Northern Rhône red vintages

2013 - Despite a slow start and problems with mildew in June, the 2013 growing season came good with fine warm days and cool nights throughout the summer. Rain prompted a speedy harvest (one of the latest ever) but most producers seem content with the results.

looks good for the Rhône, against the trend of the year in Europe at large. It is defined by lower than average potential alcohol – indeed some chaptalisation was practised. Acidities are also generally below the norm, while tannins are more pronounced than in 2011.

Untimely rain in early September diluted what was otherwise a very promising crop. Quality still good, but certainly not at the level of 2010 or 2009.

2010 Low yields of exceptionally good quality. One of the very best years in the northern Rhône - possibly the best in history!

2009 Warmer and drier than average: volumes were down and harvest was early. Ripening was quick but complete, and quality looks to be very good.

2008 Lots of rain gave a disappointing and dilute vintage. Some producers opted not to make their top wines at all. Largely best to avoid.

Very wet spring, a patchy summer but the vintage was saved by decent weather in September.

2006 Very promising. As elsewhere in France, the region experienced a very mixed August but a warm September seems to have resulted in an excitingly high success rate.

2005 As successful as elsewhere in France. A long term prospect which may rival 1990.

2004 A welcome return to normal temperatures but this post-2003 heatwave crop was not generous and wines have developed fast.

2003 Some exceptional heatwave wines with enormous concentration and, we hope, a long and glorious life ahead.

2002 Poor weather at flowering dramatically reduced the potential crop and paved the way for a thoroughly horrid summer resulting in rotten, unripe grapes. Some growers declassified a large proportion of them although the odd late-picked bottling may surprise. Reds should have been drunk. Good white wines though.

2001 One of the most successful regions in France in 2001. Almost as good as 1999 if more elegant and less concentrated than 2000.  Very respectable levels of ripeness and good acidity and ripe tannins to support them.

2000 Good to very good if overshadowed by its predecessor. August was hot with heavy rain on August 21. September enjoyed exceptionally fine weather allowing a particularly prolonged harvest. Both red and white wines are very charming.

1999 Exceptional quality. A sunny harvest saw good quantities of healthy grapes - a cause for real celebration in the northern Rhône. Quality is at least as good as 1998 (some compare it with 1947) and the quantity was much higher.

1998 Very dry summer stressed the vines. Some tough wines for the long term.

1997 Early maturing, soft wines from an early harvest.

1996 Solid, unexciting but ready and competently made.

1995 Very promising vintage which is just starting to come round at the top end.

1994 All-too familiar autumn rains before the fruit could ripen.

1993 A great summer then rain, hail and mildew, so light, soft wines are the rule.

1992 Heavy September rains gave a mixed bag of early-drinking wines.

1991 A good vintage, superb in Côte Rôtie: fragrant, forward and charming.

1990 The heatwave slowed ripening. Côte Rôtie suffered but the Hermitage hill produced some monster wines destined for a very long life.

1989 A drought year, irregular in Cornas, otherwise rich and opulent.

1988 Unfairly overshadowed by 1989 and 1990, with majestic Côte Rôties for long ageing.

1986 Guigal's wines are the exception to a rather lean, charmless year.

1985 Opulent and soft, these wines were delicious but have matured relatively early.

1983 Outstanding muscular wines now ready to drink.

1979 Lovely soft, elegant and balanced wines that should now have been drunk.

1978 A sensational year, highly aromatic, complex and big-framed. Now very rare.

Tags:  Rhône
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