gras, perky, joli|
|***(*)||Vignoble Jean-Luc Jamet CdRh w||2023||03/18||comfortable gras, character|
|***||Maison Les Alexandrins VdFr Viognier||mid 19||03/18||polished, crisp, bit bitter end|
|***||Sébastien Blachon VdFr Arthur Mars-Vio||2019-20||11/17||dried fruits, la table|
|***||Christophe Blanc VdFr Les Galets Viognier||2020||12/18||precise, light n'easy, w.o.w.|
|***||Christophe Blanc VdFr Gourmandise Vio||2025-26||12/18||rich intensity, cool, restraint|
|***||P & C Bonnefond VdFr Sensation Viognier||2020||03/18||grapey, pleasure, gd drinking|
|***||Cave de Tain Vdp Coll Rh Marsanne||2019||11/17||mild richness, fresh|
|***||Cave de Tain Vdp Coll Rh Viognier||2019||11/17||soft, peachy, floral|
|***||Domaine Courbis Vdp Ardèche Viognier||2020||11/17||fat, plenty for table|
|***||Ferraton Père & Fils Vdp Coll Rh Viognier||2019||11/17||neat, clear, v mild, aperitif|
|***||Dom Jasmin Vdp Coll Rh Viognier||2019||07/17||neat gras, refreshing|
|***||Domaine Monier Vdp Coll Rh Viognier||2020||11/17||salty, suave, end disorder|
|***||Vincent Paris Vdp Ardèche Granit blanc||2019||07/17||supple, open, soft|
|***||Jean-Baptiste Souillard VdFr Roussanne||2020||11/17||nerve, restraint, fine close|
|***||Dom Ville Rouge Vdp Drôme Vio/Chard||2020||11/18||smooth, round, juicy|
|**(*)||Dom des Amphores Coll Rh Les Iris Vio||2020||12/18||floral, could be softer|
|**(*)||Jean-Claude Marsanne Vdp Ardèche Vio||2019||03/18||mild roundness, soft|
|**(*)||François Merlin Vdp Coll Rh Brocéliande Vio||2020||03/18||high fruit, squeezy, bit short|
|**(*)||Didier Morion Cdp Coll Rh Viognier||2020||12/18||tender fat, fleshy|
2016 is a vintage of high classicism at CÔTE-RÔTIE. As I have noted elsewhere, it is a year of PURITY, when the clarity of the fruit runs with floral and mineral prompts, the wines bearing a “sparkling” quality, like a very fine tuned Short Wave radio [if readers remember my old travelling companion in Africa and South America].
The second half of the ripening season outshone the first by some margin, as the vineyards thrived on warm weather, vineyards that held good water reserves at mid-summer, and so never suffered from drought stress.
Excess vegetation was one of the main challenges prompting labour, but growers were pretty pleased with the vintage by harvest time, and also after vinifications, when they signalled both a sound quantity and wines led by good aromatics.
CHARM, PATIENCE, PROBABLY UNDERRATED
I regard this very good, probably underrated vintage as one that should be bought, and cellared nice and patiently. The wines have freshness and enough body to evolve well, and will really fill a room with their perfumed offerings in time. Charm, subtlety, delicious fruit are all on the menu.
As a late ripening vintage, 2016 runs with some parallels to the pre-high heat years that started in the early 1990s. The northern zone with its schist holds the upper hand over the southern sector this year, and as I know from my fruit trees, a long, slow ripening is usually the prelude to a year of well-tuned fruit and crisp acidity.
SLOW, TRICKY START TO RIPENING SEASON
It had been a muddling, ragged start, with BENJAMIN DUCLAUX of DOMAINE BENJAMIN & DAVID DUCLAUX stating: “it was a slow ripening year. April and May were cool, and we were late as we entered June.”
BERNARD BURGAUD also spoke of concerns in the spring when relating: “almonds usually flower in February if they are a bit late, and in January if they are early – but this year they flowered in December 2015. So I was worried in the spring. There were excellent reserves of water from the winter of 2015-16, almost like last year. January to March 2016 were wet, but the winter was very mild – we only had about one day or two of -1°C or -2°C.”
