The Rhône Rangers

A thread for all things of interest to fans of the Rhône.

To kick things off, Rhone North and South seems to have done well in 2016, maybe with the South getting the edge. 2017 looks to be somewhat compromised with low yields and low rainfall and high heat, but who knows. Maybe growers with very old vines and deep roots may make a terrific wine.
I, for one am looking forward to the time when I can access my 2015 stash, for which I roundly applaud Marcel at giving us a list for the ages.
What Rhône goodies do you have or will be trying this Christmas?
Some might find or think that posting here is foreboding.
It most certainly is not, it is just sharing a liking or even a latent passion with similar people and hopefully gaining some knowledge and sharing experiences. It’s meant to be fun!
Look at me, I’m Welsh and we never use ONE word when TEN will do.
I look forward to hearing from you.

It was a Rhone wine that was my epiphany moment and since then did not shy away from trying new wines from North and South and can say I am a fan.

When I started to “get into wine” a few years back (2013 to be precise), I was intrigued to read about the Rhone as one of the holy trinity of red wine in France. So I went and bought a case of 2012 Hermitage La Chapelle from Jaboulet on a massive impulse and I am still thinking I might regret this decision… still have not tried this.

At the same time I convinced a friend it is a good idea to sign up for a Rhone tasting at Berry Bros. It was tutored by Anne McHale MW and turned out to be one of the best wine decisions I have made so far. I was gobsmacked that they actually do white wines as well and what fantastic examples… a first for me to taste white CndP and white Hermitage - don’t ask for the wineries I will not remember.

It was also the first time I actually understood the terms wet dog and game (sauvage) for wine. It was crystal clear from some red CndP tasted, but contrary to what you associate with these terms they were great.

The wine of the night for me was the 2005 Hermitage from one JL Chave… it honestly blew my mind away. It was young, fresh, complex, I am not one that can describe a wine, but believe me this was awesome. (Imagine my excitement when I learned that TWS is the one true source of this nectar in the UK)

I have since had wonderful condrieu, hermitage, cote rotie, saint joseph, CndP, lirac to name a few and this region keeps impressing me. What more the price also seems to be right.

Saint Joseph and Cornas remind me of the wine my father makes in his cellar (strictly for family and friends) in Hungary.


Some years ago, I attended a Beaucastel tasting organised by Lady Bute of Bute
Wines and the late Francois Perrin of Chateau Beaucastel. I could witter on about the magnificent dinner or the 1990 Homage, even the straight Beaucastel but the one wine that totally blew me away that night was the Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes white wine. It was unctuous and so complex, but the one sensation that will live with me forever was the sensation of stones of extraordinary minerality rolling around in my mouth. It was as if the wine had encapsulated some mini gallets and they were part of the textural experience. To complete a quite magical night, a few of us retired to the hotels lounge as you do. As time went on, it cleared and some late comers arrived for a night cap. In fact they were Deacon Blue and they told us that they had just done a gig in Aberdeen and were staying the night. And so to the amazing bit, one of them went to the lounge grand piano and started playing, we were treated to their repertoire of “greatest hits” and to further delight us; a game of us naming a song and they would play and sing it. They were so talented, I do not have the words. Unbelievable but true!! Sadly, around 4.00 a.m. a member of staff turned up and informed us that there had been some complaints about the “noise” and suggested that the evenings entertainment was at an end. I should recount that I did a guided tour of the hotels wine cellar later that morning and to me and my little wine world it was a profound disappointment.
Nights to remember, I am sure that we all have a few but that is one of mine.


I have been contemplating this wine for a long time… I will go in and buy next time.


It was quite a while ago but the Beaucastel Rousanne VV is the best Southern Rhone white wine I have had so far!

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As an aside, the Society do have another bottling of their Exhibition Hermitage Rouge, by Chave up their shirtsleeves for our future delectation. I think that it maybe the 2010 vintage and will be released in a few years time.
I must commend the Society, and Marcel in particular for the excellent relationship we have with Maison Chave. As members, we are very fortunate to have access and long may it continue. I did buy some 2007 when offered and that will be on our Christmas consumption list. Also purchased was the 2005 bottling, which will be reserved for another year.
I did buy some 2015 Hermitage EP from the opening offer, that however may take some time to come around.
So, for the time bring, searching and scrambling around for “a point” wines.
I live in hope!

A fantastic wine.

Have you tried this actual bottling?
It isn’t Chave’s Propriety Hermitage, rather wine that was not representative of the vintage, younger vines wine or the production from plots that did not make the cut for his standard cuvee. There is a Chave bottling called Farconnet but I have not been able to discover whether the Farconnet is relabelled as our Exhibition or is our Exhibition a stand-alone unique cuvee, not available elsewhere??
I would love to put that one to bed.
I really enjoy this wine stuff, when one has to be Sherlock, Hercule and Maigrait; all rolled up into one detecting entity!?!
No doubt one day, we will get there.:wink:

Update (New information)

Taken from the WS Exhibition Hermitage 2010 page:

The Society’s Exhibition Hermitage
The Chaves are owners in many of the best plots on Hermitage. Each vineyard is harvested and vinified separately before being raised in Burgundian barrels. Jean-Louis Chave starts making up his blends after these elements have spent a year or so in barrel and, inevitably, some of become surplus to requirements. It is these parcels that form the basis of The Society’s Exhibition Hermitage.

