Domaine Rostaing cellar

EN PRIMEUR: 2016 Rhone En Primeur

If 2015 vintage was outstanding in the Northern Rhône and very good in the Southern Rhône, then the situation is reversed for 2016 vintage, which was widely described by growers in the South – Charvin in particular – as one of the best they had seen.  And in the north, as one grower put it, “after 2015 vintage, when nature was particularly generous, 2016 offers us a beautiful winemaker vintage…”.  2016 certainly offers us a timely reminder that the two halves of the Rhône Valley are quite distinct, and often have sharply varying weather patterns.  In the North, following an unusually mild winter, the growing season started early – so when there was a nasty hail storm on 17th April, significant damage was caused in Hermitage and Crozes vineyards.  Flowering took place in good conditions, but was followed by cooler and wetter weather than average in June and July, and some problems with mildew as a result.  However, August was hot and early September even hotter, and totally dry – so rain was desperately needed to kick-start the ripening in mid-September.  This fortunately arrived, and grapes were harvested in excellent condition and very good levels of ripeness.

In the South, the vintage is an outstanding one.  As in the North, the winter was mild and the growing season began early.  A cool and windy March held things nicely in check, and there was neither frost nor hail to cause any damage during the delicate months of March and April.  The weather at the end of May and beginning of June was perfect for flowering – though some vineyards with more exposure to the Mistral suffered some coulure.  Summer was hot, particularly late August and early September, with wide variation between the very hot days and the comparatively cool nights.  The fruit ripened slowly and steadily, maintaining a particularly fine balance between aromatics, sugars and acidities.  The little rain that fell just before the harvest provided a welcome break from the unusually dry summer, and helped bring the final burst of maturity.  As Daniel Brunier of Vieux Télégraphe puts it: “the vintage is characterised by a superb balance of richness and freshness, and between high maturity and attractive acidity, which is fairly rare – very rare, even – in the southern Rhône Valley.”