RENÉ ROSTAING gave this summary just before the harvest: “June was pretty catastrophic with rain and cold, and the sap being held back. But July and August were formidable, and that continued into September. We have had no rain for 30 days, and temperatures of 30°C to 35°C. Having been two weeks behind at the end of June, we have caught up, and are only a week behind now. The coming week is set to give good, hot weather. The SYRAH is 10.5° to 11°, and I would hope we can gain 1° per week now. Yield is good.”
LATE SUMMER BOOST
Back to BENJAMIN DUCLAUX, who in August reported: “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.”
PATRICK JASMIN pointed to a timely rainfall at a point when the vineyard was under a little stress: “there’s a belle harvest, sound degree and correct acidity,” he reported. “The SYRAH degree was 12.4° in the last week of August, but had risen to 13° to 13.5° by around 5 September, but the stems and pips weren’t ripe at that stage. 10 mm (0.4 in) of night rain on 31 August did good – we had had eight days of South Wind, and needed to crack that spell. Before the end of August, the vines were blocked here and there, but there were no yellow leaves.”
It was not until the late stages of September that growers finally felt their crop to be in ripe shape; the weather in September had been dry, so there wasn’t the pressure to hustle the harvest: that proved to be one of the determinants of this good vintage.
GOOD YIELD, GOOD CROP
JEAN-PAUL JAMET is usually about the last harvester at CÔTE-RÔTIE, and he is pleased with results in 2016: “the yield was around 40 hl/ha, similar to 2017, in fact (with 2017 we had an allowance to raise it to 44 hl/ha),” he stated. “There wasn’t the need to discard crop, either. It was a pretty normal year on timing, while September took a long time to finish the ripening. We started our harvest on 25-28 September, ending the SYRAH on 19 October and the white crop the next day. The tannins are less numerous than 2015’s, but are a lot rounder.”
The end of September was when YVES GANGLOFF harvested, as he told me: “we started on 27 September, and ended the harvest on 13 October. CÔTE-RÔTIE had a higher degree than CONDRIEU – I’ve never known that – it was around 13.85°, for example. It’s a pretty classic CÔTE-RÔTIE vintage, with a marked contrast between the colours and the aromatics – the wines are very rich aromatically.”
BERNARD BURGAUD did not find the same degree as GANGLOFF, but his vineyards are generally higher up. He stated: “the late season was formidable to allow ripeness, and the crop came in at 40-41 hl/ha as well, so that was pleasing. The harvest was of good quality, and it’s a classic late ripening vintage.
The degree was 12° to 12.5°, against 13.5° in 2015. While we are talking about great vintages, I would remind you that 1978 was 11° to 11.5°. My 2016 is gourmand, close to a classic vintage, more so than 2015. 1978 was like 2016 at the early stage, a year old, with a bit more richness in sugar. 2006 was another late vintage, with a lot of crop, and the first time we hit 13°.”
I found BERNARD’s 2016 a wine high on charm, and well balanced. The latter point was discussed, with BERNARD telling me: “bringing together all the different zones – precocious and late – allows great balance. In the old days, before heating up of the climate, the late zones were sometimes hard to ripen, and the difficulty was to find fine tannins.”
As a telling differential between 2016 and the 2015 and 2017 vintages flanking it, I would point to the respective degrees in these three vintages. JEAN-PAUL JAMET told me that his 2016 ran between 12.6° and 12.8°, whereas 2015 was between 13.4° and 13.5°, and 2017 was between 13.5° and 13.7°. “Crucial in 2017 was the cool, cold September nights after the very hot August, so the 2017s weren’t cooked, allowing us to conserve very belles acidities,” he told me.
BALANCE, MORE TYPICAL THAN 2015
Also naturally pleased with the full crop this year was LOUIS DREVON of DOMAINE DE ROSIERS, who commented: “the yield was high - 44 hl/ha against 39 hl/ha in 2015. It’s very balanced, in the style of 2012, but more concentrated, and it’s also more typical than 2015. The colours are belle and brilliant.”
