NORTHERN RHONE VINTAGE GUIDE
Click on each vintage to see what we currently have in stock on our main website:
2017- The 2017 vintage was a more challenging one, defined by a cold start and then a very warm summer. Cool weather early in the season affected flowering, ultimately decreasing the size of the final crop. During the summer months, hot temperatures suppressed vigor, giving the grapes good concentration. Harvest was very early, beginning at the end of August, which helped retain the freshness that many of the 2017s show. This is generally a vintage to drink early, while you’re waiting for the 2015s and 2016s to develop.
2016 - A great vintage in the Northern Rhone for completely different reasons than the 2015s. For those that adore the classic, terroir-driven, transparent, and elegant side of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie should go deep in 2016s. The quality is very high and although there are less immediate wines than the famed 2015s, they have immense long term potential and might be favored by certain palates for it.
2015 - By all accounts, 2015 appears to have the potential for one of the strongest vintages in decades. Jeb Dunnuck described it as “a truly sensational vintage” while powerhouse vigneron Marcel Guigal echoed similar sentiments recently in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Insofar, Côte Rôtie has inched away as the appellation with the most potential, with reports of superb concentration, power and depth, but it looks like 2015 could be a replicate of the celebrated vintages of 1999, 2009 and 2010.
2014 - 2014 was both colder and rainier than many expected but the steep sites of Cornas, St-Joseph, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie drained out very well, leaving their world-renowned terroirs laced within the wines. Yields were down significantly due to a swath of fruit flies that attacked many vineyards just before harvest. While the sorting tables may have been impacted as a result of the flies, the final products are downright delicious. This vintage has been somewhat overshadowed by the buzz surrounding 2015 but there is a broad scope of spectacular wines in 2014.
2013 - 2013 developed into a dense, concentrated and classically old-school vintage. While less consistent than 2012, Hermitage, Côte Rôtie and Cornas produced the vintage’s show-stoppers. Stick to the high-tier productions in St-Joseph. The 2013 vintage was particularly cool and challenging, but in the end it resulted in structured and age-worthy wines. The biggest issue with the 2013’s is not quality, it’s quantity. An international surge in demand for these wines came at a time of lower yields, and thus higher price points in some cases.
2012 - Nearly every appellation within the Rhone excelled in 2012. The vintage started wet and cold but turned around rather abruptly during harvest. Reds from St-Joseph and Hermitage drew acclaim from the press while the Viognier-based whites were found to be less dependable. These wines are the perfect companion to those who enjoy richer, juicier wines. In sum, the 2012 vintage was interpreted as a shave stronger than 2011, with consistent quality almost across the board.
2011 - Warmer conditions early in the growing season led to heightened sugars that slowed down after a cooler summer. The resultant wines are fresh and red fruited, with an emphasis on terroir as opposed to ripeness. Overall, 2009, 2010 and 2011 proved to be a string of high quality, successful vintages, each with notable and identifiable characteristics. 2009 was lush and opulent, 2010 carried power and heft, while 2011 was characterized as a vintage of balance.
2010 - Smaller yields and exceptional quality was enjoyed throughout the Rhone Valley in 2010. Deemed a collector’s vintage, 2010 produced dense, structured wines that require some time to develop. For those with the ability to exercise restraint, this is a vintage with huge long-term upside. Similar to the vintage reports from Bordeaux and Italy, 2009 and 2010 are viewed as massive successes, yet markedly different stylistically.
2009 - 2009 was everything that the Northern Rhone needed after back-to-back vintages marred with complexities. Widespread quality, well integrated tannins and great freshness are all hallmarks of 2009. Arguably the best vintage in decades, the 2009s are soft, dark fruited and accessible. Finding a disappointing bottle from this vintage will be the real challenge. A true drink or hold vintage.
2008 - Sticking to cornerstone productions (M Chapoutier, JL Chave, Tardieu-Laurent) is the safe bet when purchasing wines from ‘08. Heavy rain, generally cold weather and temperature variances were the defining factors of the vintage. Similar to 2007, vignerons were forced to be very selective at the sorting table which lowered production levels and hampered exports. Today, these wines are showing exceptionally well when you can find them.
2007 - Highlights from this challenging vintage include wines from smaller appellations such as St- Joseph, Côte Rôtie and Cornas. Just like everywhere else in France, the 2007 vintage was defined by the recurring possibility of mildew due to an especially grey, damp summer. Gusty winds in September staved off the prospect of disease and saved the vintage as a whole. At the end of it all, most vignerons were quite pleased with the vintage compared to what could have been. While the Southern Rhone stole the show in terms of across-the-board greatness, there is no shortage of values within its Northern counterpart.