2016 Rhone en primeur
2016 Rhone: drinkability and mineral wealth
'one of the most exciting Southern Rhône vintages of my lifetime.' - Joe Czerwinski, robertparker.com 31/10/2017
Stealth and flattery might also be terms to describe the 2016 wines. The vintage was a warm one and produced both excellent quality as well as a balancing quantity. In many wine regions less is often more, meaning that for instance in Burgundy in some years a large crop won’t ever ripen properly. In the southern Rhone that is rarely an issue and in some years a larger crop can help to make a balanced portfolio of wines across the region. In two words the south is about power and freshness. But what has surprised me in tastings so far is that the wines have more purity and drive than I was expecting: above all they show more genuinely mineral character even to many having a genuinely saline element. Whites are both plump and fresh. Of course a large part of the reason for this is August, the legendary month that makes the wine as old vignerons say. Days were hot, which gave the wines their power, but nights were cold, which endowed them with freshness and helped the mineral character develop.
Up in the northern Rhone the picture is similar except that growers had to work hard against disease pressure in early summer before those ideal August conditions kicked in to make wines that are fresh and harmonious. Tasting northern Rhones as cask samples from the 2016 vintage is a delight. So far there have been no hard edges, just harmony in the wines. They are mineral and elegant, perfumed and balanced in both reds and whites. /CW