2018 Rhône En Primeur
2018 is a beautiful vintage across the Rhône Valley, the wines having intense aromatic complexity, with ripeness, power and freshness in perfect balance.
In the south, quantities are – once again – severely reduced: unprecedented amounts of rain in May and June, with the absence of the drying Mistral, caused mildew to spread, thus limiting potential volumes. Thankfully hot, dry weather followed and dominated the months running up to harvest, allowing each vineyard plot to be harvested at perfect maturity. But the crop was small, particularly for old vine Grenache, with some domaines being 80% down. Conversely, quality is high: we were struck by the vibrancy of these southern reds, which combine generous fruit with silky textures and fine structures.
The northern Rhône fared better during the spring, but it was the almost-too-perfect summer that was a potential concern, allowing grape sugar levels to climb. Picking at exactly the right moment, when the grapes still had enough balancing natural acidity, was key to the success of the wines here. The results are impressive, the wines having tightly concentrated fruit and velvety tannins (thanks to the ripeness of the grape skins), with lively acidity to finish.
We heartily recommend this vintage for both early drinking, fruity styles and for splendid, concentrated wines for mid to long-term cellaring. Our impression is that, in general, these 2018s will be approachable sooner than the equivalent wines in 2017.
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