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Snow Hits Hard

February 2010

snow hit the Rhône in January 2010, with a foot or more at Gigondas (40 cm) and falls all over the Valley. Good news for the water table, although pruning was a little held up in difficult to access places. In the cellars. growers are working on their 2008s, a vintage in which throwing away any suspect crop was obligatory, but also one where the blender`s art comes to the fore, and fine judgment is needed to provide wines that are reasonably balanced and good to drink without any stiff or jagged notes. I continue to be interested by simple, hand-made 2008s from Côtes du Rhône and also the small wines from successful estates - which can include vins de pays as well.

Beside 2008, 2009 is a boastful, glitzy vintage, with immediate impact fruit and a lot of content. Show biz hits town! All I would advise is to go carefully in buying at an early stage - vinification was not always straightforward - there are some enormous degrees on the Southern Grenache - and growers may have that pecuniary glint in their eyes - a low yield this year, coupled with a frothing media, means prices will rise, nae doubt about that. Only if Greece really hits the buffers may importers see some relief on the € Euro front.

This month, more 2008s will be entered, and the picture of a vintage that follows a known Rhône pattern - a lesser red year equals a good white year - will also be further unfurled.

Cornas (cheval mascot) news: it is slightly back to the drawing board for our steed. He finished 5th, about 25 lengths behind the top-class winnee, the ex-French Twist Magic in his big race at Ascot. Ex-French, eh. Restez chez vous, svp. He tried to mix it with the two best horses and got tired, and was thereafter allowed to come home gently. Plans are now under discussion, since he is not quite in the top league, but is good in the second grade. Having said that, he would still feature in the best 12 steeplechasers over 2 miles in Britain - not at all bad. But the analogy with Cornas - gallant and honest - remains true. Allez Cornas!