Bridge at Tain

EN PRIMEUR: 2018 Rhone En Primeur

The 2018 growing season got off to a very promising start with growers, particularly in the south, looking forward to a generous crop to compensate for the very small 2017 harvest.  Alas, the early promise was not to last.  The warm, wet and windless weather of May and early June provided perfect conditions for mildew, with the southern Rhône especially severely hit.  For the first time in more than forty years, the mildew spread from the leaves to the bunches, and in the space of three or four days, the grapes were devastated.  Jean-Paul Versino told us that in some parcels – especially Grenache – up to 90% of the crop was lost.  Damage was worse in some areas than others, with flat and lower-lying ground more susceptible than higher slopes, and while some growers seem to have treated with some success, most found it impossible as the spray treatment was so quickly washed away by the rain.  By the middle of June, growers in the south appeared to be facing disaster – but from mid-June onwards, matters improved sharply, with broadly good weather for the rest of the season.  Several commented that on 15th June they could never have imagined achieving the outstanding quality levels that resulted from what had survived the mildew.  In the north, damage was far less, and what began as a precocious year continued in very much the same vein.  René Rostaing described 2018 as the perfect season for fruit growing – with plenty of sun, good heat levels, and sufficient rain.  Picking in both the north and the south took place in excellent conditions, with just the necessity in the north to resist the temptation to pick too early.  Overall, the wines are soft, fresh and balanced, with great ripeness of both fruit and tannins, and good potential for ageing.

Chateauneuf du Pape 2