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THE HILL OF HERMITAGE SEEN FROM THE EAST: A MAJESTIC PERFORMANCE IN 2010, ONE OF THE BEST VINTAGES OF THE PAST 50 YEARS

Here is a summary of the vintage, rather than a full review. As I have stated several times before, I love 2010. It is a great vintage, truly. I recommend buying it.

The following Mozart Piano Concerto, number 20 in d, K466, the 2nd movement or Romanze, sums it up. How often do I reach for a musical metaphor??? Here I am truly stirred, and beckon WA to elucidate on the qualities of 2010 Côte-Rôtie. The clarity, the delicacy of the piano summons the wonderful floating elegance and purity of the Syrah fruit; the violins and orchestral surround wash gently on to the shores of the piano, just as the silken tannins embrace the fruit of 2010. Quelle joie. Please buy this vintage - I speak from precisely 40 years of experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_33zTtiWPA&feature=related

2010 CONDRIEU

I find 2010 resembles a mix of 2008 and 2009 at Condrieu; 2008 the year of good acidity, the 2009 the year of structure. It is an easy to drink vintage, with good body, and I rate it highly. Already I have tasted two 5-star wines from a limited amount, the Chapoutier new issue Coteau de Chéry taken from the vineyards of the Château du Rozay owned by the talented but disorganised Multier family, and the Delas Clos de Boucher, which is in part from the old Delas family vineyard. Both can live to 2020-22.  

As Christine Vernay put it to me: "2010 is a quite classic vintage, especially in relation to 2009 - 2010 has more nerve, 2009 is more fleshy. There is more terroir in 2010."François Merlin`s post harvest view in the third week of October was "2010 is superb. It has better  balance than 2009 - we have a high degree of 14.5° to 15°, even though I had to drop grapes and harvested around 40 hl/ha. But the pH of 3.50 is very good - compared to 3.70 or 3.80 usually. I find the wines so far a bit less what I would term "heavy" than the 2009s, they are fruited and very fine."

LEADING CONDRIEU 2010s

*****  M.Chapoutier Coteau de Chéry   2020-22  07/11  v terroir, then oak 
*****  Delas Clos Boucher  2020-22  06/11  well-filled, aromatic 
*****  E.Guigal La Doriane  2024-26  12/11  solid, meaty; tingle 
*****  R & R Niéro Héritage 2019-20  11/11  serious, caressing 
*****  Dom Georges Vernay Chaillées d`Enfer 2026-28  02/12  lovely, rich, subtle   
*****  Dom G Vernay Coteau de Vernon  2032-35  04/15  rich, long, strong 
*****  François Villard Deponcins  2020-21  12/11  sealed elegance 
****(*)  Yves Cuilleron La Petite Côte  2019-20  11/11  lots; red wine frame 
****(*) Domaine Faury La Berne 2018 09/12 considerable style
****(*)  André Perret Clos Chanson 2019-20  05/12  classic, subtle, deep 
****(*)  Dom Richard V Vignes de Martial  2016-17  11/11  precise, silken 
****(*)  Vins de Vienne vdpays Taburnum  2021-22  02/12  great; life, depth 
****  Gilles Barge La Solarie 2015  11/11  STGT, genuine 
****  Domaine de Bonserine  2015-16  11/11  a gd entity; balance 
****  M.Chapoutier Invitare  2016  06/11  free-going, clear 
****  Yves Culleron Ayguets  2024-26  11/11  intense, spiced 
****  Yves Cuilleron Les Chaillets  2018-19  11/11  bulky, glistening 
****  Yves Cuilleron Vertige  2022-24  02/12  tight, solid, oily 
**** Francois & Xavier Gérard Côte Châtillon 2024-26 10/12 robust, grounded
****  E.Guigal  2019-20  12/11  rolling fat but dry 
**** Dom du Monteillet Grandes Chailllées 2019-20 10/12 savoury, cosy
****  Michel & S Ogier La Combe de Malleval  2018  11/11  clean; rolling fruit 
****  M & S Ogier Vieilles Vignes J Vernay  2019  02/12  thorough, long, food 
****  André Perret Chéry 2020-22  05/12  beefy, deep 
****  René Rostaing La Bonnette  2019-20  12/11  reserved, interesting 
**** Christophe Semaska Lys d’Or 2025-27 04/16 compact, supple gras
****  Tardieu-Laurent  2019-20  11/11  abundant, thorough 
****  Dom G Vernay Terrasses Empire  2020-22  03/12  clear; Asiatic dishes 
****  François Villard Le Grand Vallon  2017-18  12/11  fresh, precise 
****  Vins de Vienne Les Archeveques  2015  11/11  authentic, restraint 
***(*)  Domaine Bernard Bassenon 2017  05/12  STGT, fat and rich 
***(*)  Yves Cuilleron Vertige  2017-18  11/11  chubby, needs time 
***(*)  Jean-Michel Gérin La Loye 2019-20  11/11  tight, firm 
***(*) Paul Jaboulet Aîné Dom Grands Amandiers 2018 09/13 elegance; fine fruits
***(*)  Gabriel Meffre Laurus  2016-17  11/11  deep, grounded 
***(*) Dom du Monteillet Chanson 2020-22 10/12 rich; high octane
***(*)  R & R Niéro Cuvée de Chéry 2016  11/11  honest, quite full 
***(*)  R & R Niéro Les Ravines 2014  11/11  mild, short-term 
***(*)  André Perret  2018  05/12  fine, firm, aromatic 
***(*) Domaine Christophe Pichon 2018-19 10/12 supple, fat
***(*) Domaine Christophe Pichon Caresse 2019-20 10/12 great nose; dumb
***(*)  Domaine Richard L`Amaraze  2016  11/11  STGT, discreet power 
***(*)  Saint Cosme   2017  01/12  intricate, not obvious 
***(*)  Vins de Vienne La Chambée 2016  11/11  thorough, fat coat 
***  Aurelien Chatagnier   2014  12/11  jelly baby Condrieu 
***  J-L Colombo Amour de Dieu   2014-15  06/11  apero; easy charm 
*** Delas La Galopine 2017-18 09/13 dumbing dn, frm 3.5 strs
*** Duseigneur Grande Réserve 2016 12/12 sound, bit lack body
*** Domaine Faury 2017-18 09/12 grainy; a bit charged
***  Gilles Flacher Les Rouelles  2015  12/11  full; firm finish 
***  François Villard Terrasses du Palat   2016  12/11  ripe, bit static 
***  Dom Les Alexandrins vdp Les Poupées  2014  11/11  fine, precise, v gd 
***  M & S Ogier vdpays Viognier de Rosine 2017  02/12  fine; aperitif 
***  G Vernay vdepays Pied de Samson  2015-16  07/11  supple, fresh 

2010 CORNAS

In unison with the rest of the Northern Rhône Syrahs, Cornas has done very well. The wines are rich, but also carry fresh tannins, a winning combination. They are open, and well-balanced. Thiérry Allemand stated: "2010 became very good. It was not like that at the start, but took on body after two months, being quite firm and tannic. I harvested 26 August, 2010 - the crop was too ripe - I had to pick then." Anne Colombo finds that 2010 "has more vivacity than 2009, the balance is better. It is more Northern Rhône than 2009, which is rather southern in style."

Pierre Clape commented as follows: "2010 is a very pretty vintage. Degrees were between 14° and 14.5°, but the 60mm (2.4 in) rainstorm around 6-7 September helped to stabilise the degree at that, not higher. In truth, so dry has it been that two days after that rain you wouldn`t have known that anything had fallen, so thirsty were the vineyards. The wines are a bit more fresh than the 2009s, and are on less on over-ripeness than the 2009s."

So it is a vintage to buy, and to enjoy. Their balance will allow them to live, even if they show flamboyantly right at the start. After tasting a large amount of them in November, 2011, I find them led by their harmony and balance. 2010 is a rich Cornas vintage, with its often notably grainy tannins infused into the wines from a very early stage. Such is their balance and exuberance of fruit that some are even w.o.w. (what one wants) wines - highly unusual for Cornas, whereby they can be drunk with a wide variety of dishes, even providing amusement without food. Quite extraordinary.

2010 is the most successful fruit year that I have known at Cornas in 40 years, across many domaines. I think of sunny vintages, perhaps 1985. 1990 was a more full sun, solar vintage, as was 1999, and 2009 has more power and charge. The beauty here is the finesse and the balance.

