PREMIUM

Rhône 2018 En Primeur: Full report

A polarising vintage that was tricky in both the north and south and while there are patches of impressive wines to choose from this is not a vintage to buy blind reports Matt Walls...

In Brief: Rhone 2018 En Primeur

Northern Rhône 2018

4/5

Very hot and dry, resulting in a plentiful ripe crop. Many wines with low acidity and potent alcohol, but those that could achieve balance made impressive wines.

Southern Rhône 2018

3/5

A devastating attack of mildew hit the region in spring. Those who escaped the worst enjoyed a very hot and dry summer, resulting in juicy, generous reds and whites, some surprisingly good.


‘It’s never easy to summarise a Rhône Valley vintage, but in terms of consistency, the 2018 vintage in the Southern and Northern Rhône are poles apart’


For Stéphane Montez of Domaine de Monteillet in Côte-Rôtie it was ‘the vintage everyone dreams about.’ For many producers in the South, it was a disaster.

It’s never easy to summarise a Rhône Valley vintage, but in terms of consistency, the 2018 vintage in the Southern and Northern Rhône are poles apart.


Coming Soon. Quick link: See all Rhône 2018 en primeur tasting notes & scores


It’s not that conditions were wildly different; both ends experienced a wet spring followed by a sweltering summer. In the North, these conditions translated themselves into large yields of ripe fruit – sometimes very ripe. Growers were pleased, occasionally delighted, with the results.

The wet weather in the Southern Rhône however was much more severe and it triggered the worst outbreak of downy mildew winemakers had seen in generations. Jacqueline André of Domaine Pierre André in Châteauneuf-du-Pape said her father has never witnessed anything like it – and he’s 93.


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Rhône 2018 en primeur reports


I heard countless stories of producers losing half their crop or more. Although not all growers were affected, most would agree with Jean-Paul Daumen of Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, that it was ‘a very stressful year.’ Once this episode had passed, some went on to produce very good wines, generally in the ripe, juicy style of a hot vintage. But many wines lack depth, and even some reliable estates made disappointing wines.

In order to put together a broad selection of exciting wines to share with you, I tasted 1,200 wines and visited many lesser-known domaines that were new to me, and in doing so made a number of exciting discoveries. As always, I’ve covered all the 17 crus of the Southern and Northern Rhône, encompassing a range of styles, prices and colours to make a selection of 300 notable wines that will help you navigate this tricky vintage.


Best Producers in 2018:

Northern Rhône

Côte-Rôtie

Domaine JP Jamet
Domaine Rostaing
Domaine de Monteillet
Domaine Stéphane Ogier

Condrieu

Domaine Niero
Domaine de Monteillet
Domaine Chambeyron

Saint-Joseph

Domaine Gonon
Domaine JL Chave
M Chapoutier
Domaine Chirat
Domaine Jolivet

Cornas

Domaine Clape
Domaine Vincent Paris
Domaine Johann Michel
Domaine du Tunnel
Domaine Guy Farge

Saint-Péray

Domaine Clape
Domaine Bernard Gripa
Alain Voge
Domaine du Tunnel

Hermitage

Domaine JL Chave
M. Chapoutier
Cave de Tain

Crozes-Hermitage

Domaine les 4 Vents
Domaine Gaylord Machon
Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille
Domaine Melody
Domaine Yann Chave

Southern Rhône

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Château de Beaucastel
Domaine de la Vieille Julienne
Domaine de Cristia
Domaine de la Bastide Saint-Dominique
Domaine Pierre André

Gigondas, Vacqueyras & Beaumes de Venise

Domaine des Bosquets
Moulin de la Gardette
Domaine Santa Duc
Domaine la Monardière
Domaine la Ligière

Rasteau, Cairanne & Vinsobres

Domaine Alary
Domaine la Luminaille
Domaine Brusset
Domaine des Amadieu

Lirac & Tavel

Château de Montfaucon
Clos du Mont-Olivet
Domaine de la Mordorée
Château de Bouchassy

 


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See Rhone 2017’s report