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The 2013 vintage promises exceptional freshness from the Rhône Valley vineyards.

An unpredictable spring

“We had an exceptionally cold spring this year, which delayed the start of the growth cycle. We thought that everything would catch up in the July heat, but Mother Nature had other plans. The vines just kept growing until August, and didn’t start concentrating on fruit until September,” adds Pascal Jaume of Domaine Jaume in Vinsobres.

Luckily the Rhône Valley vineyards, helped along by their naturally dry and windy climate, have managed to stay in perfect health.

Albéric Mazoyer of Domaine Alain Voge in Cornas tells us that, “The hillside vineyards positively relished the copious spring rainfall. Saint-Péray whites are showing superb quality, and Cornas wines are also well-coloured and show excellent balance.”

Late Harvests

Harvesting was spread over a long period; the first grapes came in during the first days of September, the last waited until the very end of October. With 2013’s harvests an average of 3 weeks later than we have been used to over the last decade, we are seeing a return to what was considered the norm in the 1970s. A good helping of patience was needed while waiting for certain parcels to reach full maturity, but progress was slow and sure. A few localised spells of rainfall did nothing to spoil the quality of the grapes.

For Alain Aubert of Domaine du Grand Retour at the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, “2013 is the vintage of patience rewarded”. “I’m re-living my youth”, he tells us. “For me, it’s a good vintage, although we’ve needed to exercise our patience in the winery too, as fermentation has been taking a long time.”

At the moment, vinification is giving us no cause for concern. The sugars have converted well, and the first tranche of malolactic fermentations is progressing smoothly.

Fresh and Balanced

Well-balanced acidity is having a positive effect on colour, while maceration times have encouraged a good level of phenolic compound extraction in the reds. Sugar levels are moderate, so alcohol levels will be lower than in previous years. Whites and rosés have distinctively powerful, fruity flavours and good balance on the palate, all thanks to the vintage’s natural vibrancy. The first cuvées are well balanced and full of flavour.

Guy Sarton du Jonchay, Managing Director of Vidal Fleury, reports that in Beaumes de Venise “we have had a good harvest; the Muscat grapes are excellent, and the sweet wines promise to be of high quality. For me, the hallmark of the 2013 vintage is a greater-than-usual vibrancy, which will give all our wines exceptional freshness. We have already observed a pleasing balance in our red wines; these will have good keeping potential.” Meanwhile Philippe Fabrol of Domaine Bonetto Fabrol tells us that, “The Grignan les Adhémar appellation is delighted with the balance, fruitiness and harmony shown by its red wines »

“On a personal level, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the 2013 vintage. The Syrahs are superb. The Whites and rosés are bright, light and straightforward, exactly what the markets have been asking for over the last few years,” says Frédéric Chaudière of Château Pesquié in the Ventoux AOC.

For winegrower Sylvain Morey of la Bastide du Claux, “In the Luberon appellation, whites are excellent and rosés are pale with an attractive purplish tint, while reds are fairly consistent with notes of black fruit and spices”.
In Costières de Nîmes, the year’s first wines are exhibiting plenty of colour and structure. Tannins are ripe and elegant. “This year we have been harvesting our grapes by parcel rather than by varietal,” says Bernard Angelras, President of the Costières de Nîmes appellation. It’s a distinctive feature of the 2013 vintage, and is showing good results across all three colours.”

Still in the Gard, François Dauvergne of Maison Dauvergne et Ranvier confirms that 2013’s wines will be of a very high quality. “The main features of this vintage are its pleasing fruity flavours and good freshness; it’s an elegant vintage, along the same lines as 2007 and 2006.”

Meanwhile in the northern Rhône, Xavier Gomart, Managing Director of the Cave de Tain, believes that 2013 will follow in the footsteps of 2011 and 2012 – a threesome to complete the unbroken series of trouble-free years for the northern appellations.

Quite simply a really good year

Michel Chapoutier, President of the Union des Maisons de Négoce and Vice President of Inter-Rhône sums up the situation: “Once again, the Mediterranean Arc countries are reaping the benefits of a favourable climate”. For Mr Chapoutier, this has been a really good year. “It’s a shame that harvests have been so small,” says Philippe Pellaton, Vice-President of Inter-Rhône and President of the General Syndicate of the Côtes du Rhône. And putting things into perspective he adds, “Nevertheless, with such a promising level of quality, we have, every faith in our 2013 vintage”.

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