I suspect that this could be a vintage that makes Cornas a discovery for a wider audience, so do not expect prices to remain entirely reasonable. My advice would be to buy en primeur, I have to say. The balance in the wines will allow a 15 to 20 year life, but I suspect their delicious nature will have depleted stocks some time before then.

LEADING CORNAS 2010s

****** Domaine Clape 2042-45 10/12 lovely togetherness
******  Thiérry Allemand Reynard 2038-41  10/12  high style; authentic 
***** Thiérry Allemand Chaillot 2033-35 10/12 complete, vigorous
***** Franck Balthazar Chaillot 2032-34 11/12 Big Beast Cornas
***** Domaine Clape Renaissance 2032-34 10/12 complex, interesting
*****  Domaine Courbis Les Eygats  2026-29  11/11  typical inside its oak 
*****  Domaine Courbis La Sabarotte  2027-28  11/11  fat, bundles of fruit 
*****  Dumien-Serrette Patou   2025-28  11/11  feminine wiles, true 
*****  D Michelas St Jemms Terres dArce  2026-28  11/11  bright, genuine, oaked 
*****  Vincent Paris Granit 60  2028-30  11/11  savoury, thorough 
*****  Tardieu-Laurent Vieilles Vignes  2026-28  11/11  core richness, oak 
*****  Alain Voge Les Vieilles Vignes  2027-29  11/11  bright, long, STGT 
****(*) Matthieu Barret/Coulet Billes Noires 2030-32 10/15 firm, manly, cool
****(*) Cave de Tain Arènes Sauvages 2028-29 11/12 rich-hearted; abundant
****(*)  Jean-Luc Colombo La Louvée  2023-25  06/11  Cornas grain; solid 
****(*)  Domaine Courbis Champelrose  2026-28  11/11  clear fruit, international 
****(*) Delas Chante Perdrix 2028-30 11/12 rich; warm soils wine
****(*)  Domaine Durand Prémices  2026-28  11/11  muscular, needs time 
****(*)  Pierre Gaillard  2024-26  11/11  juicy, modern, enjoyable 
****(*)  Dom Lionnet Terre Brûlée  2029-31  07/11  balanced, genuine 
****(*) Vincent Paris La Geynale 2030-32 01/16 full, closely lined, STGT
****(*)  Tardieu-Laurent Coteaux  2023-25  11/11  squeezy, bendy, sweet 
****(*)  Domaine du Tunnel  2024-26  02/12  insistent fruit; fine 
****(*)  Alain Voge Les Vieilles Fontaines  2022-24  11/11  sappy; w.o.w. in youth 
****  Matthieu Barret Brise Cailloux  2024-26  02/12  grainy after bottling, good 
**** Cave de Tain 2023-25 11/12 rich; firm tannins
****  J-L Colombo Les Ruchets  2026-28  06/11  agile fruit, long 
****  Domaine Durand Confidence  2027-28  11/11  firm oak, no hurry 
**** Maxime Graillot equis 2026-27 11/12 Wild Child, demanding
****  Dom P & V Jaboulet  2025-27  11/11  stiff oak, ferrous, wait 
**** Jacques Lemenicier  2023-25  11/11  good guts, traditional 
****  Vincent Paris Granit 30  2022-23  09/12  drinkability, w.o.w. 
****  Alain Voge Les Chaillés 2022-23  11/11  w.o.w. supple, pretty 
***(*) Franck Balthazar Casimir Balthazar 2026-27 11/12 generous, gd resto wine
***(*)  M.Chapoutier Les Arènes   2024-27  07/11  Cornas from 2015, fresh 
***(*)  J-L Colombo Terres Brûlées  2024-26  06/11  gd frame; fruit vigour 
***(*)  J-L Colombo Vallon de l`Aigle  2025-26  06/11  enclosed; has spine 
***(*)  Maison Nicolas Perrin  2025-27  11/11  attractive, cld be deeper 
***(*)  Yves Cuilleron Les Vires  2020-24  11/11  supple, bendy, varietal 
***(*)  Domaine Durand Empreintes  2023-25  11/11  Regular Guy, mainstream 
***(*)  Ferraton Les Grands Mûriers  2025-27  02/12  clear-cut; dark grain 
***(*)  Vins de Vienne Les Barcillants  2025-27  11/11  correct, oily, oaked 
***  Dom Michelas St Jemms Murettes 2021-22  11/11  cellar-style wine 

2010 CÔTE-RÔTIE

This is where I get very jiggy, dangerously jiggy. What fruit, what balance, what richness. What an ensemble. I fell in love with this vintage in November last year, and readers will know that I have been dropping hints about it ever since. I did actually suggest to Jean-Paul Jamet after tasting just two of his lieu-dits the word "1978", for the wines literally had that sort of instant recall as I tasted them. 1978 was never a gruff vintage, its balance was superb, and it has been hailed in the pantheon of Great Rhône Vintages. We will see whether 2010 can reach those heights, but it is certainly is starting in the right way. Yum Yum.

With vineyards in the southern sector, Stéphane Bernard of Domaine Bernard told me: "2010 has a bit less matter than 2009 Côte-Rôtie, but the balance is better regarding the alcohol and the acidity. The veraison (change of colour of grapes) was difficult this year - at the end of August, the vines did not move much. Our yield this year was over 39 hl/ha, a good amount." Likewise, from the south, Yves Gangloff commented: "I made 36 hl/ha this year, against 42 hl/ha in 2009, when I wanted quantity to offset the power of the vintage. My 2010 is 13° to 13.5°. The plot distinction has been less marked this year than in 2009, but it may evolve through that. I am not sure 2010 will have the elegance of the 2009. 2010 is a beau, classic vintage." What impressed me chez Gangloff was the performance of his 2002-2010 Syrah young vines on Combard - a full, gutsy, aromatic wine.

Both Jean-Paul Jamet - smiles rather than words when first asked about 2010 - and René Rostaing are very keen on 2010. M.Rostaing, for instance: "2010 is a grandiose year - structure, finesse, precision. It has everything.  It is clearly better than 2009."

The wines will live well, too. They are definitively good. There.

