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Growers report that vinifications have been proceeding well, with JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE at HERMITAGE devatting his last wines at the end of October, and SOUTHERN RHÔNE growers also well down the road. Other tasks currently are replanting of dead vines after the widespread loss from the February 2012 frosts and cold winds. Central government and EU aid has been channelled the way of growers to help with this large task. 

On the demand side of the wine trade, the market for the 2011s En Primeur starts to hot up, too. I receive e-mails from readers wondering if they should buy this or that 2011. In other words, they are being offered a wine that is not yet blended into its final form. Some of these wines cost €50 or more. It does amount to taking a bet, and in 2011, quality is not so gloriously widespread as it was in 2010. I will do my best to report back from the front with the latest news after tastings of over 450 NORTHERN RHÔNES this month, to be followed by CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE and GIGONDAS.