Applauding the high yield, and pointing out the importance of working towards freshness this year was PIERRE BENETIÈRE, whose main vineyards are in the southern sector at TUPIN. He told me: “2016 was more difficult than 2015; the spring was fresh, and thus flowering took nearly three weeks, so ripening was disparate. I thought I was mad because no-one else was harvesting while I was picking – but that got me my freshness, and still some grip, tension. The late harvest wines lacked acidity. At 40 hl/ha, it was almost a full crop.”
To some extent, I feel that the full yields aided the elegance of the vintage: had there been 10-15% less crop, then the wines might have been a mite more deep, but not necessarily as balanced.
Two growers who like to produce elegant wines are YVES CUILLERON and CHRISTINE VERNAY. YVES CUILLERON first: “2016 CÔTE-RÔTIE is fresh, agreeable, with enough matter to be OK, with supple tannins. Quality was constant across the Northern Rhône, and the wines are easy to drink.”
Now, CHRISTINE VERNAY: “the wines are more subtle than 2015 – they are aromatic, whereas the 2015s are big and powerful. I adore the style – the wines have fine, fresh fruits, and the wines are more profound than thick, so are better balanced than 2015, which is large, a Body Builder vintage. 2016 is superior to 2014, though both are fresh vintages,” she explained.
GRADUAL RIPENESS . . . ELEGANCE
At the DOMAINE JEAN-MICHEL GÉRIN, the patron is easing towards a second row seat, letting his sons MICHEL, 30, and ALEXIS, 28, take more prominent roles, the former on vinification and production, the latter on commerce. JEAN-MICHEL gave this take on 2016: “it’s a belle vintage, with good ripeness, which came along gradually. I am delighted, the wine is fine and elegant.” MICHEL added that 2016 was more interesting to vinify than 2015. Such elegance also encompasses a more restrained style of wine for this domaine, where the wines were once strongly oaked, and where cap punching was last performed in 2009.
A couple of youngish growers who perhaps are conditioned to recent years of DENSITY as a norm, gave these slightly outside views on 2016: GAETAN LAFOY stated: “2016 is quite feeble in structure,” while STÉPHANE OGIER told me: “2017 is a year for reds, while 2016 is also interesting, very beau, but I rate the whites a bit ahead of the reds.”
Across the appellation, I rate the fruit extremely good this year, testament to the vintage and to the ever improving mastery of harvest dates and sensible, not overdone, cellar work. The wines have real Burgundian tinkle, are northern, and very clear cut for the most part.
2016: IN THE SHADOW OF 2015, 2017, BUT TRUE TERROIR, STGT WINES
It is a vintage that will probably reside, unfairly, in the shadow of 2015 and maybe 2017 also, those two vintage catching the headlines thanks to their scale and immediate, full-on impact. 2016 is a classic year for true terroir definition, the northern schist soils doing especially well, with STGT wines from the ***** JEAN-MICHEL GÉRIN LES GRANDES PLACES, ****(*) LES GRANDES PLACES of CLUSEL-ROCH, another ****(*) LES GRANDES PLACES from the resurgent LES VINS DE VIENNE, the ****(*) CHRISTOPHE BILLON CÔTE ROZIER and the ****(*) new cuvée from LANCEMENT by DOMAINE CHAMBEYRON. These wines held real cut and intensity.
I chatted to JEAN-PAUL JAMET about the terroir definition on various of his lieux-dits, and we got round to LE PLOMB, which is above VERENAY in the northern sector. “I like LE PLOMB a lot, but only in the blend,” he told me. “Very often it’s too virile, lacks balance on its own. It’s a wine on structure, and not so much on pleasure. LES GRANDES PLACES is similar – it’s on force. 2016 is an ideal year for LE PLOMB, as it’s a more airborne year,” he remarked.
