A tasting of Rhone wines with H2Vin at the St James' Hotel
2012 was a relatively cool year in the Rhone, resulting - according to my guide notes - in beautiful fruit, freshness, lower alcohol and fine tannins.
These characteristics were all certainly in evidence in the 2012s I tried, but I started with a couple of whites.
Prices are IB per case of 12; all 2012s unless indicated
Some lovely, fresh white Rhones here - and it's not often I say that.
St Peray Version (Marsanne/Roussane) £130 honeysuckle, yellow stone fruit, perfumed, fresh and lively yet composed.
Condrieu De Poncins (Viognier) £310 floral, apricotty, elegant, balanced. Fresh and long, concentrated. Good.
Clos du Caillou
I picked this wine for its evocative name - "scent of garrigue"
Cotes du Rhone Bouquet des Garrigues (Grenache Blanc, Clairette Rose, Viognier, Bourboulenc) £90 light, crisp, refreshing and floral, a waxy creaminess develops.
Equis and Domaine des Lises
Some lovely textbook northern Rhones that just get better going up the price points.
Crozes-Hermitages Equinoxe (Syrah) £90 truffley undergrowth, ripe dark berries, vanilla sweetness; fresh, elegant and balanced.
Crozes-Hermitage Les Lises (Syrah, 2011) £132 truffley, liquorice, more complex; fuller palate, more concentrated and substantial. Good.
St Joseph Equis (Syrah, 2011) £140 tarry, mushrooms, dark fruit and spice; more elegance, length and savouriness. Very Good.
Cornas Equis (Syrah, 2010) £275 even more savouriness, concentration and length. Very Good Indeed.
Pierre Gaillard's wines were all technically impressive, but somehow restrained, closed up, not thrilling. I wondered if this was a factor of their youth but was told that it is his style.
St Joseph Les Pierres (Syrah) £220 spice, dark fruit, restrained and elegant. Prominent fruit and fresh acidity with savouriness.
Cote Rotie (Syrah, Viognier) £280 perfumed, dark fruits; vanilla sweetness, a velvety texture, fresh lively acidity, savouriness and a peppery finish.
Cote Rotie Empreintes (Syrah, 2011) £395 spice and dark fruit; sweet vanilla, fresh acidity, more dark fruit with cool mint, savouriness and a softly assertive texture.
Cote Rotie Rose Poupre (Syrah) £540 complex, assured nose; dark fruit, spice and cool mint. Incredible texture - velvety, long, savoury and elegant with a persistence on the finish. Very Good Indeed.
Top White - De Poncins
Best-Value White - St Peray Version
Top Red - Cornas Equis
The Pierre Gaillard wines proved something of an enigma for me - in a short tasting, they seemed a little wallflower-elusive; my head said "Good", but my heart didn't skip a beat.
However, I can well imagine falling quietly in love with them in the course of an evening's closer acquaintance.
Other related articles
Rhone and Iggy Pop
Rhone at Justerini's
Rhone En Primeur 2010 at Cambridge Wine Merchants
H2Vin - website