Southern Rhône vintages
3 Sep 2008 by Jancis Robinson

2013 Coulure was this year’s bugbear for the vignerons of the Southern Rhône, drastically reducing the Grenache crop: 2013 Côtes du Rhône may well be in short supply. As is often the case where low yields are matched by careful selection, overall quality is good.

is much more successful than 2011. It was a low-acid year in both the northern and southern Rhône. Alcohols are roughly average, but volumes are down by up to 15% on 2011. Clement weather late in the season made for relaxed harvesting however, and vignerons are optimistic about the results which seem to combine ripeness with some freshness.

Reasonably good quality and good yields, but won't be as brilliant as the preceding two vintages. Often drying tannins.

2010 A very successful vintage, with precision and freshness allowing great expression of terroir. Equally outstanding for whites and reds. Excellent.

2009 Hot and dry throughout August, but decent levels of rainfall too, and plenty of wind to keep the vines healthy. Very satisfactory quality fruit at harvest. Impressive. Sometimes over-alcoholic.

2008 Quite gutless reds, thanks to the rain, although whites are worth a look.

Very wet spring but the region had a much drier summer than most of the rest of France. Wines and tannins are very ripe.

2006 Some very lusciously fruited wines that may not last as long as the 2005s but should provide much drinking pleasure in the medium term.

2005 Great concentration and potential coinciding with increasing consistency of winemaking quality.

2004 A little sterner than the 2006s but similar in style.

2003 Excessive heat had fewer ill effects in this hot region than in the (usually) more temperate climes of Bordeaux and Burgundy. But the wines tend to be low in tannin and high in acid and only the best have the balance to last.

2002 So wet that there was flood damage just before harvest. Much downgrading of fruit into humbler bottlings than usual.

2001 Lauded vintage, the result of a very hot, dry summer. An unusually prolonged mistral at the end of August resulted in thick-skinned berries and accentuated tannins. Later harvesting resulted in better balanced wines - especially in higher-yielding vineyards - but acid levels are dangerously low in some cases. There should be some very long-lived top wines however.

2000 Conditions were excellent until quite heavy rains arrived on 19 September. The results, especially from those who picked early and fast, are plump, approachable wines capable of giving great pleasure even if they will not be the longest-lasting.

1999 Rather more challenging vintage than 2000 for growers and wines with less obvious richness than 1998 for wine drinkers. Heavy rains plagued the harvest and quality is distinctly variable.

1998 Much garlanded vintage that is struggling to live up to its reputation. Perhaps just in a teenage sulk?

1997 Rather muddy flavours from well ripened grapes.

1996 Coolish, damp summer produced lighter-than-usual wines.

1995 Very good colour and really ripe, concentrated reds. Some producers claim it is better than 1990.

1994 Early harvesters were luckier, most picked in rain, so only average quality.

1993 An unwelcome repeat of 1992's weather: diluted, easy-drinking wines.

1992 Torrential harvest rains drowned the vineyards and the results are pretty dilute.

1991 The Grenache failed at flowering and harvest time was uninspiring. Best forgotten.

1990 Exceptionally sumptous, powerful and heady wines with fairly low acidity. Only the finest survive.

1989 Fabulously concentrated with perhaps more backbone than 1990.

1988 Good in all areas: full bodied and with firm tannins, often termed 'classic'.

1987 Pretty poor generally, cool and wet weather with thin wines the result.

1986 Mostly picked before the rains, these were firm and tannic in their youth.

1985 Charming and ripe, even opulent, and now quite soft.