LEADING CÔTE-RÔTIE 2010s

******  Gilles Barge Côte Brune  2036-38  05/12  packed; Grand Vin 
******  Delas La Landonne  2027-29  11/12  interesting, fulfilling
******  Pierre Gaillard Rose Pourpre  2025-26  11/11  so floral, aromatic 
******  Domaine Garon Les Rochins  2031-33  10/12  wholesome, fresh 
******  E.Guigal La Landonne  2040-44  11/15  compact, lifted, fab promise
******  E.Guigal La Mouline  2036-39  12/11  style, serious heart 
******  E.Guigal La Turque  2038-40  12/11  brilliant flow; deep 
****** Domaine Jamet Côte Brune 2039-42 05/13 class, complex joy, complete
******  M&S Ogier Lancement  2032-35  12/11  complex, long, fine 
******  René Rostaing Côte Blonde  2041-45  11/15  outstanding; a Beauty 
****** Saint Cosme La Viallière 2038-40 12/12 STGT; fascinating, classic 
******  Jean-Michel Stéphan 2027-29  02/12  sublime; BUT Brett issues
*****  Domaine Gilles Barge Du Plessy  2025-27  05/12  gt balance, fresh, racy 
*****  Domaine Bernard Cotx de Bassenon  2029-31  05/12  stylish gras, tasty 
*****  Dom Bernard Cote Rozier  2033-34  05/12  tight packing, sturdy 
***** Dom P&C Bonnefond Les Rochains 2029-31 11/13 full, very joli, generous
*****  Dom de Bonserine La Garde  2027-30  11/11  intense, balanced 
*****  Dom de Bonserine La Viallière 2024-26  11/11  refined, soft, juiced 
*****  Bernard Burgaud  2028-31  06/11  generous, deep 
*****  M.Chapoutier La Mordorée  2033-35  11/13  big, fluid, elegant, lovely
*****  Clusel-Roch La Viallière  2025-27  11/11  serene, fine, velvet 
***** Delas Seigneur de Maugiron 2024-26 05/13 STGT; magic terroir-vintage
*****  Domaine Duclaux Maison-Rouge  2024-26  11/11  STGT, character 
***** Francois & Xavier Gérard 2025-27 10/12 pure, lovely truth
***** E.Guigal Le Château d'Ampuis 2035-38 10/15 very rich, fine, long
***** Domaine Jamet 2035-38 05/13 abundance, freshness, 5.5 strs
***** Vignobles Levet Peroline/Chavaroche  2033-35 12/13 STGT; thorough, character
***** Dom du Monteillet Fortis 2030-32 10/12 rich, deep, stylish
*****  M&S Ogier Belle Hélène 2032-34  12/11  healthy ripeness; snap 
***** Stéphane Pichat Les Grandes Places 2030-32 10/12 volume, depth; long
***** René Rostaing Ampodium 2032-34 05/13 clear, steely, balanced
***** René Rostaing La Landonne 2038-40 11/15 absorbing, fine, dense, v sure
***** Saint Cosme 2028-30 12/12 aromatic, fine; great finish 
*****  Pierre-Jean Villa Carmina  2026-28  06/11  STGT; great purity 
*****  Vins de Vienne Les Essartailles  2025-27  11/11  v precise fruit; ping 
****(*)  Gilles Barge Le Combard  2026-28  05/12  muscled vigour 
****(*) Dom P&C Bonnefond Côte Rozier 2029-32 11/13 meaty, full, flinty, sustained
****(*) Clusel-Roch Classique 2034-36 11/16 handsome, detailed, interest
****(*)  Clusel-Roch Les Gdes Places  2025-27  11/11  harmony, round, fluid 
****(*)  Domaine Duclaux La Germine  2024-26  11/11  trad, lip-smacking 
****(*) Domaine Garon Les Triotes 2028-30 10/12 crackle, promise, gusto
****(*) E.Guigal Brune et Blonde 2033-36 10/15 savoury, great depth
****(*) Vignobles Levet Améthyste 2028-30 12/13 full, genuine, traditional
****(*)  Domaine Niéro Vires de Serine 2024-26  11/11  stylish gras; oak 
****(*) M&S Ogier Réserve du Domaine 2034-36 11/15 shapely, good heart, length
****(*)  Domaine de Rosiers  2023-26  06/11  STGT, finesse, elegant 
****(*) Dom Georges Vernay Maison Rouge 2029-30 11/13 balance, character, precision
**** Dom P&C Bonnefond Colline Couzou 2029-31 11/13 abundant, juicy; good heart
****  Dom de Bonserine La Sarrasine  2023-25  11/11  accomplished fruit 
****  Yves Cuilleron Terres Sombres  2021-23  11/11  gourmand, modern 
****  Pierre Gaillard   2021-23  11/11  fatness, richness 
**** Domaine Gallet 2028-29 10/15 free, long, plenty
****  Jean-Michel Gérin La Viallière 2023-25  11/11  fat, gourmandise 
**** Domaine Jasmin 2030-32 10/12 brewed, interesting
**** Vignobles Levet Maestria 2032-34 10/12 raw goods, time
****  Domaine Niéro  2020-22  11/11  early, textured, w.o.w. 
****  Ogier Cave des Papes La Serine  2024-26  11/11  traditional, steely 
**** Stéphane Pichat Champon's 2025-27 10/12 chunky; hand made
**** Chr Pichon Comtesse en Côte Blonde 2025-27 10/12 plump, textured
**** Christophe Pichon Rozier 2025-26 10/12 future STGT; shapely
**** Christophe Semaska Chât de Montlys 2029-32 04/16 precise fruit, lot going on
****  Vins de Vienne Les Archeveques  2022-24  11/11  measured, mineral 
***(*)  Dom Bernard Les Meandres  2022-24  05/12  Solid Citizen, ripe
***(*) Domaine Faury Reviniscence 2023-24 09/12 subtle, be patient
***(*)  André François Gerine 2021-23  11/11  traditional, bit wild 
***(*) Domaine Garon La Sybarine 2023-25 10/12 abundant, long
***(*)  Tardieu-Laurent  2024-26  11/11  v modern, cellar wine 
***(*) Dom Grges Vernay Blonde du Seigneur 2024-26 03/13 fine, Burgundian, slow burn
***(*) GAEC Daniel, Roland & Gisèle Vernay 2027-28 12/13 mineral, true; careful fruit
***(*)  François Villard Le Gallet Blanc 2020-21  11/11  round; a safe do 
***  Aurélien Chataignier 2021-23  11/11  bit stretched 
***  J-Michel Gérin Champin le Seigneur  2021-23  11/11  mulled, cooked fruit 

2010 CROZES-HERMITAGE RED

2010 was made for the Syrah at Crozes-Hermitage. As a vintage of fresh, free-flowing fruit, it exemplifies what Crozes should be - packed with drinkable, juicy, stimulating wines that show the exuberance of the Syrah without any need for make-up or confection. The classic cuvées that are low on oak are entertaining and easily quaffable, and I heartily recommend them on a value basis as well.

Their drinking can be done standing up in a bar, sitting in a bistrot with a variety of food flavours and textures to come, or with groups of friends at a barbecue or a relaxed supper party: they deserve convivial surroundings.

The more serious wines made from older vines and given some young oak are full of profound content, and need a little time - maybe until 2014 - to start to show their expanded quality. Some, such as the Graillot Guiraude and the Chapoutier Les Varonniers, have reached that near-Hermitage status that is rare for red Crozes: not the first time for the Guiraude - I think of the still young 1990 - nor for the Varonniers, whose 2005 was extremely intense.

Yann Chave gave me a long and well-explained view on 2010 in November, 2011, making a correct comparison with 2009: "whereas 2009 was a Châteauneuf-du-Pape influence year, 2010 is a Burgundy-influenced vintage - the two are completely different. Intellectually, it will be very interesting to taste the two vintages together in 7 or 8 years - the top cuvées such as Clos des Grives etc. There is belle matter in the 2010s, a bit less imposing than 2009. My classic is 13° not too high, while acidities are good and tannins are ripe, although you did have to wait for the tannins. 2010 has more breeding (race) than 2009, which is more crushed, has more matter and a higher degree. 2009 is 13.5° to 14°, 2010 is 13°, for instance. Remember that July 2009 was very hot. The combination of acidity, alcohol and tannin in 2010 is rare, meaning it is a year of good balance."

It is noticeable that yields swung pretty widely in 2010, a lot to do with quality and commercial policy at individual domaines. I feel that Crozes is still an appellation where estates work at different speeds, where some set themselves much higher demands than others. It is the one northern Rhône area that encompasses space - 1,200 hectares or so, and facility - machine harvesting, mass production in some cases. I exclude the northern villages such as Larnage and Gervans, of course, where things are more manual.

Thus quality measures such as green harvesting - needed in 2011, for instance, is not a given across the board, and the highly controversial allowing of oak chips - a complete scandal in my view - is written into the recent rules of the appellation. This was a very messy trade-off for allowing some wines to go on early release, with politics at the heart of the decision rather than the objective welfare of the appellation. Do people know about oak chips being allowed at Crozes? I very much doubt it, and the growers probably want to keep it that way.

Thus 2010 yields, to take a few examples vary between 45 hl/ha at Domaine Pochon and Etienne Becheras, 42 hl/ha at Michelas St Jemms, 41 hl/ha at Domaine du Pavillon at Mercurool, 40 hl/ha at Pierre Gaillard, 38 hl/ha at Remizières, 35 hl/ha for Natacha Chave at Aléofane, 33 hl/ha at Dom de la Ville Rouge, 30 hl/ha at Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet, 25 hl/ha at the new Le Domaine de Lucie. The Jaboulet pedigree, given that father and son work on Les Chassis not far from some of those cited, comes through here.

Growers` enthusiasm for 2010 is evident, quite rightly so. Franck Faugier, hard-working owner of Domaine des Hauts Chassis, has produced three grand wines in 2010: "2010 was a late ripening, very balanced year, certainly more balanced than 2009. I like it stylistically, since it is also fresh and has a real Crozes style of gourmand ease, unlike 2009. The crop was very beautiful, so much so that I tried one vat with whole bunches. We picked ten days later than 2010. 2010 resembles 2006 for me, given that I only started in 2003 - it has fruit, gourmandise, and 2011 is similar."

Alain Graillot, now reaching veteran status, at least wise counsellor, reflected thus on 2010: "it is in the line of 1989 and 1995 - years of a lot of sun, very little rain and considerable tannic charge. The big aim is to have fresh fruit. In 2010 we actually waited for the rain to come to the aid of the vineyard - that`s a rare event. It rained on 23-24 September, and that unblocked the vines, so we harvested two days later in the space of seven to ten days. The grapes needed that 30 mm (1.2 in) of storm rain, which was followed by the North wind to clean things up."

