2008 has performed in a usual Rhône way - providing good whites and likeable rosés, the latter less heady than recent vintages. Thus the aperitif can be drawn from Tavel and neighbour Lirac, or from some of the enterprising Côtes du Rhône domaines which take trouble over their rosés. Notes on Tavel will be posted in the next weeks. See Goings-On for news of an award given to me by the growers of Vinsobres last month.
The third week of April 2009 was the stage for the Decanter World Wine Awards, which involved a large amount of tasting over four days in London. This year there were more Rhône entries for the Decanter event than ever before this year, and the number of gold medals given doubled from last year`s tally of two to four. Their identities will be revealed in due course - I do not know yet who made them since the wines were all tasted, and re-tasted blind. There was one 2008 white, and three 2007 reds.
Recent additions to the Northern Rhône feature three new domaines of good quality each one: the saucily-named SCEA La Tache at Saint-Joseph, Christophe Curtat at Saint-Joseph - both in the prime southern zone of that straggling appellation - and at Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Saint Clair, of Denis Basset. Please also keep checking the STGT and w.o.w. categories as tasting notes on 2007 are being fed in. Notice that Crozes 2007 from good domaines looks like delivering really friendly fruit, classic for w.o.w. However, there are a lot of got-up wines as well from Crozes. Also check out the rock solid qualities of the Domaine Durand at Saint-Joseph (and Cornas), and the Domaine Belle at Crozes-Hermitage (and Hermitage).
Also recently included has been a vast array of Chapoutier wines, also those from their offshoot Ferraton (both listed under Hermitage), Marc Sorrel from Hermitage, and from Crozes-Hermitage, Alain Graillot, with a first look at his 2008s, as well as the wines of his son Maxime, at his Domaine des Lises - a name to remember.
Cornas (Cheval) News: our Cheval Mascot ran on Saturday 4 April at Aintree, near Liverpool, in a 2 mile novice chase event that preceded the world famous Grand National race. He finished fourth in this championship race, and was bang there until the winner quickened away to win by 12 lengths - presumably it is a Bessards/Méal style beast, that Kalahari King, while Cornas is, well Cornas - honest virtues and a real trier. He is off on his summer holidays now, with some lush turf to pick at. Repose-toi bien, Cornas.
He had been skipping around at his home in Devon, and clearly likes the spring weather that Britain has recently enjoyed. Fingers are crossed, but once again he crosses swords with the best beasts around - a reprise of his race at Cheltenham last month, when he finished seventh after slipping on landing two fences from home. The flat racecourse at Aintree will suit him a little better. Auguste Clape has not yet been informed of Cornas` next outing, but was in grand form when seen two weeks ago tasting with the crowd in Tain l`Hermitage. ALLEZ CORNAS !!!