2014 Rhone en primeur

2014 Rhone Valley - Got slopes and sand?

Victorian values - hard work was its own reward

Prolific vines, especially Grenache, and a damp summer made the 2014 vintage in the southern Rhone one of the more challenging for some years. Growers had to work exceptionally hard every day of the season to get results, and we’ve tasted wine from some that clearly didn’t. The first thing you had to do was prune hard enough. Letting your vines have even a little bit if freedom gave tonnes of fruit that quality conscious producers discarded early on. That done, the cool and damp summer meant that vines on slopes or situated in the higher appellations like Gigondas; or on the sandier parts of the Chateauneuf plateau were advantaged. Forcing low yields and drainage were the key to ripening your crop successfully and gaining the fresh balance so rare down there in the sultry south.

In the north, the Rhone’s Syrah as well as the white varieties also needed keeping in check volume-wise. Low yields were more than necessary. The winter was very warm, so though summer was cool, 2014 was still the warmest year on record. That cool summer in the north has made some very elegant and deliciously fresh wines especially suitable for those who think that Syrah ought to have something in common with Pinot Noir. As ever check tasting notes before buying as not everyone does as much work as they should, and not always out of indolence. Labour is hard to find in this relatively prosperous area where a job in a factory or office can seem much preferable to toiling under the sun, drenched by storms of frozen by the mistral.