After the long winter leading into 2010, the growing season had started 15 days behind in the early part of 2010, but then caught up. Flowering was very belle, and lasted one week. After that it became very dry, and the vine stopped moving forwards. August weather was not great - the freshness of the vintage was established during this month, after some heat in late June and July. Storms were not a factor because the weather was generally less hot than in some years.

Another example of 2010`s classic qualities was the date of harvesting when compared to 2009. For Maxime Graillot, for instance, he started 0n 7 September in 2009, against 25 September in 2010. "We had cold mornings at the harvest - so the grapes came in cool, which meant that pre-fermentation cooling took time this year," he told me later in the year. "We destem, but don`t crush, so there is a slow liberation of sugar. It is a classic, a true pleasure vintage, perhaps a little like 2006, is very gourmand, and has beau tannins that are very fine." He added that a good ripeness was not achieved everywhere at Crozes, simply because not all sites are south-facing, and well-exposed. 

The northern sector has performed extremely well this year as well. I find the red fruit grace extremely enticing this year, with the word "subtle" occurring in my notes. The tannins are always fine from these granite slope villages, and in 2010 their youth displays a light sprinkle of powder, noting like decomposition, just a sure-footed and light touch of restraint present in the wines.

Laurent Habrard has made an STGT red in 2010, a really natural child of its place. He commented: "I prefer 2010 to 2009 - it is more silken, more profound. 2009 is more tannic, austere, and will be drinkable later than 2010." Also at Gervans, his neighbour Pascal Fayolle of Domaine des Martinelles stated: "2010 Syrahs have pretty fruit, are quite fresh, possess good balance, with a bit less core than 2009; there is an attractive aromatic composition to the reds." At Larnage, beyond the eastern end of the Hernitage hill, Marc Sorrel found 2010 less rich than 2009; "after vinification, it was quite acidic, but the malolactics have rounded it well," he told me. His 2010 crop was 25% down on the 2009 level, off the slope vineyards there.

The conclusion is simple, thus. This is a vintage that should be bought for drinking at home, or when on an evening out. The wines will not disappoint. The special cuvées will run well over 10 to 12 years. Bonne dégustation. 

LEADING CROZES-HERMITAGE 2010 REDS

*****  M.Chapoutier Les Varonniers  2028-30  07/11  quality, variety, STGT 
*****  Alain Graillot La Guiraude  2027-30  11/11  dark, penetrating, long 
***** Dom Michelas St Jemms Cuvée N°29 2030-33 10/15 structure, gt freshness
***** Dom de la Ville Rouge Terre d'Eclat 2017 05/12 great style; w.o.w.
****(*)  Dom Les Bruyères Georges Reynaud 2018  11/11  ace example of Crozes 
****(*)  Yann Chave Le Rouvre  2021-22  11/11  mini-Hermitage; gras 
****(*)  Domaine Combier Clos des Grives  2023-25  03/12  thorough, also free 
****(*)  Olivier Dumaine La Croix du Verre  2019-20  12/11  STGT, jungley, v long 
****(*) Dom Fayolle Fils & Fille Les Cornirets  2024-25 09/12 classy; local grain
****(*) Ferraton Père & Fils La Matinière 2027-29 10/15 max gras, wonderful
****(*)  Domaine Jeanne Gaillard  2018-19  11/11  charm, finesse, joli 
****(*) E Guigal 2026-28 10/15 great balance, very long
****(*)  Dom des Hauts Chassis Les Chassis 2020-21  11/11  rolling juice; fresh 
****(*)  Dom du Murinais Vieilles Vignes  2020-21  11/11  classy; shapely fruit 
****(*) Gilles Robin Alberic Bouvet 2024-26 12/15 long, fresh, complete
****  Domaine Belle Les Pierrelles  2020-21  12/11  STGT, also w.o.w. 
****  Cave de Clairmont Pionniers  2018  11/11  easy drink, true Crozes 
**** Cave de Tain Les Hauts du Fief 2023-24 11/12 meaty, robust, tannic
**** Cave de Tain Selection Première 2023-24 11/13 progress, depth, frm 3 st
****  Yann Chave Tradition  2019  11/11 juicy; reduced 
****  Domaine Combier   2020-21  03/12  complete, drinkable 
****  Dard & Ribo Les Rouge des Bâties    2019-20  03/12  crisp fruit; cool drink 
**** Delas Le Clos 2021-23 11/12 upright, not obvious
**** Delas Dom des Grands Chemins 2023-24 11/12 honest local depth
****  Delas Les Launes  2018-19  05/12  up frm **(*); plenty 
****  Emmanuel Darnaud Mise en Bouche  2019-20  12/11  snappy 2010 fruit 
****  Emmanuel Darnaud Trois Chenes  2018-19 12/11  flair; w.o.w. 
****  Domaine des Entrefaux Les Pends  2020-22  11/11  rich; delicious fruit 
****  Equis equinox   2019  03/12  w.o.w. plus extras 
****  Fayolle Fils & Fille Les Pontaix  2023-24  09/12  modern fruit; firm tannin 
****  Ferraton Les Pichères   2022-23  02/12  subtle depth; beau 
****  Domaine Alain Graillot  2022-24  11/11  density, purity, quality 
****  Domaine Habrard  2017-18  11/11  STGT; rounded, long 
****  Dom des Hauts Chassis Les Galets  2019-20  11/11  lissom appeal, charm 
****  Paul Jaboulet Ainé Dom Thalabert 2020-21  05/12  solid; clean fruit 
****  Philippe & Vince Jaboulet Nouvelère 2018  11/11  bang on Crozes, racy 
**** Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne 2020-21 10/12 crystalline, reserved
****  Michelas St Jemms La Chasselière 2018-19  11/11  deep; salty clarity 
****  Dom du Murinais Les Amandiers  2018-19  11/11  w.o.w. tasty fruit 
****  Ogier Oratorio  2019-20  11/11  solid plus fruit spark 
**** Gilles Robin 920 2020-21 11/13 sturdy, rich heart, serious
****  E Pochon  2017-18  11/11  fun Crozes, w.o.w. 
****  Dom des Remizières Christophe  2019-20  11/11  restrained, promise 
**** Saint Cosme 2022-23 12/12 STGT; fine, scented 
****  Dom de la Ville Rouge Inspiration  2019-20  11/11  fresh, clear fruit, v 2010 
****  Les Vins de Vienne Les Palignons  2020-22  11/11  clear; gradual progress 
***(*)  Louis Bernard Le Hameau  2018  05/12  spiced; hidden corners 
***(*)   Brunel P et Fils Brunel de la Gardine  2017-18  05/12  good typicity, doing well 
***(*)  Dom Les Bruyères Les Croix 2018  11/11  supple drinking 
***(*)  Cave de Clairmont Immanence  2018-19  11/11  promise; gradual gain
****  Domaine du Colombier  2020-21  05/12  up from ***(*)
****(*)  Dom du Colombier Cuvée Gaby 2023-24  05/12  up from ***(*) 
***(*)  Cave de Tain  2017  05/12  harmony, drinkability 
***(*)  Laurent Combier Cuvée L 2016-17  11/11  gracious, floral, clear  
***(*)  E Pochon Chateau Curson   2020-21  12/11  v modern, oaked; cool 
***(*)  Colombo & Fille 2015  05/12  pleasing, drink now 
***(*)  Romain Duvernay  2016  05/12  tasty; 2010 freedom 
***(*)  Domaine des Entrefaux  2016-17  11/11  STGT and w.o.w. - rare 
***(*) Fayolle Fils & Fille Sens 2019-20 09/12 aromatic, reserved
***(*)  Dom des Hauts Chassis Esquisse  2017  11/11  gd drink; core Syr fruit 
***(*)  Domaine des Lises  2016-17  11/10  gras, bright wine 
***(*)  Domaine des Martinelles  2017-18  11/11  honest drinking 
***(*)  Michelas St Jemms Terres d`Arce  2017-18  11/11  fresh; expressive 
****  Nicolas Perrin  2018-19  05/12  on the up; complete 
***(*)  Domaine Pradelle  2018-19  05/12  up from **(*) 
***(*)  Dom Rousset Les Picaudières  2017-19  11/11  harmony; light touch 
***(*)  Tardieu-Laurent Vieilles Vignes  2021-23  11/11  set to deepen, gd fruit 
***(*)  Les Vins de Vienne  2016-17  11/11  rounded, scented 
***  Domaine Belle Louis Belle  2021-23  12/11  not yet ensemble 
***  Domaine Betton Caprice  2018-19  11/11  but 02/12 * poor bot 
***  Domaine Champal Chaubayou  2017-18  11/11  earthy, grounded 
***  M.Chapoutier Les Meysonniers  2018-19  07/11  scented, soft 
***  M.Chapoutier Petite Ruche  2017-18  07/11  potential, w.o.w.  
***  Jean-Luc Colombo La Tuilère  2015  05/12  fair squeeze fruit 
***  Dauvergne Ranvier Vin Rare  2017-18  11/11  scented fruit; tar 
*(*)  Gabriel Meffre Laurus  2016-17  06/12  dn frm ***; acidity
*** Jean-Luc Colombo Les Fées Brunes 2017-18 05/12 smoky, oak, time
***  Domaine Melody Premier Regard  2017-18  05/12  juice, dust; food best 
***  Domaine Mucyn  2016-17  11/11  clear, floral, fine 
***  Ogier Les Brunnelles  2016  05/12  short-term, ready now 
***  Domaine du Pavillon-Mercurol  2019-20  11/11  fruit to come; sleek oak 
***  Dom des Remizières Particulière 2020-21  11/11  spinal; bright fruit 
***  Gilles Robin Papillon  2016  02/12  calm, easy, smooth 
***  Dom Saint Clair Fleur Enchantée  2019-20  11/11  bit mechanical; wait 
*** Saint Cosme Tiercerolles 2020-21 12/12 open book, smoky
***  J Vidal-Fleury  2016-17  05/12  powerful, big, sweet 

