as an example of what has happened in the Rhône this year, Patrick Jasmin’s Syrah from the Blonde comes in at 12.44°, very satisfactory. Colours are good in both NORTH and SOUTH, and the wines that I have tasted so far, ranging up to 4 weeks old, have had aromatic fruit and better, more profound tannins than 2011. Growers prefer the vintage to 2011, and consider the wines to have the structure to be successful and to live better than 2011. I do not disagree. Acidity levels were low at harvesting, but their fermentations have actually perked them up, with the malolactic fermentation changes still to come. Yields are low, often short by 20-25%. The whites are promising, too.
Growers are in the home straight now with their harvesting, the main activity concerning the later ripening, often higher zones such as GIGONDAS and VINSOBRES in the SOUTHERN RHÔNE. MARC PERRIN of CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL at CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE gave me the latest news from there: "we have completed 60% of our harvest, and haven’t yet started the Counoise and the Mourvèdre. It’s hot and fine now, so we will take the Mourvèdre ripening as far as we can, something like the 20 October of last year, when we harvested it at 13.5°, nothing excessive thanks to the Indian summer. We have picked our Syrah and 30% of our Grenache at VINSOBRES. We are 30% down on yields at BEAUCASTEL against 2011 – the story this year of having a lot of grapes but not a lot of juice in them.”
In the NORTHERN RHÔNE at CONDRIEU, CHRISTOPHE PICHON is near the end of his harvest season. He has vineyards spread around, and reported as follows: "we ended the harvesting of our domaine vineyards on 1 October, and will finish the crop from our merchant, négociant, vineyards by about the weekend 6 October. I am very agreeably surprised – the crop is belle, and so is the quality, and the grapes’ juice is good to taste. Fermentations are going very quickly, and I would like them to be a bit slower for quality reasons. Our Syrah at SAINT-JOSEPH is 12°-13°, the CONDRIEU Viognier 13.5°-14°, and the Syrah at CÔTE-RÔTIE is 12.5°-13.5°. Our yields are close to what is allowed.”
DOMINIQUE PERRET of DOMAINE ANDRÉ PERRET at CONDRIEU was relieved that the finishing line was in sight: "we finished harvesting on 2 October with our Vins de Pays vineyards, our last Condrieu Viognier picked the day before. Our yields are 10-20% down, with our Marsanne minus 20-25%. We have also had a very low crop on the hill of CHÉRY at CONDRIEU – the old vines did not perform well, and we may have to take them out (they date from 1948). Degrees are correct this year.”