the fears of drought this year are dwindling, much to the relief and happiness of growers. The rain that started to revive in early June has continued into the first half of July. Côte-Rôtie received 35 mm (1.4 inches) on 13 July after a trickle of rain the week before. Gilles Barge reported: "I am looking at early September harvesting - it`s been the same for a month now. We have had to take out excess crop here and there, and the grapes are looking quite full already. They started to turn colour a week ago." Also in the North, Pierre Clape at Cornashad this angle: "we have had 53 mm (2.12 inches) of rain in two falls; one of them, on Sunday 10 July, came with some hail that maybe lost some growers around 5%. The temperature has been very up and down. We had 32-33°C in the first week of July, then it dipped down to 26°C, and the same happened in the second week - a high of 32°C which then fell to a fresh 23°C today, 15 July. - which is good for me to work in, even if not good for holidaymakers. The result is that the vineyard is now well nourished in water."
At Gigondas, Jean-Pierre Meffre of Domaine Saint Gayan, told me: "we had a formidable fall of 42 mm (1.8 inches), a benediction, on the night of 12-13 July. It came exactly when we were waiting for it, especially given the charge of grapes we have this year. It will also accelerate ripening, and there is a good Mistral blowing today (15 July)."
reporting en direct from the Rhône, the growers are content after what for many was a modest month of June. Despite pretty ordinary temperatures, the vineyard has benefited from extrememy helpful rainfall. In the Northern Rhône, around 60 to 70 mm (2.2-2.8 in) has been recorded, with growers such as Louis Drevon and Bernard Burgaud at Côte-Rôtie stating that the quantity is good and the vines healthy, with no hydric stress. "We are still in sight of an early harvest," said Louis Drevon at his Domaine de Rosiers, "perhaps two weeks ahead." His team have been busily doing attachage - tying the vines as they grow higher - with some strong winds rolling down the Valley.
The blip in the June profile came in the last week, with a sudden surge on 27-28 June to 35°C, even 38°C, an intense heat indeed. This was followed by temperatures down in the mid-20s°C, and north winds. By early July the weather is stable - sunny and breezy, the wind too strong at times for outdoor dining, the temperatures not passing 30°C.
At Gigondas in the Southern Rhône, Louis Barruol of Château Saint Cosme set the scene for his area: "I have never seen such a beautiful flowering as this year. I also do not think the soils are especially dry. At Gigondas our June rainfall reached around 26 mm (1 in), in rather wasteful amounts of about 3 to 5 mm at a time, which does not make much difference. Elsewhere, nearer the Rhône river, they have had more rain, around 60 to 80 mm. We are only about one week ahead, I would estimate."