THE CURSE OF NEW WAVE
An issue that regular readers will know vexes me is that of NEW WAVE wines. We have seen how neutered are some RHÔNE WHITES, but now such clipping tendencies are spreading also to the REDS. One is unlikely to encounter such wines from a small domaine, more so from the large enterprises that have young people making the wines. An example at CÔTE-RÔTIE 2016 is the M CHAPOUTIER LES BÉCASSES – my tasting note [blind tasted, unlike most young journalists] reading “an unadorned RÔTIE, with the pared back NEW WAVE tendency that is à la mode in the big houses. Allow until 2020 so it can regain some flesh, expand away from this imposed tightness.”
I find it counter intuitive to want to deconstruct a wine with some southern richness in its veins, serve it up in that skinny mode, then – perhaps – expect the buyer to wait while it subsequently tries to expand, as would a BURGUNDY. The bouquets on these wines are usually are pretty good, but you can’t drink aroma.
Another house now on this NEW WAVE trail, by the way, is FAMILLE PERRIN, whose 2016 CAIRANNE PEYRE BLANCHE red was also pared back in style, out of tune with the natural bounty of the great vintage in the south.
The best wines of 2016 will live for 15 to 20 years, perhaps more if well cellared. I have no doubt that around 2040 there will be some keen amateurs opening a bottle of 2016 with some trepidation, only to be seduced by its freshness and aromatic content. An underestimated vintage, therefore, and well worth buying.
|******||Domaine Jamet Côte Brune||2044-46||11/17||sensuous, mineral, Grand Vin|
|*****||Clusel-Roch Classique||2032-34||11/17||bright, true, nourishing, long|
|*****||Jean-Michel Gérin Les Grandes Places||2037-40||11/17||STGT, v good style, truth|
|*****||Stéphane Ogier La Belle Hélène||2042-44||11/17||stylish, silken, pure, super beau|
|*****||Stéphane Ogier Lancement||2039-42||11/17||sensual, aromatic, flair, iron|
|*****||Domaine Rostaing Côte Blonde||2041-43||11/17||firm, heart, winning gras|
|*****||Domaine Rostaing Côte Brune||2042-44||11/17||complex, long, fine, captivating|
|*****||Jean-Michel Stéphan Cotx de Tupin||2036-37||03/18||mineral, naked, arresting, STGT|
|****(*)||Domaine Gilles Barge Côte Blonde||2038-40||03/18||v stylish fruit; compact, long|
|****(*)||Pierre & Marie Benetière Cordeloux||2033-35||03/18||tasty, juicy, vibrant, mineral|
|****(*)||Christophe Billon Côte Rozier||2033-36||11/17||broad, insistent, long, STGT|
|****(*)||Christophe Billon Les Elotins||2033-35||11/17||promise, articulate, typical 2016|
|****(*)||Domaine de Bonserine La Garde||2037-39||03/18||sensuous, soft, floral, freshness|
|****(*)||Domaine Chambeyron Lancement||2031-33||11/17||style, dash, heart, STGT|
|****(*)||Domaine Champet Les Fils à Jo||2034-35||03/18||gd depth, floral, delightful|
|****(*)||Clusel-Roch Les Grandes Places||2034-37||11/17||generous, long, perfumed, STGT|
|****(*)||Delas La Landonne||2034-37||11/17||cordite, punchy, oaked|
|****(*)||Yves Gangloff La Sereine Noire||2036-38||11/17||good style, structure, beau|
|****(*)||Domaine Garon Lancement||2036-38||03/18||rich, savoury, stylish, will clarify|
|****(*)||Domaine Garon Les Rochins||2034-36||03/18||dashing fruit; character, potential|
