what a crazy month was September 2008. Whacky or what? I experienced some of the turmoil first-hand when working in New York, Boston and London. Already the wine merchants are offering the Menetou Salon or Quincy rather than the Sancerre, or the Costières de Nîmes rather than the Rhône Villages. The Rhône growers joined in the general volatility with difficult weather in the first half of the month - notably two large storms in the Southern Rhône - but then welcomed the Mistral to blow from North to South and so commence cleaning-up operations.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape growers started to pick their Grenache around 21 September, and Gigondas got going a week after that. Morning temperatures of 9-10°C (48-50°F) rising to day levels of not more than 20-24°C (68-75°F) suggest a good year for the white Rhônes. Yields are well down on 2007 - 20-40% off - and it will be a year demanding careful selection by buyers: for the growers, precise, watchful and pre-emptive vineyard work will pay its rewards this year. Playing catch-up in the cellar will be a dodgy course of action.
Here on the website, there were more domaines loaded under Gigondas in September, and this will continue in October. A new Châteauneuf-du-Pape domaine, Domaine des 3 Cellier (one half of the now discontinued Domaine Saint-Benoit) has been added, and also the awakening Domaine Durieu and the steady, traditional Eddie Feraud.
The big news at Gigondas in September was the purchase by the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel of the excellent, STGT Domaine des Tourelles - see Goings On for the explanation. A series of tastings of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006s has also been done, and will be rounded up, along with the prominent Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006 reds, under the 2006 Southern Rhône left hand tab during this month.
Visits to the Rhône to taste 2006s and 2007s and some vats of 2008 will occur in the next months leading up to Christmas. We also bid farewell to the home photograph of my runner beans (still giving crop on 3 October, 2008) and greet a shot of Gigondas from the air that I took in February 2008. In rainy vintages, Gigondas often performs well, helped by the altitude and later ripening of its vineyards. A sound September is, of course, a pre-requisite.