Genesis Rhône 2010 Vintage Review
The 2010 vintage is a remarkable year, but how does it compare with the other recent good vintages? In the North the 2010 is being likened by some growers to the 2006 and it certainly does offer all the weighty fruits that boasted, but there is an air of freshness and finesse that stands these wines apart. The southern Rhône has seen its wines compared with the brilliant 2005 but again I don’t think this does them enough justice. There is a certain grace to the 2010s, and that is not something I say often of the Southern Rhône. 2010 is simply a wonderful vintage, the only down-side being the much reduced yields experienced in the South. This certainly is a vintage of quality if not quantity.
The vines benefitted from a wet and cool spring, this gave the vines an opportunity to store vital water and energy for the growing season. Throughout April and early May the vintage saw bouts of coulure and a smaller than expected flowering. June/July however saw the temperature increase leading to a healthy burst of ripening, followed by a moderate August that allowed the vines to maintain a good level of acidity. September was hot again this year, but a bout of rain towards the end of the month allowed the grapes to hang on into early October. However the vines in the South produced a miserly quantity of grapes due to the coulure, the grapes however were exceptionally concentrated.
From the slopes of Côte Rôtie through to Hermitage the wines express wonderful minerality, not overwhelming but well infused, helping to create freshness and a lush character. The minerality is especially noticeable in the whites. Packed with blossom and tropical fruit aromas they are simply delicious. Some of my stand-out wines this year include the delightful Condreius of François Villard; once again these wines show a clarity and pureness
second to none. Natacha Chave (Domaine Aléofane) has produced a spectacular St Joseph brimming with dark fruits and spiced notes. Of course the wines of “Mr Côte Rôtie” himself, René Rostaing, deserve more than a brief mention. In this superb vintage Rostaing has made remarkable wines, adding “Une grande année por moi” for good measure. This year the Northern Rhône has produced wines that have plenty of power and fruit, but also delicacy and show a great finesse. There are some extraordinarily good wines in 2010.
The warm growing season really shows in the Southern Rhône wines. It created wine with great colour, sweet fruits and ripe tannins, but still showing the same finesse found in the North. Overall the wines are well rounded with perfect balancing acidity. They are fleshy, well structured and together, giving great potential for ageing. My first highlights of the trip were the wines from Domaine La Mordorée. I am a huge fan of this Domaine and the 2010’s did not disappoint. Christophe Delorme has hailed his Châteauneuf Reine des Bois as “one of the 3 best wines I have made”. Another delight from Châteauneuf was the Cuvée Reservée from Domaine Vieille Julienne; this wine is everything you could wish for from the Rhône, packets of fruit, good structure and that all important finesse! The whites are not to be ignored either; one of my favourite wines of the campaign was the Châteauneuf Blanc “La Fontaine” from Domaine Grand Veneur. Outside the more famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de la Monardière from Vacqueyras showed wines with poise that were a pleasure to taste. Whatever your style preference there are some brilliant wines to be picked up from this stellar vintage.
The 2010 vintage has produced wines of extreme finesse, rich fruit flavours, phenolic ripeness, structure, and a great overall balance. This all makes for a great vintage. On the whole, prices have generally increased a little but this can be expected and the wines truly do justify the price. When one considers the value of sterling and the economic climate it is fair to say that the growers of the Rhône continue to act in a reasonable manner – unlike the record price hikes consumers faced yet again from the Bordelaise. The whites from the 2010 vintage can be enjoyed right away; they deliver great freshness and clarity of fruit, but with an acidity to add a definite aging potential. The reds however are very much in line for aging They have all the qualities for wines with a very long lifespan ahead of it; great tannin structure, great acidity and a complexity that will only get better with age. 2010 is the perfect vintage for cellaring; these wines will offer the greatest rewards to those willing to wait a little. It is worth noting that yields are among the lowest in a generation. Volumes will be very restricted, but 2010 is a brilliant vintage in the Rhône Valley and should be in every decent cellar.
James Price, November 2011