Skip to main content

To visit our site, you must be old enough to consume alcohol according to the local legislation.

L'abus d'alcool est dangereux pour la santé, consommez avec modération.

Although individual berries were smaller than usual this year, the Rhône Valley’s 2019 harvests are not far off the 10-year average. Quantity-wise, appellations here are generally less affected by falls in production than many others in France, while fruit quality is admirable. Throughout the Valley, initial tastings show incredible promise.

Complex weather patterns

After 2018’s very wet spring, 2019 has been much drier, with lower-than-usual rainfall recorded every month. Thankfully groundwater reserves had been fully replenished by last autumn’s heavy rain, and the extra water, coupled with mild weather in February and March, encouraged the fruit to develop well.
The vineyards stood up extraordinarily well to summer’s heat and drought, delivering a crop of impeccably healthy grapes. The magnificent weather continued throughout summer and into September, bringing the fruit to full ripeness, both technological (potential alcohol, acidity and pH levels) and phenolic (tannins and anthocyanins). Wide variations between day and night temperatures encouraged good anthocyanin accumulation.

Learning to adapt

Across the Rhône Valley vineyards, winegrowers and winemakers agree that it’s more important than ever to be flexible, changing tactics where necessary to accommodate fruit development and the new climate norms. While the vines have seemingly taken 2019’s heat and lack of rainfall in their stride, the winegrowers have never been far away, monitoring and protecting their crops throughout the growing season and right up to the point of harvest. It was, for example, the growers who chose to leave a denser canopy of leaves on each vine than usual, providing the grapes with a natural sunshade; this would then ensure a softer, higher quality extract in the winery with no overly-harsh tannins.

Vignoble de Laudun

“Incredibly promising” wines across the board

Initial tastings indicate that throughout the Rhône Valley, 2019 is an outstanding year for quality.
“The first Côtes du Rhônes are already showing everything we could hope for – fruit, colour and texture, with roundness and freshness on the palate. We’re on track for a glorious vintage,” says a delighted Philippe Pellaton, Chairman of the Côtes du Rhône appellation. Philippe Guigal, ambassador for the Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu appellations agrees. “This year has fulfilled our expectations – surpassed them, even - for the Côte Rôtie and Condrieu appellations, both in quality and quantity. I feel very optimistic about the 2019 vintage, and not just because the year ends with a 9, like all our top vintages seem to!” 2019’s wines are full of warmth and sunshine yet manage to retain an edge of freshness, thanks to rain that fell in the northern sector just when it was needed, and to glorious end-of-season weather. Representing the Saint-Joseph appellation, Joël Durand tells us “Our Syrahs were picked when fully ripe, and show plenty of freshness, notes of ripe black fruit and the classic Northern Rhône scents of violet and liquorice; but this year they are just that bit more powerful.”

Clairette de Die and the wines of the Diois are also giving producers cause for celebration. “Our 2019s are showing plenty of freshness. The Clairette de Die ancestral winemaking method we use allows the grapes to express their full potential, and this is very much the case this year. The earlier Muscats have tangy, citrussy flavours, while those harvested later are full of tropical fruit - mango and lychee, with a hint of rose,” says Fabien Lombard, representing Clairette de Die and the Diois appellations.

Vignoble de l'Hermitage

Further south in Rasteau, Frédéric Lavau says on behalf of the appellation, “This year is close to being exceptional. We were all quite worried over the summer, but in fact harvest conditions couldn’t have been better.” In the southern appellations, reds are already showing intense colour, fruity flavours and good tannic potential. Wines are densely coloured and rich in polyphenols. Frédéric again: “Our wines already have a delicious tang, plenty of fruit and a better balance of acidity - although we will be ageing them very carefully, and probably for longer than usual.” Grenache and Cinsault are somewhat lacking in nuance so far, but make up for it in colour.
Producers held out for optimum phenolic ripeness in these two iconic varieties, giving the anthocyanins ample time to be released from the berry skins into the must. In Cairanne, quality is outstanding, as it is throughout the Rhône Valley. “Appellation regulations and the clay in our soils have both helped in building up groundwater reserves. Our Grenaches are spectacular, showing a deep, intense colouring. This iconic grape, widely grown across Cairanne, is at its absolute best this year,” says Denis Alary, representative for the Cairanne appellation.

Across the Rhone River in Lirac, initial tastings already reveal intense red fruit flavours alongside pronounced notes of black fruit. Rodolphe de Pins, representing this historic Côtes du Rhône Cru, predicts that “2019s here are set to be complex with good ageing potential, but without compromising the Lirac appellation’s classic elegance and freshness.”

Things are looking no less rosy for the Rhône Valley appellations (Clairette de Bellegarde, Costières de Nîmes, Côtes du Vivarais, Grignan-les-Adhémar, Luberon and Ventoux). On behalf of the Ventoux appellation, Samuel Montgermont explains that, “pH levels are low and acidity is better than 2018, so we’re looking at wines with plenty of freshness and good acid balance, along with good colour and structure.” Whites this year have needed a lot of attention to get colour right, and flexibility was needed in dealing with high polyphenol content. Meanwhile, good phenolic potential in the rosés has seen producers tweaking their winemaking techniques to achieve the desired results. “Luberon rosés are set to be subtle, elegant and beautifully soft, while whites are crisp and refreshing with velvety-smooth balance” says Joel Bouscarle, representing the Luberon appellation.

Vignoble des Costières de Nîmes

So at this stage, for winemakers and growers here in France’s 2nd largest AOC wine-producing region, the future looks bright. Vinification started some weeks ago, and will ensure that the unique terroirs of the Rhône Valley Vineyards are fully expressed through their appellation wines. “2019 has been challenging in terms of climate, but has delivered a great vintage,” says Michel Chapoutier, President of Inter-Rhône. “The quality of our wines, their terroir-expressive character and the excellent image they enjoy give us good reason to look to the future with optimism, even in today’s harsh economic and geopolitical climate.”

Discover our grape varieties

Rhone wines derive their style, richness and originality from the diversity of the region's grape varieties. Learn all about them…

Discover our appellations

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