No sooner was I back from the rush of our annual Wine Experience in Las Vegas at the end of October, and it was time to head out to France's Rhône Valley again. I’ll be focusing on the Southern Rhône this time (I alternate trips between the north and south) and will be tasting the 2009 vintage primarily. My annual tasting report, which covers the bulk of the 2008s that are now in stores, is in the current Nov. 30 issue.
The Southern Rhône’s 2009 vintage may sound like a broken record—it’s potentially outstanding and continues a decade of superb vintages, save for 2002 and 2008. The '09 growing season was warm and dry and ripening came relatively early and easily. The sanitary conditions in the vineyards were ideal leading to wines with excellent color, aromas and abundant tannins. Yields were generally normal, so there shouldn’t be the slightly diffuse edge of a vintage like 2000, for example (which had excellent quality, but higher yields). The tannins in ‘09 are copious, but they’re more polished than the formidable 2005s, yet not as soft as the ‘07s, so the vintage looks to be a cross of the two, structure-wise, but with similar levels of concentration, fruit-wise.
While I visit domaines, I’ll be posting on my blog my impressions of the wines from the cellars. I’ll try and give you insight into how the producers work and a feel for their respective wine styles.
As always, the domaines I visit are based on the results of my always-ongoing tastings in New York. It’s there that I officially review wines based on blind tastings of formal, bottled, properly labeled wines. After those tastings, I head out into the field to meet with the vignerons who are producing the best and most exciting wines from the region. I see some producers on a regular basis, but look for quite a few new domaines (or first-time visits for me) during this upcoming trip.
When I report on my cellar visits, there are no scores on the wines I taste. Since the wines are not tasted blind, a formal score, even a range, is premature in my opinion. If you’re looking for purchasing advice on wines before they arrive here though, don’t worry—I think you’ll be able to glean enough qualitative assessments from my blogging.
I’ll be starting first in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, before heading into Gigondas and then the village of Cairanne. I’ll be reporting on a range of domaines, from sought-after collectibles to small, value-priced wines you may not have heard of. And any truffles I have along the way are purely incidental.
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David A Zajac — Akron, OH — November 9, 2010 12:28pm ET
Tony Wood — Brighton U.K. — November 9, 2010 1:21pm ET
James Molesworth — Senior Editor, Wine Spectator — November 9, 2010 2:50pm ET
David A Zajac — Akron, OH — November 9, 2010 3:51pm ET
Aaron Meeker — Kansas City, KS — November 9, 2010 11:52pm ET
Pauline Decloedt — canada — November 10, 2010 9:27am ET
James Molesworth — Senior Editor, Wine Spectator — November 10, 2010 12:39pm ET
Keir Mccartney — League City,TX — November 10, 2010 5:32pm ET
Phil Roberts — Palatine, IL — November 10, 2010 6:39pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — November 10, 2010 9:30pm ET
James Molesworth — Senior Editor, Wine Spectator — November 11, 2010 2:06am ET
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