2010 CROZES-HERMITAGE WHITE

The white Crozes-Hermitages are superb in 2010. I started to drink some after the summer of 2011, and thought, "wow"! They carry exemplary richness, real genuine depth and a most appealing fullness, with no oxidative hints that can sometimes be present at Crozes. Nor are they tame - again, Crozes whites can be mild, a little dull and pleasant for a simple aperitif over the course of 18 to 24 months. Not so in 2010.

I would rate the vintage here ahead of 2004, which was very successful; these have a little more acidity and nerve, and when tasting them I found notes extolling a wide variety of dishes - fish, lobster, sweetbreads, celery (the fat of the vintage works really well, so also asparagus), and Japanese ramen soups and dishes were also evoked.

The growers are content, with the Burgundy-leaning Alain Graillot finding 2010 white Crozes-Hermitage "my sort of vintage - balance, freshness, really sympa wines. But they were tricky to vinify - fermentations stopped." A grower who has an agile hand with his whites from the granite slopes at Gervans, northern sector, is Laurent Habrard: "I am very happy with my white this year, as I am for 2009 and 2011. 2009 was perhaps the most distinguished year, with the best harmony. The nose on the 2010 is very fine and subtle, then that leads on to some heat on the palate."

Absolutely enthused about the whites in 2010 was Yann Chave: "2010 is freer and fresher than 2009 - it is an exceptional, outstanding year, the best the region has made. It is ripe, but acidities are good thanks to the fresh weather in August. For once, ripeness and acidity come hand in hand, with a lot of gras. Degrees aren`t high, and even for Hermitage they only go up to 13.5°. There is good balance. Going back, 2004 is a bit richer, 2010 is more loose and relaxed."

Pascal Fayolle of Domaine des Martinelles at Gervans told me: "2010 white has good balance, is rather elegant, holds a good sucrosity and acidity - the crop was healthy, and we were at 13° to 13.2°." A little south at Larnage, the skilled white maker Olivier Dumaine, whose wines are often STGT, reported: "the 2010 whites have more nerve than 2009, bear more fruit, are better balanced and can live for 4 years or so. The malos took time to complete."

The balance and fat depth of the wines indicate a more extended life than usual - three to five years for many, the best capable of a little longer than that. Enjoy the glorious and wholesome features of this vintage, a year when people not used to Rhône whites should try them à table - they are a real treat. 

LEADING CROZES-HERMITAGE 2010 WHITES

*****  Domaine des Entrefaux Les Pends  2016-17  11/11  STGT; not obvious 
****(*)  Domaine Combier  2017-18  11/11  fine tune, stylish 
****(*)  Domaine Pradelle Courbis  2016  11/11  style, elegant, character 
****  Yann Chave  2016  11/11  30% R; exotic fruit 
****  Olivier Dumaine Croix du Verre  2019-20  11/11  STGT; fine, supple 
****  Domaine Habrard  2015-16  11/11  delicate; well-filled 
 **** Michelas St Jemms Signature  2018  11/11  minor Hermtge blanc 
****  Domaine Mucyn  2019  11/11  fat, also pure 
****  Dom des Remizières Particulière  2018-19  11/11  fattish, precise 
****  Domaine Saint Clair un matin . . .  2017-18  11/11  supple, elegant 
****  Marc Sorrel  2021-23  11/11  STGT; complete, free 
***(*)  Domaine Belle Terres Blanches  2015-16  11/11  aperitif; elegant 
***(*)  Cave de Tain Les Hauts d`Eole  2016-17  11/11  w.o.w; salty, early, free 
***(*)  Dard & Ribo Pé du Loup 2019-20  03/12  body; typical Marsanne 
***(*)  Domaine des Entrefaux  2015-16  11/11  authentic, good nerve 
***(*)  Domaine Alain Graillot  2015-16  11/11  gras with finesse 
***(*)  E.Guigal  2019-20  12/11  rich, also saline 
***(*)  Dom Fayolle Fils & Fille Les Pontaix  2016-17  11/11  wiry, tangy; time 
***(*)  Dom Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet  2017-18  11/11  refined, purposeful 
***(*)  Domaine des Martinelles  2017  11/11  gras lacing, fresh 
***(*)  Dom des Remizières Christophe  2019-20  11/11  chunky; needs foods 
***(*)  J Vidal-Fleury  2017  01/12  great aperitif; w.o.w. 
*** Domaine Betton  2016  02/12  tender, natural 
***  Cave de Clairmont Classique 2016  11/11  rich texture; solo 
***  Domaine Alain Graillot  2014  11/11  pliant, round 
***  Le Domaine de Lucie Pitchounettes 2015  11/11  fat, volume; food 
***  Etienne Pochon  2016-17  11/11  restrained; aperitif 
*** Dom de la Ville Rouge Cuvee Nathan 2016 11/12 rich, oily; foods
***  Les Vins de Vienne  2016-17  02/12  refined, polished 
**(*)  M.Chapoutier Petite Ruche  2018-19  06/11  tight; foods best 
**(*)  Jean-Luc Colombo Les Gravières 2014  06/11  easy, early, apero 
**(*)  Delas Les Launes  2015  06/11  round, easy access 
**(*)  Domaine Hauts Chassis L`Essentiel  2014-15  11/11  flattering, early vin 
**(*)  Domaine Rousset  2018-19  11/11  subdued; more fruit pls 

  

2010 HERMITAGE RED

2010 is excellent here, but it is less obviously marvellous than Côte-Rôtie, and, indeed, is marked by the 2010 hallmark, namely freshness. A very good sign is that no excess power is evident, as in the Chapoutier parcellaire range with obvious candidates for ripeness being the big-south facing Le Méal and its sidekick Les Greffieux. All the Syrahs end constructively and clearly. They can live for 25-30 years, their balance is supremely good.

Jacques Grange of Delas sees it this way: "2010 is air-filled, tight, precise. It is not a high  degree year - our Bessards is at most 13.5°. 2010 is less homogenous than 2009, but the best wines are superior to the 2009s." Jean-Louis Chave`s view: "2010 is a finesse vintage, the wines clear and elegant."

I rate 2010 as a vintage whose tone is set by the hierarchy of the hill: the West end sites, with more granite, and less alluvial influence, have outperformed the East end sites. This herds the quality towards the high profile names -Chave, Chapoutier, Delas. Note that Martinelles and Colombier have done well, with fruit taken from Beaume and Greffieux, both pedigree sites around the middle of the appellation.

With the East end wines, I am often a little deceived by relatively workmanlike features; the Cornas 2010s, for instance, often display more character and flair, their fruit absolutely lovely.

Longevity for these wines will be around 15 years, but the best, with balance a prime asset, will live for twenty-five years.

on the WHITE Hermitage, I would add that 2010 beckons much promise, with degrees over 14.0°, but again, no sense of cloying. Their balance indicates a long life ahead.

