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Harvest And Vintification

mid-October 2010

creased faces, a few yawns here and there, knocking over the odd glass of water when eating - yes it`s harvest and vinification time, the growers at full stretch. 2010`s crop is reduced, but people are happy with the quality. In the Southern Rhône, Gigondas is still harvesting under stable weather in the week of October 11, while Châteauneuf-du-Pape has largely finished, except for strong waiters like Château Rayas, whose bunches are magnificent on their south-west, sun-setting vineyard near the cellars. Vacqueyras has finished as well. Fermentations have gone well, too. Later areas like Ventoux and Lubéron are still harvesting. For detailed comments, see Goings-On.

In the Northern Rhône, it is near the end of the harvest at Côte-Rôtie, with Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and Saint-Joseph also mostly completed. Colours are good, quantity is off 2009 levels by a small amount, and growers are content.  For detailed comments, see Goings-On.

CORNAS, WINE et CHEVAL ALERT: Willi`s Wine Bar celebrated an extraordinary 30 years of not existence, but extreme life and fleuraison (sounds better in French, flowering) on 9 October, 2010. This trend-setting wine bar owned and run by my old friend Mark Williamson, 13 rue des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris, +33(0)142 61 05 09, did away with the old custom that all Paris wine bars served junk merchant wines and put the Rhône of small growers to the fore when started in 1980. The second edition of my book The Wines of the Rhône was launched there in 1982, when one of the pouring wines for the drinks was the red Hermitage J-L Chave 1978. We knew how to live! Thus it was that the red for this celebration was magnums (magna) of Cornas 2000, Domaine Clape; in spiffing form it was, too. Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners affirmed that it was "the best Cornas he had ever drunk."

The following day, in Ireland, at Limerick racecourse, the mighty cheval mascot of http://www.drinkrhone.com// CORNAS, won his €30,000 2 mile steeplechase by 3 lengths, skipping away from his field after being held up. Much porter was drunk in Dublin later that day. The Mayor of Cornas continues to be eclipsed by his 4-legged rival, and we should entertain serious thoughts of putting up CORNAS for the next round of mayoral elections at Cornas. Ecology and the preservation of the vineyards in the face of housing threats would be central to his policies, of course. Allez CORNAS!

Traditional Veterans

mid-October 2010

please go to Veterans Corner, The Wines, to read about suggestions of what to drink with a bottle of 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Château Rayas white, in response to an enquiry about that from a Norwegian subscriber. Under Recent Tastings, Les Vins Naturels, some organic wines from domaines such as Romaneaux-Déstézet at Saint-Joseph and Dard & Ribo at Crozes-Hermitage have been tried, along with a 1998 Château de Fonsalette red.

2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds are being gradually entered on a domaine by domaine basis, starting with the more affordable Tradition category (the Prestige wines can wait their turn). LVT 2009 r (Last Vintage Tasted 2009 red) is the clue, or use the Search engine under vintage 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, please.

Also updated recently have been the red wines of the Cave de Tain at Hermitage, where the Top Grade reds, notably the striking Epsilon, are bounding forward, and the pricelessly traditional Domaine La Garrigue at Vacqueyras, whose 90-100 year Grenache red Canterelle is a winner. Remember that the Garrigue wines are available at the Hotel Les Florets in the foothills of the Dentelles Mountains at Gigondas, a venue that is run by the Bernard family as well.