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Rhône 2021 en primeur: full vintage report and top-scoring wines

In a year beset with difficulties - from devastating frost to hail, disease and rot - truly great wines are few and far between. Matt Walls provides his expert analysis on this tough vintage, with recommendations for the smattering of excellent wines that made the best of the conditions.

Rhône 2021 en primeur vintage rating:

Northern Rhône: 2.5/5

Consistently excellent white wines, but reds very mixed due to severe frost and a mild, rainy season. Some are weak and green, others very good in a fresh and structured style.

Southern Rhône: 2/5

Fresh, bright, intense white wines throughout the region. A hard frost reduced yields and produced a fragile harvest for reds. Quality is mixed; many wines lack ripeness, but there are some very good wines in a lean, fresh style with relatively low alcohols.

‘It’s an exceptional year for white wine in both the southern and northern Rhône. I tasted many red wines that were thin and green this year…But in the darkness, there are glimmers of light’

How do you define a bad vintage? If you’re a grower, you might say it’s a year of poor weather, disease and pests. Low yields too, even if quality is acceptable, means producers will be out of pocket. Wine lovers aren’t quite so concerned about conditions or quantity, however – it’s the quality in the bottle that matters most to us.

From anyone’s point of view therefore, 2021 will not go down as a good vintage. ‘It’s the year you never wish for,’ said Jean Gonon of Domaine Gonon, with a degree of sangfroid, ‘but it happens.’

Top-scoring Rhône 2021 wines:

The wines below all scored 96 points or above, and are listed white then red in score order.

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