First Thoughts – Rhone 2007


Last week we ventured south to the Rhône Valley to taste through the 2007s from the bottom of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the top of Côte Rôtie. The 2007 vintage has been received well by those journalists who have already taken the plunge, particularly in the Southern Rhône and in Châteauneuf, so we were quite curious to see what this vintage had in store.

Unlike much of France, the southern Rhône had a nice, “˜normal’ vintage. Though the flowering occurred early like other areas, they had a temperate summer with vibrant sunshine, cool nights and no excessive rain. This not only created a normally paced growing season, but it enabled the grapes to ripen slowly and retain their freshness.

Grenache and Mourvedre have been hailed as the varieties of the year and after having tasted multiple examples of both, even we found our inner Roman to proclaim their deliciousness. There are indeed some fantastic examples from the south. The wines at Beaucastel (including the Perrin selections) were particularly breathtaking. They view the 2007 as the best in a long, long time…”œeven better than the 2005 and maybe as good as 1989″ if I remember Marc Perrin properly. They not only have loads of sweet fruit but they displayed wonderful balance, ripe tannins and excellent freshness and minerality – impressive elegance for such big wines. If further convincing is necessary, Domaine Cayron said that the 2007 is the first vintage where people are already trying to reserve their wine. Not a bad result.

The Northern Rhône was not quite as fortunate in terms of weather with a cooler, slightly damp and less sunny August. However, September was their lifesaver sending sun, warm temperatures and the ever relentless Mistral which dried out the vineyards and concentrated the grapes. Though they do not present the weight and structure of the 2005s (it was a once in a century vintage, after all), most display superbly juicy fruit and velvety tannins. Many growers think they are between 2004 and 2006 in terms of quality – both of which produced delicious wines. However, growers like Stéphane Ogier were over the moon with their 2007s saying that they are even richer than his 2006s and more seductive than his 2005s. Most areas of Côte Rôtie suffered hail damage which wiped out approximately 30% of their harvest keeping yields low and hence quality high.

We will be hosting our annual Rhône En Primeur tasting which will feature most of the 2007 wines in our upcoming offer (poured by the growers themselves!) on Tuesday, 18 November at the new Saatchi Gallery in London. For more information, please contact our office on 020 7793 7900.