Rhône En Primeur Offer
Welcome to our 2022 Rhône Valley En Primeur Offer. The Rhône Valley continues to offer something for every pocket and something for every style, extraordinarily good rosé from Tavel, fresh mineral driven whites from Viogner, Clairette, Roussanne & Marsanne, densely packed reds and elegant fruit driven reds as too. The 2022 is shaping up to be a real crowd pleaser of a vintage and we are incredibly proud to have some of the brightest young stars as well as some of the most respected names of the Rhône, not only in the offer but coming to the tasting in London as well.
Every now and again a region or a wine captures the imagination and right now it is the appellation of Saint-Joseph to have a turn in the spotlight. Reds are made from Syrah and whites from Roussanne & Marsanne. There are a host of differing styles, bright citrus toned whites along with richer traditional styles too. The reds from the north tend to lean more on finesse and aromatics, whilst the southern counterparts have a little more weight and concentration. Whether its Lionnet, Bott, Niero, Bruyère et David or Clusel-Roch, delve in and sample the region that is all the talk at the moment – you will not be disappointed.
2022 is looking like an excellent vintage in the north, the whites have ripe fruit, balanced acidity and bright aromatic floral vibrancy. The reds are fruit forward, with great acidity, surprisingly fine tannins in general and very good structure, from Saint Joseph, Côte-Rôtie to Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage, there are some compelling wines to be had.
There are some really beautiful wines made in 2022 and it is shaping up to be a lovely vintage, the whites have aromatic freshness and fruit purity, whilst the reds can be complex, full of ripe fruit and fine-grained tannins whilst retaining great balance. Uniformly, from Lirac, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rasteau to Gigondas, we have some truly complex and age worthy wines.
Vintage Report: a return to form
The word that comes up time and again to describe the 2022 vintage is ‘extreme’. When I went to the southern Rhône last July, wildfires had engulfed the surrounding woods and scrubs of Châteauneuf-du-Pape as the mercury hit an extraordinary 41 degrees, on the heels of a winter drought and a dry summer it really came as no surprise. The new extremes of the weather are certainly setting a challenge to the vignerons in both the south and the north of the Rhône.
The growing season in early April started well with good bud burst and thankfully no repeat of the devastating frosts of 2021 that put paid to so many dreams. Up and down the valley there were reports of powdery mildew and the need to spray and to green-harvest, dropping fruit to allow the air through to stop more disease.
Then came the heat. Followed by more sunshine and more heat. When vines are pushed to the limit to find moisture, they become incredibly resourceful, but with little water in the ground many vines in the south (and a handful in the north) just shut down completely – slowing the growing and ripening process. Mercifully rain came toward the end of August – a kiss of life for the vines, in enough time to allow the fruit to fully ripen.
If these extremes of temperature weren’t enough, there was a small tornado that tore through the acclaimed Châteauneuf-du-Pape Lieu-dit 'La Crau' and up in Cornas a downpour of hail brought more tests of patience and some shredded nerves for some, but thankfully most grapes survived.
So, what about the wines? Across both regions, it really is a case of seeking out the conscientious winemakers because, as always, those that do the most work in the vineyards have the best fruit and, it follows, the brightest wines.
I spent 5 days travelling south to north in the first week of October this year to taste the 2022s with all our producers to get a more complete picture. Admittedly, I set out with some trepidation: the 2021 vintage had attracted a rather gloomy write-up from the press (somewhat unfairly in my view – the whites are rather brilliant and the juicy reds are for drinking straight off the bat, a vintage for now) and with 2022’s meteorological challenges, it was far from a straightforward vintage. Happily, the smile was soon back on my face: it was really heartening to see our winemakers so happy with the overall picture of 2022, having narrowly avoided a repeat of the big, burly, cooked-fruit wines of 2003. I really liked what I tasted both in the south, with its abundant fruit and good acidity, and the bright textured wines of the north, again with a surprising amount of acidity and great balance.
In short, I am excited to share the 2022 vintage. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape there are some brilliant wines from all our domaines. Elsewhere, Mordorée’s Lirac Blanc is worth a special mention as are their Côtes du Rhône. I was super impressed with Gigondas for the purity of fruit from both Bouïssière and Santa Duc. The wines from Lionnet in Cornas get better with every vintage his 2022s are really worth putting in the cellar. As I moved further up the Rhone, the Crozes Hermitage producers have also put together some really compelling wines. My time in the far north was very rewarding too, the Condrieus in 2022 are bright and floral with little-to-no fatness and the Côte-Rôties can be a hedonist's delight when young and on the sapid juicy fruit. In this fruit-forward vintage the temptation to drink them young, as the French often do, is considerable, but a few cases put away in the cellar for a few years will reward patience tenfold. Consider buying twice as much so that you can try it now and later. North to south, this vintage is a return to form.
Lea & Sandeman Rhône Buyer
Producers in this offer
Domaine Bruyère & David
Domaine Clos de la Bonnette
Domaine Patrick & Christophe Bonnefond
Domaine Gilles Robin
Domaine Rémi Niero
Domaine Bott 'Les Kiwis d'Ampuis'