2015 Rhône: A Vintage Overview
"I could be a winemaker for another 15 years, and not make a better vintage."
Stéphane Robert, Domaine du Tunnel
The release of the 2015 vintage has been much-anticipated in the Rhône Valley, with talk of the best wines produced in decades. I spent a week there last November, tasting hundreds of samples straight from the barrel. Having made our selection, I’m confident that we can celebrate alongside the vignerons: 2015 is a truly great vintage.
2015 is a standout vintage for Syrah in the Northern Rhône. Every area performed brilliantly, at every level. While hot weather reigned, a high water table from a wet winter and timely thunderstorms in July and August quenched the roots of otherwise suffering vines. These conditions led to powerful and concentrated wines that are also fresh, with great energy. Many winemakers consider this a great vintage mentioned in the same breath as 1990, or even 1961. What’s clear is that they’re impressive and ageworthy wines that belong in every cellar.
While less predictable in 2015, there are great whites produced throughout the Northern Rhône, and we’ve tasted carefully to select them. The best, most ageworthy examples from Hermitage and St-Joseph have the power, concentration and freshness to be extremely long-lived. Condrieu from the best producers is opulent and exotic, with vivacity and energy. These whites will be hugely pleasurable from day one.
With such a hot summer, there was a danger that the rich and ripe wines of Châteauneuf would become too much of a good thing. We’ve done the hard yards for you, and selected our range with extreme care. The wines here remain balanced and fresh, from some of the best producers, working with the coolest sites and the oldest vines. 2015 is a vintage to rediscover Châteauneuf.
The Rest of the South
In the South, it pays to get up into the hills, where altitude, ancient terroir and old vines in places like Gigondas and Vacqueyras have tempered some of that heat. Powerful yet balanced wines abound. They’ll offer long-lived everyday drinking, as well as coveted bottles for the years to come. The foothills of the Ventoux are also home to some of the most exciting winemakers in the country, who are discovering their own (sometimes unique) way of doing things.
Prices in the Rhône Valley remain fair and stable, with any rises only due to the fluctuating exchange rate rather than the winemakers. For wine lovers, this is compelling: here’s a region producing world-class wines, in tiny quantities, that will outlive most other fine wines. Add in the quality of the 2015 vintage, and it’s a region to stock up on. It’s what I intend to do.
Fine Wine Buyer