Great tasting of Rhone 2009 put on by Berry Bros and Rudd in the grand but rather dimly lit surrounds of One Great George Street, in Westminster (this place is especially depressing during the daytime in winter; in the evening you can get away with the poor lighting).
It was a consumer event primarily, with press allowed, but these are pretty well behaved consumers, even though they do tend to block access to spittoons (in limited supply) and tables when things get busy. There was a tremendous turn-out of growers, and it would have been great to have an opportunity for brief one-to-ones with these high calibre individuals, but at an event like this you don’t want to get in the way of the paying punters by asking too many questions.
The wines? I tried 55, which is a reasonable number, with more of an emphasis on the north than the south. This probably reflects my preferences: I’m a sucker for cool-climate Shiraz. In general terms, the north did very well this vintage, with ripe, alluring, seductive wines of great purity and appeal. The south? It’s harder to tell. From my sampling, there were some very nice wines. But stylistic differences in the south are quite pronounced – perhaps even more so than in the north? There’s nothing much I’d rush to buy from the south, but there were quite a few things that tempted me from the north.
The great thing about the northern Rhone is that St Joseph and Crozes Hermitage from dedicated growers are fantastic wines that offer great value for money.
The pictures of growers, from top to bottom: Yves Cuilleron, , Francois Villard, Rene Rostaing, Jean-Michel Gerin, Maxime Graillot (great and great value Crozes Hermitage), and Philippe Chaume Arnaud (brilliant, affordable biodynamic Cadene Blanc Cotes du Rhone and Vinsobres).
Philippe Chaume Arnaud