LEADING HERMITAGE 2010 REDS

****** Cave de Tain Gambert de Loche 2037-40 01/15 STGT; fresh, gras, balanced
******  M.Chapoutier L`Ermite  2041-44  07/11  high grade fruit 
******  M.Chapoutier Le Méal   2035-38  07/11  generous pleasure 
******  Domaine Jean-Louis Chave  2049-55  11/12  depth, length, nuance
******  Delas Les Bessards  2040-43  11/12  Limo Service, classy 
****** Bernard Faurie [Greffieux + Meal/Bess] 2039-43 11/12 up to 1929, 1978
******  Bernard Faurie [Bessards-Méal]  2031-34  11/11  noble climat speak 
*****  M.Chapoutier Les Greffieux  2034-36  07/11  restrained, polished 
*****  M.Chapoutier Le Pavillon  2038-42  07/11  clear, structured 
*****  Dauvergne Ranvier Vin Rare  2026-28  11/11  muscle; good future 
*****  Delas Domaine des Tourettes  2036-38  11/12  grounded Hermitage 
*****  Ferraton Le Méal  2033-34  02/12  poise, style; bright fruit 
***** E.Guigal Ex-voto 2034-37 12/14 boundless fruit, long
*****  Domaine des Martinelles  2023-25  11/11  stylish, plenty here 
*****  Marc Sorrel Le Gréal  2031-33  11/11  STGT, elegant, pure 
****(*) Cave de Tain 2033-36 01/15 grass roots, genuine
****(*)  M.Chapoutier M de la Sizeranne  2030-33  07/11  rolling fruit; clear 
****(*) Domaine du Colombier  2030-32 11/13 fresh, long balanced
****(*)  Bernard Faurie [Greffieux-Bessards]  2028-31  11/11  restrained, spinal, STGT 
****(*)  Maison Nicolas Perrin  2026-28  11/11  bountiful, rich 
****(*)  Dom des Remizières Cuvée Emilie  2026-28  11/11  polished; lot of action 
****(*)  Tardieu-Laurent  2026-28  11/11  textured; juiced gras 
**** Cave de Tain Epsilon 2033-35 11/12 lithe, vigorous, oaked
****  Dard & Ribo   2023-25  03/12  character; tasty fruit 
**** E.Guigal 2034-36 12/15 tight, square, 3/4 weight
****  Dom Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet  2023-25  11/11  delicate, approachable 
****  Gabriel Meffre Laurus  2023-25  11/11  mild Hermitage 
**** Dom Michelas St Jemms Terres d'Arce 2031-34 10/15 strength, solid gras, fresh
**** Gilles Robin 2027-28 12/15 authentic, svelte, graceful
**** Vidal-Fleury 2027-29 04/15 chunky, rich potential
****  Vins Vienne Chirats St Christophe  2026-28  11/11  manly; patience 
***(*) Saint Cosme La Pierrelle 2026-28 12/12 neat, compact, mineral
***(*)  Marc Sorrel   2024-26  11/11  clear, light, Burgundian 
***  Domaine Belle  2024-26  11/11  clinical; only fair now 
***  Domaine Yann Chave  2023-25  11/11  correct, not more 

2010 HERMITAGE WHITE  

2010 is a fabulous white Hermitage vintage. I am impressed by the precise quality of the Marsanne this year; rich, yet well-cut, it reminds me of elegant vintages such as 2001 and 2004. The balance is good indeed, and an important gauge is just how good are the wines from those who buy in crop rather than own their own vineyards - Gabriel Meffre, Tardieu-Laurent, Les Vins de Vienne, for instance.

The crop was healthy, for a start, and the ripening occurred gradually rather than suffering extremes of temperature. BERNARD FAURIE recalled "I picked my white Hermitage on 17 September, with degree of over 14°, which is a good date, and a good degree for that date." No wonder, then, that balance in these wines is excellent.

MARC SORREL harvested on 15 September, having lost 10% crop this year against 2009. Both his wines very accurately reflect the vintage and their own provenance. The classic white, made from 1985-88 Marsanne on the well-exposed Les Greffieux near the Cave de Tain, started out closed, but had started to open by late 2011. Meanwhile the ROCOULES, was altogether richer - Rocoules is a classic white terroir - and more reserved, as befits a wine coming in at 14.8°, against the more breezy 12.8° of the classic. The 90% Marsanne on Rocoules dates from the 1930s and the 1950s, so the extra depth is logical.

Bernard Faurie pointed to rain during flowering this year, resulting in coulure (flowers failing to convert into fruit), which hit the Syrah more than the white varieties. His white is a take your time wine, pure and lithe rather than fat; it has a little more body than the 2011, but was entering a closed phase in late 2011, with Bernard anticipating a shut down of 3 to 4 years.

The coulure factor also played chez DOMAINE JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE: “There was a lot of coulure in 2010, and the beauty of it was the balance, even with a small crop," stated JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE. "The work of the assembly was to give it a bit more weight without heaviness. It resembles a good 1996 or 1991,” he told me November, 2012, two months after the wine's bottling.

Another vineyard suffering lowered yields ths vintage was that of DELAS, whose Marsanne on the cool westerly site of Les Grandes Vignes dates from 1912 - yes, pre First World War. "Our crop was only 17 hl/ha," stated JACQUES GRANGE; that was because of an attack of oïdium, which the Marsanne is very subject to." The pH on their MARQUISE DE LA TOURETTE is around 3.4, indicating that it can live and develop well over time.

From PHILIPPE GUIGAL came the recognition that 2010 is a complex vintage. Their Ex-voto is excellent wine, led by its singularly fine features. As PHILIPPE observed in May 2013, though, patience will be required: "this 2010 is very closed, tight. The 2009 is adored by consumers, the 2010 by professionals.”

The other success in 2010 surrounds the site-specific expression in some of the wines. The TARDIEU-LAURENT is made half from Les Murets, composed of 95% 1950s Marsanne; it entirely captures the elegantly rich texture of the vintage, as does the Martinelles white, sourced from heavier low-lying soils on Greffieux, Diognières and La Pierrelle.

Here is a vintage suited to steamed fish, Asiatic cuisine that has sweet spices, and fine dishes including chicken and lobster or crab. It also deserves being drunk out of large glasses, such as the Riedel Syrah, and being decanted.

Longevity can run towards the late 2030s, and I would recommend purchase for those who are prepared to wait for added complexity around 2018 onwards.

LEADING HERMITAGE 2010 WHITES

******  M.Chapoutier L`Ermite  2038-41  07/11  cracking, symphonic 
******  M.Chapoutier de l`Orée    2034-37  07/11  grounded, engaging 
****** E.Guigal Ex-voto 2038-40 05/13 fine, shapely, fresh
*****  Cave de Tain Au Coeur des Siècles 2032-35  01/15  true, classic, lovely gras 
*****  M.Chapoutier Le Méal 2033-35  07/11  lucid, effortless 
***** Domaine Jean-Louis Chave 2039-41 11/12 linear, full, complete
*****  Fayolle Fils & Fille Les Dionnières 2022-24  11/11  tasty, precise, style 
***** E.Guigal 2035-37 05/13 tight, measured, long
*****  Gabriel Meffre Laurus  2026-28  11/11  finesse, class 
*****  Marc Sorrel Les Rocoules  2028-30  11/11  silken, continuous 
****(*)  M.Chapoutier Chante Alouette  2027-29  06/11  finely complete 
****(*) Paul Jaboulet Aîné La Chapelle 2036-39 11/16 close knit, firm, balanced
****(*)  Marc Sorrel  2024-26  11/11  caressing balance 
****(*)  Tardieu-Laurent  2027-29  11/11  balance; STGT 
****(*)  Vins de Vienne La bachole  2024-26  11/11  style, balance 
**** Cave de Tain 2028-29 11/12 grounded, gd oxidative
****  Domaine du Colombier  2027-29  11/11  Big Fella; fat, wild 
****  Bernard Faurie  2026-27  11/11  lithe, pure 
**** Paul Jaboulet Aîné Chev Stérimberg 2035-37 11/16 suave, fresh, floral 
****  P & V Jaboulet Nouvelère 2026-27  11/11  vibrant fruit; fine 
****  Domaine des Martinelles  2021-23  11/11  accurate, hand made 
****  Maison Nicolas Perrin  2024-26  11/11  elegant, pure 
****  Dom des Remizières Cuvée Emilie 2025-27  11/11  rich, authentic 
****  Dom Remizières Cuvée Particulière 2018-19 11/11  fat, precise, solo OK 
***(*) Delas Marquise de la Tourette 2027-29 11/12 frm ****(*); mre body
***  Domaine Belle 2025-27  11/11  wiry; needs time 

2010 SAINT-JOSEPH RED

Fresh, tight and taut are all words that growers have used, and my tastings so far have agreed. Another crisp, crackling year for the Syrah from the granite of the west bank. Similar shape and form to the other appellations.

