we retain Cornas, le cheval, as our photo mascot, even though he is taking a summer rest and probably galloping around some prime West Country turf near his stables. A small degree of extra sophistication has hit town this month, as links are created to wines singled out in tastings. I have given the STGT wines their own slot, as this is so fundamental to the approach that I most appreciate and respect.
From June, the highlight in London was an exceptional lunch at the 1 star Michelin Ledbury restaurant, a dish of ravioli of crab and lemongrass with sweetcorn and girolles being the complete star: beautiful with the Saint-Péray Les Pins 2006 from Domaine Gripa. Before that I was in the Rhône, which had its first really warm weather on Tuesday 17 June, after 5 or 6 weeks of indifferent climate. Outbreaks of mildew were reported in the Gard area, west of the river in the Southern Rhône, and elsewhere growers were struggling to contain that and some oidium on their vines. Cool weather, a lot of small rainfalls and no stable high pressure meant that copper or sulphur treatments for mildew and oidium were not gripping on the vines. At that stage the harvest was about 10 days behind the time of recent vintages.
To be posted this month will be a very full appraisal of 2005 at both Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, as well as notes on 2006s and some 2007s. About 35 Tavel 2007s will also be put up, as these wines are obviously time sensitive. The new wines will be flagged up when entered in the section marked The Wines, where each domaine`s close-up is to be found. Visan, a Côtes du Rhône Village with some promising domaines, is finally emerging from a long dormant phase, and some 45 wines from there will be posted up, with their domaines as well. This is the sort of place that should be offering good value for money as winemaking standards improve and younger growers look after the vineyards more carefully than previous forebears.
For the moment, sample domaines that are free to all to assess what you receive on drinkrhone.com are Domaine Courbis and Jean-Michel Gérin in the North, and Domaine Pierre André and Domaine Chante Cigale at Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the South. This should give a flavour of what to expect. I can always be contacted at email@example.com as well.