So our bottling may be all of Chave’s surplus wine or possibly blended with purchased wine that may be used for Farconnet, a Chave bottled Hermitage made exclusively of purchased wine. It must be said that as members of the Society, we are fortunate in the extreme to have exclusive access to such a gem, fashioned for us by one of the planets greatest winemakers!!

no, you are right I misunderstood… I only tried the proprietary bottling

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Just for interest, a really great Crozes can rival an Hermitage.
It doesn’t happen too often, but I have hopes of the 2015 Ferraton Crozes Grand Courtil might come close.
I have tasted Thalabert from really good years, and I bought the 2015.
Just maybe, Caroline Frey has tuned it around.
My favourite Crozes producer is Graillot, on form he is hard to beat.
Sad to say, I missed out on his 2015.

Getting organised for Christmas, one can never start too early.
Found some Chapoutier Les Varroniers Crozes 2009 from a well regarded merchant at a reasonable price. Very well written up on the Advocate, so an 'iccle prezzie for me. One can never be sure, as to what the WS might release over the next 6 weeks or so. I just may be slow or unavailable and miss out. This is my strategy for ensuring some cracking Crozes that will suit Partridge or Guinea Fowl or even Venison.
But still scouring the Society’s list for a last minute gem!?!:crossed_fingers:

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I currently have two Rhone bottles at home both impulse buys, but suspect I will have to wait with these. As someone who has been appreciating Rhone wines for so long, what would you say when these will be best?

  1. 2011 Ermitage L’Ermite Rouge - Chapoutier
  2. 2013 Cote-Rotie La Sereine - Gangloff

Cellartracker suggests they are already in the drinking window and will be there for the next 20-30 years.

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The Gangloff according to DrinkRone is ready from 2018. 4.5/6 Stars
The Advocate did not taste the Gangloff 2013.
DRh suggested 2018 as the beginning of the drinking window
So, on that one I might wait until 2020.

For the Chapoutier, you did very well with an Advocate score of 98+/100 and DrinkRhone 5/6 stars
Both say drink from 2016, DRh says wait "the longer the better!"
So, if I were you, I would defer until 2020.

They are both written up well and I would be ecstatic to have purchased them.

You have 2 absolute crackers there, it would be a shame to open them too early.
Again, if I were you and budget allows, I would consider the following, I bought them also

2013 Chapoutier St Joseph Le Clos 2013
2011/12 Dumien Serette Cornas Patou
2012 Tunnel St Joseph
and a bottle or three of the Mas du Libian 2014 for general consumption and because its nice to support winemakers who use a shire horse!?! These people make lovely wine at a knockdown price.
All off the WS list.

Sorry, if this is disappointing for you, but there is little worse when you only have one bottle of each of these beauties and you broached them too early.
Now, if you had a 12 bottle case of each of them, I would advocate opening one this and next Christmas. That would enable you to track their development and that is a very valuable lesson all of us should or have learned

Hope this helps.

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Thanks, that is very helpful. Will hold on to those bottles for a few years more then.

I will consider those you recommend. I have had St. Joseph wines before from Chapoutier, although not this particular one, and did enjoy them. I do not remember trying a Cornas yet, so should remediate that.

I’ve got my fist ever withdrawal from my WS Reserves arriving next week … obviously very exciting times!!

Included in my delivery will be a couple bottles of Cote Rotie Cote Brune Domaine Barge 2010

I’ve got less experience with N Rhone reds than perhaps some other wines, so with some knowledgeable people around the community, I’d love to get some opinions on what to expect / when to open / what to eat.

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I don’t know this wine… the cellartracker community looks to rate it high, and suggest drinking from 2020. TWS en primeur offer notes drinking window starts 2016. It is probably very good now, but should probably hang on to most bottles longer.

I was browsing TWS’s website (as you do) and came across this:
Has anyone tried? I am minded to add this to my Christmas order.

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It seem 2016 is to look out for…

Same here, nice to have ready to go wines, rather than ones for ten years hence! 2005 is a 10/10 on the WS’s own vintage chart. Sure its good, could be great!

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Just noticed that the DrinkRhone website and John Livingstone - Learmonth, the well respected & lauded Rhône expert has given the Delas 2016 wine 4 Stars and a terrific write-up!. Says quite a bit on the vintage quality.
For a wine to get that rating, at £7.50 is rare indeed.
The good thing is 97,000 bottles were produced, the bad is that they will be flying out of the door.
Me, bought 3 bottles for immediate delivery and 12 bottles into my reserves.