Late winter at condrieu  looking north toward co%cc%82te ro%cc%82tie

Northern Rhône: Solid ’14 Reds and Outstanding ’15 Whites

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Jul 2017

The northern Rhône produced a number of excellent red wines in 2014, although yields are down. Happily, 2015 brought an ideal growing season and harvest, with healthy quantities of clean fruit. My early look at the finished white wines indicates that ’15 is a vintage for the ages.

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Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc: Moving Out of the Shadows

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Jun 2017

With the 2015 vintage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape stakes its claim as one of the Rhône Valley’s top growing regions for white wines. The better examples are now equal in quality to many of their highly esteemed and generally better-known northern Rhône cousins, even Hermitage and Condrieu. Unfortunately, there’s not much wine to go around.

The famed hermitage vineyards rise above tain'l'hermitage  as viewed from tournon copy

2015 Northern Rhônes: Outstanding Wines for the Long Haul

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Apr 2017

More than a few producers I visited this winter called 2015 “a vintage marked more by the climate than by terroir,” with the fruit and the warm conditions speaking more strongly than place character. That may be true for now but I also believe that 2015 is a seriously great vintage and one of the best in a generation for the northern Rhône.

Early december  post 2016 harvest in cha%cc%82teauneuf du pape copy

2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Power and Balance

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Mar 2017

While the 2015 growing season was very warm in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this vintage is no replay of the high-octane 2007 or 2003. The ‘15s are hardly shrinking violets but they also display healthy balancing acidity and freshness.

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2015 Beaujolais Part 2: A Vintage of Richness and Energy

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Jan 2017

The last three vintages for Beaujolais have been a string of home runs, but 2015 is likely to be the one that delivers the greatest impact and pleasure for most wine lovers. Two thousand fifteen has plenty of candidates for wine of the year; wines that deliver concentration and energy, with opulent fruit character and the classic core of acidity that gives Beaujolais its trademark vivacity. These wines are also built to age but at the same time display an exuberance that makes many of them pretty irresistible now.

Beaujolais 2015 vineyard   new

2015 Beaujolais Preview: Atypically Brawny but Often Excellent

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Aug 2016

While Beaujolais has been on as strong a roll as any wine region in France over most of the last decade, the 2015 vintage in Beaujolais has been receiving more attention than any I can recall, including the outstanding 2014 and 2013. But do the ‘15s justify the hype, especially for veteran fans of these wines?

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2014 Beaujolais: Another Dream Vintage

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Aug 2016

Readers who enjoy Beaujolais need to stock up on the best 2014s for both immediate enjoyment as well as for cellaring. And there are many more of these top choices than usual in 2014. Stylistically the wines bear comparison to classically proportioned vintages such as 2010 and 2011, with abundant fresh fruit as well as depth and structure, all working smoothly together.

Moulin a%cc%80 vent  as viewed from the northern sector of fleurie copy

A Lucky ‘13 for Beaujolais Lovers

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Jul 2016

The last decade has witnessed some of the best Beaujolais vintages in history. Two thousand thirteen is proving more than qualified to stake its claim among them.

Bucolic cairanne as seen from its vineyards  cover

The Southern Rhône’s Value Play

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Jun 2016

Although much attention is usually focused on the southern Rhône Valley’s elite areas – namely Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueyras – the vast majority of the region’s wines come from less-sexy locales. Not surprisingly, these bottlings are almost always priced more gently than their fancy, better-known cousins. Best of all, in many instances they offer stunning value.

The sweeping vista south and west from the tiny mountainside village of gigondas 2

2014 and 2013 Gigondas: Wines to Drink, Not Hold

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, May 2016

Fans of approachable southern Rhône red wines will find plenty to like from the 2014 vintage in Gigondas, wines that resemble the elegant 2008s and 2004s. Those two earlier vintages, which were widely overlooked by buyers in a rush to snag the hyped 2003s, 2005s 2007s and 2009s that bookended them, have emerged in recent years as exemplars of the southern Rhône in a minor key. I’m betting that the 2014s will also initially be overlooked because of what’s shaping up to be overheated pursuit of the 2015s.