Winemakers in the Rhone are increasingly confident that the 2015 vintage is set to be one of the best in years, despite the Grenache crop being described by one producer as 'a game of nerves'.

Update March 2017: Read our full overview of the 'excellent' Northern Rhône 2015 vintage

The Rhone 2015 vintage has been one of the region’s earliest starts to a wine harvest, beginning on 27 August, but optimism has been building among winemakers and grape growers.

Stephane Ogier, of Domaine Stephane Ogier, finished harvesting the Côte-Rôtie grapes back on 12 September, and credits the good vintage to the cooler weather in August, which followed a very hot and dry June and July.

‘The crop was remarkably healthy, no doubt thanks to the weather in August…’ he said.

‘There’s not a single plot that I would qualify as “lesser”. They go from very good to exceptional whether it’s Village or Premier Crus.’

His enthusiasm was matched by many producers on social media, including well known wine group M Chapoutier, which finished harvesting in Chateauneuf du Pape last week.

Mathieu Jullien, joint owner at Domaine de la Mirandole, in the Côte du Rhône, said conditions this year were perfect for the grape ripeness.

But, he said it was ‘a game of nerves’ with the Grenache. Conditions were ‘perfect for slowly achieving a perfect ripeness… but localised rain was forecasted almost everyday. Growers had to decide wether to wait for a little bit more ripeness, with the risk of being exposed to more rain and its downside (dilution, rot, etc…) or pick what was there.’

Although some pickers were in the vineyards on 27 August, most of the red grapes were picked from 7 September onwards.

(Editing by Chris Mercer)