|****(*)||Jean-Michel Gérin La Landonne||2039-41||11/17||sleek content, sure gras|
|****(*)||Jean-Michel Gérin La Viallière||2036-38||11/17||silken, tasty, refined, fresh|
|****(*)||Domaine Jean-Paul & Corinne Jamet||2040-44||11/17||terroir interest, intricate, STGT|
|****(*)||Dom Monteillet Montez Grndes Places||2039-41||03/18||class, authenticity; bright fruit|
|****(*)||Stéphane Ogier La Viallière||2038-40||11/17||interest, complexity, floral, iron|
|****(*)||Domaine S Pichat Les Grandes Places||2030-32||11/17||naked, convincing, genuine|
|****(*)||Domaine de Rosiers Besset||2033-35||11/17||long, stylish, Burgundian finesse|
|****(*)||Domaine Rostaing La Landonne||2039-41||11/17||good flesh, grace, purity|
|****(*)||Jean-Michel Stéphan Ctx de Bassenon||2035-36||03/18||fresh verve, pure, winning, long|
|****(*)||Vignoble Jean-Luc Jamet Terrasses||2038-40||03/18||good heart; genuine, long|
|****||Maison Les Alexandrins||2031-32||03/18||authentic, fine, spherical|
|****||Domaine Gilles Barge Côte Brune||2037-39||03/18||sleek, elegant, nerve, naked|
|****||Christophe Billon La Brocarde||2031-33||11/17||bright fruit, elegant, charm|
|****||P & C Bonnefond Côte Rozier||2031-33||03/18||elegant, silken; good freshness|
|****||P & C Bonnefond Les Rochains||2032-34||03/18||glistening fruit; immediate impact|
|****||Domaine de Bonserine La Sarrasine||2035-37||03/18||balance, stuffing, freshness|
|****||Domaine de Bonserine La Viallière||2036-38||03/18||careful restraint, fine; Burgundian|
|****||Bernard Burgaud||2038-40||11/17||charm, balance, fruit purity|
|****||Domaine Chambeyron La Chavarine||2030-33||11/17||rocky essence, not obvious|
|****||Domaine Champet La Viallière||2029-31||03/18||frank, gt style, buzz; w.o.w.|
|****||M Chapoutier La Mordorée||2032-35||11/17||compact fruit, fresh, spartan|
|****||M Chapoutier Neve||2031-32||11/17||energy, fresh, buzzy|
|****||M Chapoutier Quatuor||2030-33||11/17||heart, commendable detail|
|****||Domaine Louis Clerc||2028-29||11/17||rich, ripe, tasty, natural|
|****||Clusel-Roch La Viallière||2033-36||11/17||cosy richness, savoury, tasty|
|****||J. Denuzière||2032-34||11/17||crunch fruit, cordite, promise|
|****||Benjamin & David Duclaux La Germine||2028-29||11/17||discreet, aromatic, linear|
|****||Lionel Faury Reviniscence||2030-33||11/17||character, hand made, musky|
|****||Yves Gangloff La Barbarine||2033-35||11/17||inner muscle, sultry, firm|
|****||Domaine Garon La Sybarine||2027-28||03/18||clear, restrained, digestible, cool|
|****||Domaine Garon Les Triotes||2030-32||03/18||grounded; plump, genuine heart|
|****||Xavier Gérard||2035-37||12/18||aromatic, fine, unhurried|
|****||Jean-Michel Gérin Champin Seigneur||2032-34||11/17||crisp fruit, flair, finesse|
|****||Domaine Jasmin La Giroflarie||2031-33||07/17||stylish, gently sturdy|
|****||Jocelyne & Yves Lafoy Côte Rozier||2031-33||11/17||firm richness, integrity|
|****||Vignobles Levet La Péroline||2039-41||12/18||slinky flow, true, traditional|
|****||François Merlin||2029-31||03/18||tasty, seductive, lucid, bright|
|****||Dom du Monteillet S Montez Fortis||2037-39||03/18||modern, crystalline, Burgundian|
|****||Rémi Niéro Eminence||2028-29||11/17||precise, interest, fine detail|
|****||Stéphane Ogier Côte Blonde||2037-39||11/17||close-knit, spicy, rocky|