Pierre-Jean Villa, ex of Les Vins de Vienne, where he had a major influence in driving the affair forward and sharpening up its quality at the same time: "2010s are fresher than the 2009s, a bit tight, a bit taut, and will please informed drinkers. There is more access to terroir than in 2009. We had the time to get a full phenolic ripening this year. To achieve a similar ripeness in 2009, you risked having a jam side in your wines. I picked 14 October, and my pH was 3.30. This year each region is separate due to the maturity taking longer than in 2009, and alcohol levels are lower."

LEADING SAINT-JOSEPH 2010 REDS

****** E Guigal Vignes de l'Hospice 2034-37 10/15 complex, stylish depth, v long
*****  M.Chapoutier Les Granits  2030-33  07/11  harmony, style 
*****  Dom Coursodon La Sensonne  2028-30  12/11  gt quality fruit; oak 
***** Delas Francois de Tournon 2024-26 11/12 beauty; lovely tasting wine
*****  Delas Sainte-Epine  2025-27  06/11  total STGT wine 
***** Domaine Faury La Gloriette 2021-22 09/12 brilliant, many 2010 virtues
***** E Guigal Lieu-Dit Saint-Joseph 2033-36 10/15 dense, complete, complex
***** André Perret Les Grisières 2023-26 10/12 Grande Année, up frm ****(*) 
***** François Villard Mairlant 2020-21 11/12 up frm **** ace balance
****(*)

Gilles Barge Clos des Martinets

2024-26 05/13 classy, gaining all the time
****(*)

Domaine Jean-Louis Chave

2028-30  09/15  fine, savoury, very long 
****(*)

Louis Chèze Ro-Rée

2021-22 11/12 scented, long; STGT
****(*)  Dom Coursodon L`Olivaie  2024-26  12/11  tasty; yum yum texture 
****(*)  Dom Coursodon Silice  2022-23  02/12  fruit bundles; w.o.w. 
****(*)  Pierre Gaillard Les Pierres 2021-22  11/12  solid, broad, wholesome 
****(*) Bernard & Fabrice Gripa Le Berceau 2031-33 04/16 complex, mineral, very long
****(*) Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne 2024-26 10/12 STGT; racy, cool fruit
****(*)  Tardieu-Laurent Les Roches VV  2021-23  11/11  hedonism, dining wine 
****

Cave de Tain Esprit de Granit

2023-25 09/13 wholesome; granite typicity
**** Louis Chèze Prestige Caroline 2022-23 11/12 subtle, finesse; oaked
**** Yves Cuilleron Les Serines 2019-20 11/12 snappy; modern, oak
****  Emmanuel Darnaud  2020-21  11/11  assertive, broad 
****  Guy Farge Terre de Granit  2018  11/11  STGT; rocking, long 
****  Pierre Gaillard Clos de Cuminaille  2020-22  11/12  scented, fine
****  Domaine Gonon  2023-26  11/11  trad; deep fruit 
****  Max Graillot equis  2020-21  11/10  v clear fruit, v long 
**** Domaine Monier-Perréol 2019-21 05/15 deep-seated, good bounty
**** Dom du Monteillet Cuvée du Papy 2026-27 10/12 vigour, life; wait for acidity
****  Domaine Mucyn  2021-22  11/12  interesting, juicy, w.o.w. 
**** Domaine Novis Cuvée du Prieur  2022-23 11/11 oily vigour; modern
****  Maison Nicolas Perrin  2021-22  11/11  STGT; pedigree 
****  Domaine des Remizières 2020-21  11/11  generous, plenty, clear 
****  Domaine du Tunnel  2020-21  02/12  classy palate run 
****  Dom G Vernay Terres d`Encre  2024-26  02/12  fine; racy fruit 
****  Pierre-Jean Villa Tildé  2024-26  06/11  complex, balance 
****  François Villard Reflet 2021-22  11/12  scented fruit; striking
**** Dom d La Ville Rouge Cuvée Potier  2021-22 11/12 dense, layered; tasty heart
****  Vins de Vienne L`Arzelle  2019-20  11/11  oily, textured, oak 
***(*) de Boisseyt Chol Les Rivoires 2019-20 11/11 gd structure; crisp fruit
***(*) Cave de Tain 2017-18 11/12 deep; good drive
***(*) Aurélien Chatagnier 2017 11/11 genuine; unforced
***(*)  Domaine Courbis  2020-21  11/11  oaky, quite rich 
***(*)  Dom Coursodon Paradis St P  2022-24  12/11  orderly; all v ripe 
***(*)  Dom de la Côte Saint-Épine VV   2017  11/11  tarry fruit, fine acidity 
***(*)  Yves Cuilleron L`Amarybelle  2021-22  02/12  easy; discreet body 
***(*)  Dard & Ribo   2019  03/12  get on and drink style 
***(*)  Dauvergne Ranvier Vin Rare  2018-19  11/11  gd ensemble; typical 
***(*)  Delas Les Challeys  2017-18  06/11  charming; w.o.w. 
***(*)  Domaine Durand Les Coteaux  2021-23  11/11  gourmand; round 
***(*)  Gilles Flacher  2016-17  11/11  genuine, clean, oak 
***(*) Pierre Gaillard 2020-21 11/12 balanced, enjoyable
***(*)  Domaine Gripa  2020-21  12/11  bright fruit; authentic 
***(*)  Gabriel Meffre Laurus  2020-22  11/11  gusto, drive; local promise 
***(*) Domaine Novis Les Bruyères 2018-19 11/11 fully laden
***(*)  André Perret  2019-20  05/12  gd drinking, w.o.w. 
***(*)  Domaine H & M-T Richard  2020-21  11/11  juicy fruit, tight for now 
***(*) Gilles Robin André Péleat 2021-22 12/15 squeezy gras, thick coating
***(*)  Domaine Rousset  2018-19  11/11  modern, character, w.o.w.  
***(*)  Domaine Vallet Muletiers  2020-21  05/12  complete, long 
***(*) Dom Georges Vernay La Dame Brune 2025-27 11/13 tight; has potential
***(*)  Pierre-Jean Villa Préface 2017  06/11  a great drop, w.o.w. 
***(*)  Dom Alain Voge Les Vinsonnes  2018-19  11/11  southern St Jo softness 
***  Aléofane  2015  11/11  correct; drink young 
***  Domaine Courbis Les Royes  2020-22  11/11  international, effective 
***  Domaine Durand Lautaret  2019-20  11/11  bit mainstream 
***  Guy Farge Passion Terrasses  2016-17  11/11  traditional, natural, but ... 
***  Domaine de Gouye  2016  11/11  smoke, pepper, evolution 
*** Dom du Monteillet Grand-Duc 2022-24 10/12 power, apice, acidity, wait
*** Domaine Novis La Capricieuse 2018 11/11 plenty wine; pushy
*** Domaine Christophe Pichon 2018-19 10/12 med weight; agreeable
*** Dom Saint Clair abîmes de l'enfer 2016-17 11/11 gras but lot of oak
***  Cave St-Désirat Coeur Rochevine 2018-19  11/11  refined, supple, oak 
***  Cave St-Désirat Septentrio 2020-21  11/11  modern, wiry, drive 
***  Domaine Vallet Meribets  2018-19  05/12  peppery, fresh 
***  Vins de Vienne Les Archevêques  2018  11/11  juice, gourmand, oak 

2010 SAINT-JOSEPH WHITE

It is not surprising that 2010 is a successful year for white Saint-Joseph, given the surrounding triumphs at Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and Saint-Péray. There is a lot of natural gras in them, and the wines are often presented with a light touch - most are calm, unforced and effortless.

When Roussanne features, its influence comes through noticeably, even in an only 40% wine such as the François Villard Mairlant, for instance. The intrinsic and naturally achieved richness renders many good to drink now. "Harmony" and "roundness" are words that occur in my notes.

The 2010s are extremely food friendly, just like the Crozes-Hermitage white 2010s. Aim for  nothing too rich - soft cheeses would be lovely, also the Awkward Squad such as cardoon or baked celery, plus St Jacques, and mushroom dishes such as risottos.

