Finally, a breather from the office: It's time to make my annual run through France's Southern Rhône Valley.
It's been a busy summer and fall in the office. I've been getting up to speed on Bordeaux since picking up that region of coverage last August, and I've been transitioning coverage of Chile and Argentina, two countries I've covered for 10 years, to my colleague Nathan Wesley. Add in a couple of cover stories along the way (including a full issue of Rhône coverage in the Nov. 30 issue of Wine Spectator) and it's been difficult to file blogs as regularly as I'd like.
Now things are about to heat up though. I'll be in the Rhône the next two weeks, focusing on the southern portion of this large and diverse region. As usual, I'll visit more than a dozen estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the south's main appellation. But I'll also be getting out into other less-heralded areas such as the Ventoux and Costières de Nîmes to visit and report on domaines whose wines I think are worth tracking down.
If you're just catching on to my blog coverage here, you can reference my previous trips starting with my last tour through the Southern Rhône in November 2010.
This time, I'm here to focus on the 2010s, though I may get a sneak peek at some very young 2011s here and there. As always, the wines I taste when I visit domaines are not tasted blind, and many times they are not finished, bottled wines, either. Consequently, I do not provide scores for these wines. Those come later, when I can taste the finished wines blind in our New York office. Until then, it's just as important to report on the vignerons themselves—how they work, their respective wine styles and the spirit and soul of the domaines they run.
And it couldn't come at a better time. With a few inches of snow falling on still-green trees in New York this past weekend, an escape to the sun and mild autumn of the Southern Rhône is a guilty pleasure indeed.
I hope you'll follow along as I make another run through the Rhône. As always you can feel free to ask questions along the way.
You can follow James Molesworth on Twitter, at http://twitter.com/jmolesworth1.
Stewart Lancaster — beaver,pa — October 31, 2011 1:28pm ET
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