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On behalf of all Rhône Valley wine companies, Inter-Rhône is pleased to report that 2012’s wines display all the classic flavours of region’s grapes and demonstrate the unique position of the Rhône vineyard, sheltered from the vagaries of the weather.

Rhône Valley winemakers can give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back: initial tastings indicate excellent flavour potential and very good balance. Inter-Rhône’s own oenologists report that 2012’s wines are defined by their elegance, balance and freshness. “Tannins are very much in evidence, but they are supple and rounded”, so says Françoise Dijon, Head of Quality Analysis at Inter-Rhône; she continues, “It would be tempting to draw comparisons with 2007 – both show elegance, finesse and an excellent flavour profile.”

The Rhône at its Traditional Best

2012’s wines “are bright, fruity and well-balanced - just what we expect from a classic Rhône product,” beams Philippe Pellaton, President of the Syndicat General des Côtes du Rhône, and Vice-President of Inter-Rhône.

This year’s weather conditions have given our grapes the chance to show their true personalities: so our Syrahs are highly expressive with flavours of pepper and violets, while our Grenache covers a whole spectrum of red fruit flavours and gives added smoothness with a lovely sweet touch.

« These wines are concentrated and have good colour,” says Jean Abeille, a Côtes du Rhône and Lirac producer, “Tannins are soft, silky and luscious.”.

André Farjon from Domaine de Dionysos in Uchaux is equally positive: “Our Côtes du Rhône Villages are well-structured, with great character and personality. In the Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne appellation, Grenache is showing plenty of fruit and finesse, while the Syrahs and Mourvèdres have excellent structure and good texture.”

In Rasteau, André Roméro of Domaine de la Soumade tells us that, “2012s are elegant and well-structured with good depth of colour, but without excessive levels of alcohol.”

“The wines are full and powerful with molten tannins. The 2012 vintage isn’t likely to lose its freshness or identity,” announces Denis Deschamps, of Cave d’Estézargues.

The Southern Rhône’s Top Blends

As a rosé wine, the combination of Grenache and Cinsault has shown excellent results. Cinsault vines were not overloaded; they ripened beautifully and have made some very flavoursome wines...

Equally, the blend of Grenache and Syrah has produced good depth of colour and powerful flavours, while a good balance of acidity to alcohol gives a pleasing feeling of freshness.

Keeping a good level of acidity has allowed our whites to retain both their freshness and their breadth of flavour.

The North: Good balance and Depth of Flavour

Further north, the classic varietals are also staying true to their natural flavour profiles.

« On initial tasting, our Syrahs display pepper, violets and liquorice, with beautifully supple enrobed tannins, » reports André Perret, producer of Condrieu and Saint-Joseph.

Yann Chave adds that “Syrah is highly expressive this year. Wines are well-rounded and beautifully balanced. 2012 promises to be even more delightful than 2011,” while Xavier Gomart, director of la Cave de Tain sums it up with the words, “Excellent grapes, almost complete harvest, good colour extraction – what a great year!”

The white varietals (Viognier, Roussane and Marsanne) have produced wines which are bursting with flavour, underpinned by a very pleasing touch of freshness.

According to Carole Devaux of Cave des Clairmont, 2012 is set to be “a promising year, with some delightful wines around; a fruit-driven vintage with a good level of tannins brought about by late ripening.”

An Unspoiled Region

The other Rhône Valley Appellations (Grignan-les-Adhémar, Costières de Nîmes, Luberon, Ventoux, Côtes du Vivarais and Clairette de Bellegarde) also have plenty to smile about. “The Grignan-les-Adhémar appellation’s 2012 cuvées are already displaying a number of very positive features,” states Henri Bour, President of the Grignan-les-Adhémar Appellation. “They show plenty of fruit, good balance, finesse and pleasing, elegant, sophisticated tannins.”

For Philippe Tolleret of Marrenon, “The Luberon rosés have fabulous depth of flavour, and dark purple/crimson highlights. Our reds are already promising good intensity, while Luberon whites are showing remarkable balance.”. Yves Favier, President of the Ventoux appellation is also very satisfied with his lot: “My dream would be to have a harvest like this every year! 2012 promises to be a very high quality vintage; our Syrah is highly expressive with moderate alcohol levels.”

Meanwhile in Costières de Nîmes, Fanny Boyer (Château Beaubois) adds: “As far as our whites and rosés are concerned, we can already detect a lovely brightness of flavour in the 2012s, with plenty of freshness. Our reds are elegant and charming, with floral aromas, fine tannins and beautifully balanced acidity”.

Despite a few complications at the start of summer, vine and wine have developed well, and all on schedule. There have been no major difficulties to speak of, and Rhône Valley wine companies are counting their blessings.

Michel Chapoutier, President of the Rhône Valley Wine Merchants’ Association (l’Union des Maisons de Négoce de la Vallée du Rhône) and Vice-President of Inter-Rhône explains that, “The Rhône region was mainly influenced by a Mediterranean climate, while the rest of France was subject to Oceanic influences. We can expect to see minerality and short, we should expect great things from the Rhône Valley, an area the gods have chosen to favour this season!

Our winemakers have every reason to be happy. Vinification went off without a hitch, and Rhône Valley professionals are preparing for élevage, safe in the knowledge that Rhône Valley’s 2012 wines will bring pleasure to a lot of people, and that the vintage already shows a good deal of potential.

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Find out about the Rhone vineyards : terroirs, soils, climate, grape varieties and, of course, flavours… as if you were visiting in person.