Seldom have I been more inspired to taste and buy Rhone wines than at our recent 2006 En Primeur Rhone tasting.
14 of our producers flew over from France to The Hospital, Covent Garden, to take our guests through each of their wines. The Rhone is one of our finest tastings, not only do I love the various styles of wines but I also get thoroughly involved every year with Philippe Olivier’s finest selection of cheeses. There is nothing quite like tucking into a Beaucastel vertical spanning 8 vintages, with a chunk of reblochon nestling to the side of my tasting glass.
We had just over 200 guests through the door, no one had been to The Hospital before and all were very happy that we had chosen this central, modern and extremely funky venue to house our 06 Rhones. 13 tables, kicking off with our Cote Rotie producers, Clusel Roch, Monteillet, Bonnefond and Ogier to name a few, then rounding the corner we were met by the suave Rene Rostaing pumping out his village Cote Rotie, flanked by his top wines, La Landonne and Cote Blonde. Of course his table was going to cause a stir and I saw him on more than one occasion hold back his La Landonne 1990 from the hungry hordes willing him to part with just a smidgen of this precious and infamously rare wine.
From Cote Rotie we went into and around the Hermitage Hill and found Robert Rousset and his full-bodied, packed with dark bilberry fruit, Crozes. The Hermitage by Colombier and Cornas by Alain Voge were amongst my favourite wines. He makes spectacular Cornas (and it will be entering the JL cellar).
At the far end of the room the Cayron sisters were showing some of the most inviting and up front Gigondas I have ever tasted. Delicious it was and I spent 10 minutes here getting into trouble with them before moving back to Alain’s Cornas for ‘just one more sample’…..Our Chateauneufs are a highlight, we have spent years building up a portfolio of top rung estates, Font de Michelle, Versino, Du Pere Pape, Clos des Papes and Beaucastel. Their village wines were on show and so were their top Cuvées many of which are named after a family member and embody the most intense expression of the vineyard.
We finished with Mas de Daumas Gassac, ‘the Grand Cru of the Languedoc’, this is a cult wine that I have bought every year for the past 4 years. It is as elegant as Madame Guibert herself.