A series of entries that centre on 2009, several from Gigondas, whose freshness contributed importantly to the quality of the 2009s. The authentic Domaine La Roubine, including their good Vacqueyras and Sablet, Pierre Amadieu, Saint-Damien, the extremely regular, STGT leaning Domaine du Pesquier, the always stimulating Château de Saint-Cosme, and the steady Château du Trignon. Added are one established Gigondas Domaine du Pourra, owned by the good doctor Jean-Christian Mayordome, and at Vacqueyras, a bright new grower and his Domaine d`Ouréa - making both Vacqueyras and Gigondas, starting out with the very promising 2010 vintage. Likewise, a recent young merchant based at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Romain Duvernay, has been included. His Northern Rhône selection, notably Hermitage red, has been successful in 2009.
From the Northern Rhône, have a look at François Villard at Condrieu - I note improvement in some of his whites since July 2010, with the malo in some cases taking until the middle of last summer to complete. Also at Hermitage, Maison Nicolas Perrin, the joint-venture between Nicolas Jaboulet and the Perrin family of Beaucastel; also the Vins de Vienne at Côte-Rôtie - emphasis on their Vins de Pays.
Under the left-hand tab 2009 Northern Rhône, please read about the 2009s in an often overlooked category, that of Côtes-du-Rhône and Vin de Pays reds and whites. These wines have a lot of personality, and frequently represent genuine value for money. In 2009 they are as rich as I have ever known them - a good vintage to buy at prices starting around £11 in GB and rising to dizzier heights when considering the accomplished Seyssuel Syrahs and Viogniers - the likes of Sotanum and Taburnum from Les Vins de Vienne.
visits and tastings have been entered on the following domaines, all seen in March 2011: at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Clos Saint Jean (lot of sugar in the 2009, so delayed bottling), Domaines Pierre André (longtime organic, very Grenache), Bosquet des Papes (Tradition v good value), Cristia (just bottled now), Marcoux, Pegau, Saint-Préfert, Pierre Usseglio, Raymond Usseglio. Mostly 2009 reds, some 2010 whites have been tasted. At Gigondas, the very accomplished Domaine La Bouissière - focus on 2009 also.
Recent domaines that have been brought up to date include the interesting Gigondas Mas des Restanques, where the style is refined and subtle. Two good Côtes du Rhône domaines are on the score sheet as well - the Domaine Coulange, which is making w.o.w. wines and the long-term classic Domaine La Réméjeanne, which I have known since the late 1970s. These are both in the Gard département west of Avignon. 2010 Tavel rosésare also being entered - a fresh and agreeable vintage.
mid-March 2011: following early March 2011 visits, two eminent domaines at Châteauneuf-du-Pape have been brought up to date: Domaine Monpertuis, where the red wine has STGT tendencies and the white wine is from the school of long-lived white Châteauneuf - the whites tasted back to 1998 and 1992. Also, I had a quick look in at the Château de Beaucastel, where tasting included the 2009 Hommage a Jacques Perrin and some villages 2009s that included Cairanne, along with 2010 grass roots whites. From Côte-Rôtie, 2009 and 2010 René Rostaing. My views on the excellence of the Northern Rhône 2010s have been stated before, and my enthusiasm continues unabated. I also had an agreeable check-up on René`s thickly set, excellent 2005 Côte Blonde.