Their degree ranges around 13.5° to 14° quite often - the style is for a full ripening, a waiting policy, and therefore wines with depth. As Jean Gonon, maker of the exemplary Les Oliviers from Tournon, told me: "we pick the white crop at 14.5° - if we had picked the 2010 earlier at 13.5°, the crop wouldn`t have been ripe - the grapes wouldn`t have been golden, and just not ripe."

His neighbour in Mauves, Fabrice Gripa of Domaine Gripa, told me: "2010 was a year of complicated vegetation, stop-go ripening. The grapes were not ripe at the end of August, the véraison was delayed, but we had high degree in them by then. So it was difficult. We started to harvest on 18-20 September; the main result of the September rain was the gain in balance for the white crop. It was a surprising year of very high degree for both whites and reds. My Marsanne this year is rich and alcoholic, so I have blended some Roussanne in with it early, such as for my Saint-Péray Les Pins. The winter was cold this year - under 10°C in the cellar - so the whites have taken their time."

So keep an eye on wines that contain Roussanne - Villard`s Mairlant, the 100% Roussanne Aurélien Chatagnier (although that is skewed by extreme ripening), the 100% Roussannes of Pierre Gaillard and Pascal Jamet`s Vignoble de la Tour d`Arras (not yet tasted), and the accomplished 100% Roussanne Saut de l`Ange from Pierre-Jean Villa.

This is another category to buy, and enjoy, although I marginally prefer the style of the white Crozes-Hermitages this year, and often the latter are a little cheaper. 

LEADING SAINT-JOSEPH 2010 WHITES

*****  M.Chapoutier Les Granits  2033-35  07/11  varied, fresh, slow burn 
****(*)  Domaine Gonon Les Oliviers  2022-24  11/11  firm, elegant, long 
****(*)  E.Guigal Lieu-Dit St Joseph  2024-26  12/11  generous gras; precise 
****(*)  François Villard Mairlant  2019-20  11/11  great mix gras, freshness 
****  M.Chapouter Deschants  2018-19  06/11  convivial; w.o.w. 
****  Dom Coursodon Paradis St P  2018-19  11/11  round, ripe, long 
****  Domaine Coursodon Silice  2019-20  11/11  harmony; fine, subtle 
****  Yves Cuilleron Le Lombard  2018  11/11  intricate, ease, grace 
****  Yves Cuilleron Lyseras  2018-19  11/11  harmony, pretty 
****  Dard & Ribo  2018-19  03/12  tender, deep, charming 
****  Guy Farge vania  2015  02/12  w.o.w. easy roundness 
****  Ferraton La Source  2020-21  02/12  delicate, stylish 
****  Domaine Gripa Le Berceau  2022-23  03/11  ripe, rich 
****  Pierre-Jean Villa Saut de l`Ange  2018-19  06/11  lovely fat, good grip 
****  François Villard Fruit d`Avilleran  2017-18  11/11  open, outward, exotic 
***(*)  Gilles Barge La Ribaudy 2018  05/12  authentic, fresh and cool 
***(*)  Aurélien Chatagnier  2015-16  11/11  100% R; rich, oxidative 
***(*) Delas Les Challeys 2019-20 06/11 rich, long; food suited
***(*)  Domaine de Gouye  2015  11/11  tender; STGT 
***(*)  Domaine Gripa  2018-19  06/11  fine-tuned 
***(*)  E.Guigal  2020-21  12/11  gras, finely mineral 
***  de Boisseyt Chol  2016-17  11/11  traditional, supple 
***  Cave de Tain Terre d`Ivoire  2016-17  11/11  supple, agreeable 
***  Christope Curtat Sous Amandier  2017  11/11  assertive flavour 
***  Gilles Flacher  2016  11/11  fusion to come 
***  André Perret  2019-20  05/12  delicate, has spine 
*** Dom Christophe Pichon 2016 10/12 elegant, mild

2010 SAINT-PÉRAY

Another success here. Depth in the wines, with good balance.

LEADING SAINT-PÉRAY 2010s

****(*)  Jean-Louis Thiers Terres Rouilles  2017-18  11/11  stylish; STGT 
****(*)  Vins de Vienne Les Bialères 2019-20  11/11  classy; fine richness 
****  M.Chapoutier Hongrie  2020-21  11/11  plenty; interesting 
****  Yves Cuilleron Les Cerfs  2018  11/11  fresh, subtle body 
**** Domaine Gripa Les Figuiers 2020-22 11/11 concise, stylish
**** Domaine Gripa Les Pins 2024-25 09/15 broad, well filled, long
****  Jacques Lemenicier Cuvée Elegance  2016-17  11/11  shapely, curvy, oak 
****  François Villard Version 2019-20  11/11  compact, full, potential 
***(*)  M.Chapoutier Pic et Chapoutier  2020  06/11  robust, stylish 
***(*)  Yves Cuilleron Les Potiers  2018  11/11  fresh, gras = food 
***(*)  Jacques Lemenicier Cuvée Tradition   2016  11/11  character; aperitif 
***(*)  Tardieu-Laurent Vieilles Vignes  2020-21  11/11  wide, fleshy, fat 
***(*)  Domaine Jean-Louis Thiers  2016  11/11  gt aperitif; w.o.w. 
***(*)  Vins de Vienne  2018-19  11/11  fine, muscular 
***  M.Chapoutier Les Tanneurs  2018  06/11  fresh, close-knit 
***  Cave de Tain Fleur de Roc  2016  11/11  gras and zest; food 
*** Domaine Clape 2019-20 10/12 sturdy; hum of power
***  Vins de Vienne Les Archeveques  2016  11/11  gras, bit sticky 
***  Dom Alain Voge Terres Boisées 2016-17  11/11  sound; gras, fresh 
***  Dom Alain Voge Fleur de Crussol  2019-21  11/11  spare; may gain 

 

2010 VIN DE PAYS, VIN DE TABLE, CÔTES DU RHÔNE REDS

**** Domaine Clape Côtes du Rhône 2023-24 10/12 Va Va Voom
****  Vins de Vienne vdp Seyssuel Sotanum 2027-28  02/12  smoky, muscled 
***(*) Domaine Jamet Côtes du Rhône Syrah 2022-23 10/12 clear, seductive
***(*) René Rostaing vdp Coll Rhod IGP Syrah Lesardes 2021-22 05/13 serious; good drink
** Cave de Tain vdp Coll Rhod Queen of Syrah 2015 11/12 dn from ***
***  Dom Les Alexandrins vdp Coll Rhd Intuition  2014-15  11/11  85 Gamay, breezy 
*** Dom Jasmin vdp Coll Rhod La Chevalière Syrah 2018-19 10/12 upbeat; solo OK
***   André Perret vdp Coll Rhod Merlot 2018  05 12 w.o.w. deep 
***  P-Jean Villa Seyssuel Esprit d`Antan Syrah 2023-24  06/11  fine fruit, delicate 
**(*) Cave de Tain vdp Coll Rhod Syrah 2015 11/11 good picnic wine
**(*) Domaine Clape Vin de Table Le Vin des Amis 2019-20 10/12 will improve
**(*) J-L Colombo vdp Coll Rod Collines de Laure Syrah 2016 05/13 spiced fruit; body
**(*)  André Perret vdp Coll Rhod Syrah Franc Pied  2015  05/12  exuberant Syrah 
**(*)  Dom G Vernay vdp De Mirbaudie Syrah  2017  07/11  crisp, tangy 
**(*)  Dom G Vernay vdp Fleurs de Mai Syrah  2017  07/11  round, gummy 

2010 VIN DE PAYS WHITES

****(*)  Vins de Vienne vdp Seyssuel Taburnum  2021-22  02/12  great; life, depth 
***  Dom Les Alexandrins vdp Les Poupées  2014  11/11  v gd, fine, precise 
*** Xavier Gérard vdp Coll Rhod Viognier 2016-17 10/12 sturdy, well-filled
***  M & S Ogier vdp Viognier de Rosine  2017  02/12  fine features, apero 
***  André Perret vdp Coll Rhod Marsanne  2016  05/12  effortless fat; grip 
***  Dom G Vernay vdp Le Pied de Samson  2015-16  07/11  supple, fresh 
**(*) Dom du Monteillet Le Viognier 2018 10/12 scale, for la table
**(*)  F Villard vdp Contours de Deponcins  2016  03/12  tight; intense heart