growers up and down the Rhône tell me that the growing season is going well, smoothly, and that harvest dates at this juncture look like being on the early side. They have had none of the drip-drip weather that led to widespread mildew in 2008, and are as hopeful as they can be before the all-important months of July and August. As it has in Britain, the weather in June in the Rhône has been hot, but water reserves are fuller than they have been for a few years - so, touch wood, things are looking promising. The good feeling about the 2009 vintage continues.
June was sad in that Châteauneuf-du-Pape lost one of its most senior figures, Paul Avril of the Clos des Papes - see Goings-On for my little obituary on Paul, an outstanding ambassador for the region, and a charming man of poise and intellect. Alsace also lost its great ambassador, the ebullient Jean or Johnny Hugel. With officialdom and big business systems stifling more and more of the characters of the wine trade, these are the sort of people who nowadays stand out for their drive and enterprise, both Avril and Hugel men who represented "lesser" regions of France thirty-five years ago when I first met them. It is fitting to think that now neither region is in any way "lesser".
Recently posted items include domaines from Cairanne, Costières de Nimes, Rasteau, Roaix, Signargues and Ventoux - see under those appellations. In constant renewal are the central drinkrhone categories of STGT and w.o.w. - Soil to Glass Transfer wines and what one wants wines. Refer to these (date tasted in right hand column is a good indicator of recent activity) for natural, terroir wines or easy drinking, free-flowing wines. A cross-section of 2006 and 2007 wines from Vinsobres have been entered, while the next project is the full report on the 2007 northern Rhône. For the full list of domaines recently posted, see Goings-On.