Invitation to AMA: Rhône with buyer Marcel Orford-Williams on 30th January 1pm

Our very first Ask Me Anything Q&A of the year is here! Last year we asked you who you’d like to see take part in an AMA and a very popular choice was our wonderful buyer Marcel - and I’m chuffed to say he’s on board and agreed to take part in our January event, just in time for the Rhône EP offer!

Wednesday 30th January, 1-2pm: Rhône AMA with buyer Marcel Orford-Williams

Marcel has been with us since 1986, and is responsible for buying some truly delicious wines from Rhône, southern and regional France and Germany.

The latest Rhône en primeur offer is going live later this month and I’m sure you’re all bursting with questions. There aren’t many people in the world who know this region better than Marcel, so this is your chance to ask him to share some of his wisdom!

Send us your questions!

Send your questions to Marcel by replying to this topic. Marcel will then join us live for an hour’s chat at 1pm on Wednesday 30th January (hosted by the brilliant @martin_brown!) , where he’ll answer your advance questions and as many followup questions as we have time for!

Click here to see what happened during the last two AMAs with our resident foodie guru, our Tastings and Events co-ordinator Emma Briffett and our English wine and beer buyer Freddy Bulmer.

:point_down::point_down: Looking forward to seeing your questions appear below…! :point_down::point_down:


Most critics reviews I have seen, so far, are scoring 2017 Southern Rhône’s a few points behind their 2016 siblings. Are there any wines/producers you think have bucked that trend and are better in ‘17?


My question is also vintage related.
Rhone 2017 is being described as a good year with concentrated flavours but due to frost, heat and drought, the yields are well below average.
How good can we expect the wines to be in this difficult vintage and are there any standout appelations?
Also, exactly how catastrophic is 2018 in the Rhone?


I would second the question on Marcel’s views on the 2018 vintage in the north and south.


I don’t want to drink 14-15% wines from the Rhône. Any lower alcohol recommendations from the region?


I imagine there’ll be lots of Rhone questions, so I’ll ask about Alsace!

I guess Alsace doesn’t really go in for EP campaigns? Why is that?

Has TWS ever stocked Zind Humbrecht’s Gewurz Goldert? Will they? It was a memorable wine experience for me, which leads to…

What are your top memorable wine experiences?

Oh and finally… you have a £500 budget for Rhone 2017 EP. What do you buy?!


Given the title of the AMA, that is quite probable… :wink:


I read that backwards as ‘ama with Rhone buyer…’ oops. I take all my questions back :smiley:

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Not all of them… I like your last question! :smiley:


and the one before that also a great question @tom


The question in the middle is pretty good too! :wink:

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Germany has had a run of good vintages for whites lately, and 2018 sounds like it is shaping up to be another.

How would you characterise the differences in the last 5 years? Do any standout in particular or is it more a matter of consistency?


Another Germany question … I’m pleased to see TWS being able to offer more German Pinot Noir / Spatburgunder!

How would you describe the terroir(s) of German Pinot Noir? Are there any wines you see as particularly representative of their terroir?


We see a fair amount of excellent white Rhone wine predominantly from the north but increasingly now from the south too. What are the up and coming areas for good quality southern Rhone whites??


What in your view is the medium-long term future of winemaking in the southern Rhone? Are parts becoming too hot and dry? What will have changed in 10-20 years’ time?


Maybe AMA should be reinterpreted as “Ask Me About…”

I suppose I could ask “Cornas used to be a happy hunting ground for under-the-radar wines that over-performed. In the last 10 years or so, prices have rocketed and top producers have overtaken Cote Rotie. Are there any other appellations that you might tip the be ‘the next Cornas’ that we should try from the TWS catalogue?”


I could ask so many… here are a few:

  • I’ve never understood Chateauneuf do Pape in terms of the place. There isn’t an obvious geographical feature like the south-facing hill of Hermitage. The soils vary from sandy to galets. Is there really any distinctive CNDP terroir, or is it just that because wines from this area command higher prices, producers go for lower yields, etc, compared with elsewhere in the Southern Rhone? Should a CNDP actually be any better than a Lirac? Are there ageworthy Liracs that are better value?

  • it seems very hard to generalise about ageing wines for both the Northern and Southern Rhone… Do you think this is just about peoples’ preferences, or is it also about the wines themselves. And are there any useful generalisations?

  • is Brezeme the next Cornas? OK, I’m joking a little… but would be interested in your thoughts on this little-known cote!

  • if you can’t get Jamet or Clape (at a sensible price), what are the best alternatives?

  • is Languedoc better value than the Southern Rhone? OK, it’s not as simple as that. But for years and years I’ve heard Languedoc be described as exciting, much improved, a good hunting ground, etc… Be great to hear any specific thoughts.

  • do you think the new-generation negociants (Nicolas Perrin, St Cosme, Ferraton) are relative bargains in the N Rhone?


PS, will the answers be recorded? I’ve just seen that this is happening at 1pm on a Wednesday. Unfortunately, some of us have to work, and may be at work at that time, I suspect.

Marcel’s answers will be posted on that day/time, and if you’re around you can ask further questions ‘live’, but then the thread will remain available on the community pages, so you could read his responses whenever you are free. :blush:


Just thinking that a lot of these questions would be great topics for general chat here among the hoi polloi…