|****||Stéphane Ogier Réserve de S Ogier||2036-39||11/17||sound depth, steady ensemble|
|****||Stéphane Ogier Village||2034-37||11/17||tight, cool, rocky|
|****||Ogier SAS La Serine||2027-29||11/17||entertaining fruit, tannin tang|
|****||Cédric Parpette Le Plomb||2039-41||12/18||intricate weave, spinal, mineral|
|****||Domaine Stéphane Pichat Löss||2030-32||11/17||gutsy, suave, shapely, fresh|
|****||Domaine Rostaing Ampodium||2035-37||11/17||rigour, finesse, sinew, freshness|
|****||Domaine Rostaing Viallière||2041-42||11/17||firm, tight, velvet, iron|
|****||J-Baptiste Souillard Coteau Bassenon||2027-29||11/17||neat gras; elegant, coherent|
|****||Domaine Jean-Michel Stéphan||2028-29||03/18||squeezy appeal, gourmand|
|****||Les Vins de Vienne Les Essartailles||2030-31||11/17||balance, style, fine juice|
|****||Vins de Vienne Les Grandes Places||2030-32||11/17||quality fruit, stylish, STGT|
|****||Les Vins de Vienne Le Plomb||2030-32||11/17||stiff, interesting, slow burn|
|***(*)||Hervé Avallet Osa||2032-34||12/18||gentle, aromatic, natural, genuine|
|***(*)||Domaine Barge Le Combard||2034-36||03/18||soft gras, neat, unhurried|
|***(*)||Christophe Blanc Charmille||2032-34||12/18||rocky, floral, clear, spare|
|***(*)||P & C Bonnefond Colline de Couzou||2029-31||03/18||sound weight, steel, raw, time|
|***(*)||Domaine Chambeyron L’Angeline||2029-31||11/17||honest, traditional, perfumed|
|***(*)||M Chapoutier Les Bécasses||2030-32||11/17||spiced, tight, pared back|
|***(*)||Aurélien Chatagnier||2030-32||11/17||willing, juicy fruit, genuine|
|***(*)||Benjamin & David Duclaux La Chana||2027-29||11/17||fleshy, perfumed, traditional|
|***(*)||Ben & David Duclaux Maison Rouge||2029-30||11/17||agreeable gras; has heart|
|***(*)||Ferraton Père & Fils Montmain||2029-32||11/17||quiet fruit, rocky tannin|
|***(*)||André François Le Peintre||2031-33||03/18||genuine, iron, prancing, naked|
|***(*)||Pierre Gaillard||2027-28||11/17||immediate bounty, flashy|
|***(*)||Jocelyne & Yves Lafoy Prélude||2027-28||11/17||neat fruit, crisp tannins|
|***(*)||Vignobles Levet Améthyste||2038-40||12/18||soft, wavy, iron-iodine-floral|
|***(*)||Gabriel Meffre Laurus||2028-30||11/17||tasty, streamlined, pleasant|
|***(*)||Domaine Mouton Maison Rouge||2036-38||12/18||good fruit spark, nerve, scope|
|***(*)||Domaine Stéphane Pichat Champon’s||2028-30||11/17||elegant, tight, slow gainer|
|***(*)||Domaine de Rosiers Drevon||2032-34||11/17||liberal fruit, fluid richness|
|***(*)||Vidal-Fleury Brune et Blonde||2030-33||11/17||subdued gras, potential|
|***||Romain Duvernay||2026-27||11/17||sweet, fleshy, bit exerted|
|***||André François Gerine||2028-29||03/18||suave content, stem vegetal|
|***||Pierre Gaillard Rose Pourpre||2029-30||11/17||sweet fruit, musky, ponderous|
|***||Domaine Jasmin Oléa||2041-43||12/19||blue fruit, oak, international|
|***||Jeantet-Laurent Les Filles de Maugiron||2033-35||12/18||steady fruit stream; live tannins|
|***||Laudun Chusclan Vignerons Les Rolets||2025-26||11/17||red fruits, stretched|
|***||Domaine Mouton||2034-36||12/18||traditional, bit one-paced|
|***||Jean-Baptiste Souillard Tartaras||2026-27||11/17||fine fruit, calm, bit dull|
|***||GAEC Vernay||2032-34||12/18||schist wrapped; dark fruit, fair|