Southern Rhône 2018
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.
Scroll down to see Matt’s top Southern Rhône tasting notes and scores
One of the most important aspects of terroir in the Southern Rhône is the mistral. This penetrating north wind follows the rain, drying wet bunches and helping to keep diseases at bay. But after successive rains throughout a very warm May the mistral never came and mildew spread like wildfire. ‘It happened in one night,’ says Vincent Avril of Clos des Papes who eventually lost 70% of his crop.
Mildew is a fungus-like organism that attacks all the green parts of the vine. It causes leaves to drop, which hampers ripening, and when it attacks the stems it arrests the flow of sap, leaving blackened, wizened bunches. It affected all varieties but Grenache was especially prone, and it had a cruel predilection for old vines. Mourvèdre was fairly resistant however, and Mourvèdre-heavy blends performed well in 2018.
‘There are many excellent wines, but these are the exceptions – there are countless others that are simply best avoided’