An en primeur tasting of 2010 Rhones hosted by Cambridge Wine Merchants at St John's Chophouse, Cambridge. Many thanks to Stewart Travers, CWM's Senior Buyer, for the kind invite.
My general impression was that it was a very good vintage and from what was available to taste, it was uniform in both North and South. The fruit as well as the tannins were sweet and ripe with most wines showing good balance; several wines were even enjoyable at this stage. The wines which I found most notable are listed below, along with necessarily brief notes. Domaine de Escaravailles and Mas de Boislauzon wines in particular showed very well throughout its range.
Prices are per case of 12x75cl in bond excluding duty and VAT; points are marked out of 20.
Luberon Blanc, Perrin & Fils
£36 | 16.5
Good, clearly defined fruit expression on the palate; fresh, lemony and clean without being overly simple; good value.
Saint Peray Le Mialan, Ferraton et Fils
£84 | 16.5
Good fruit expression, again lemony but with more on the finish; a slightly bigger wine compared to the Luberon. Fresh, fruity, forward.
Condrieu, Laurent Bretton
£200 | 17.25
Nice floral and even sweet notes on the nose. Palate feels lean, fat lemony fruit, almost waxy. Big, textured, finishes a bit too quickly; a serious wine but left me feeling this could be better...
Reds - Southern Rhone
Ventoux ' Les Esclausels', Dom de Cassan
£45 | 16.5++
Dark fruits and jammy, licorice, rather hot. Lots of fruit not over extracted, quite muscular and good tannic grip. 2014-17.
Cotes du Rhone 'Les Sablieres', Dom des Escaravailles
£50 | 16.5+
Slightly dirty, muddy, brett on the nose (not enough to be a fault, so probably going for style?) with red fruit. Clean and bright ref fruits on the palate, fresh, attractive. 2012-2016
Cotes du Rhone 'Les Antimagnes' Rouge, Dom des Escaravailles
£65 | 16.5++
Quite rustic on the nose, with cassis and dark fruit. Attractive bright fruit, backed up by vibrant acidity. Feels lighter than the amount of fruit would suggest. Good for early drinking. 2012-2017.
Cotes du Rhone Villages, Mas de Boislauzon
£72 | 16.5++
Dark fruit, with some floral touches. Remarkable balance and integration on palate - bags of fruit, tannic structure and acidity all in harmony. Should be enjoyable on delivery. 2012-2017.
Cairanne 'Les Ventabren', Dom des Escaravailles
£82 | 17++
Meaty, bacon, savoury on the nose; then dark fruits, slightly more complex. Bright fruits showing, vibrant acidity; no excessive grip. Should be enjoyable on delivery. 2012-2016.
Vacqueyras, Dom Saint Pierre
£102 (tbc) | 16.5++
Gamey, bacon nose, savoury; also cassis. Good depth, extracted dark fruits, verging on woody; tannins a bit green and grippy at the moment, should help it age well. 2014-2020.
Rasteau 'La Ponce', Dom des Escaravailles
£92 | 17+
Compote, fruit and floral touches. Good fruit showing, approachable; plenty going on in the palate, longer finish. A clear step up. 2014-2020.
Rasteau 'Heritage 1924', Dom des Escaravailles
£121 | 17+
Compote, slightly hot but closed. Feels bigger and more extracted, darker berries, good flavour intensity. Still maintaining freshness in acidity; surprisingly nimble. 2013-2020.
Roaix 'Les Hautes Granges', Dom des Escaravailles
£115 | 17.5+
Black pepper, smoke and cured meats on the nose, also floral; feels more Northern Rhone in style, exciting and vivid. Plenty of fruit, textured and layers of flavours. Seductive, superb wine; great value and my pick from this producer at this tasting; significant restraint needed in not ordering a case for myself. 2013-2020.
Chateauneuf du Pape, Mas de Boislauzon
£209 | 17.5++
Attractive red and dark fruits showing, slightly hot. Fruit shows depth and concentration, supported by tannic and acid structure. Fairly old school in style, a long haul Chateauneuf. 2015-2030+
Chateauneuf du Pape 'Cuvee de Quet', Mas de Boislauzon
£550 | 17.5++
Dark fruits, some smoke and even port on the nose. Very dark and extracted, lots of fruit, inky black; big, muscular and grips all over the place; chunky power, finesse was thrown out of the cellar window. Knocks your lights out, says 15%abv but I don't believe it, not for the faint hearted (or shallow pocketed). No surprise then it has had high Parker ratings. Ridiculously heavy bottle to boot. 2015-2040+
Reds - Northern Rhone
Crozes Hermitage 'La Matiniere', Ferraton Pere et Fils
£79 | 16.5++
Lovely elegance on the nose and palate; good fruit supported by acidity. Feel that this isnt expressing itself that well. 2013-2017
Crozes Hermitage 'Les Picheres', Ferraton Pere et Fils
£110 | 17++
Plenty of fruit on the nose. Palate is fresh and bright, fruit is well defined, tannic and acid structure supportive; balance is the key here. All components feels together. Serious wine, will develop nicely. 2013-2020
Crozes Hermitage 'Les Rouvre', Yann Chave
£142 | 16.5+
Dark fruits, cassis and almost raisin like port notes; rather unusual. Rather extracted dark fruits, some acidity in there; nice balance on the palate, a good wine in all notwithstanding the weird nose. Will probably run out of acidity before the fruit dries out. 2013-2020.
Hermitage, Yann Chave
£422 | 17.5++
Dark fruits on the nose. Serious extraction, depth and concentration, a big wine which lingers on the palate; fine tannins. Will age with grace. 2015-2030+.