2009 White Rhônes

Although sales of 2010 Bordeaux are still frothing, we thought the relatively quiet time between now and the printed offer arriving on your doorstep would be a good time to have a look at a much underrated category: White Rhônes.

We have a few 2009’s in stock at the moment, and they neatly form 2 distinct categories; on the one hand, early-drinking wines from Condrieu that owe their beguiling stone-fruit and white flower aromatics to the Viognier grape. Very seductive in their youth, but without the searing acidity to allow for extended ageing, the whites from Condrieu are one of the only fine wines that do not get better with age. This is just as well, considering how difficult they are to resist from the moment they are bottled! Here are our two favourites at the moment:

2009 Condrieu La Combe de Malleval, Domaine Michel et Stéphane Ogier
£240.00 per case of 12 under bond

Lovely, enticing nose of almond-blossom, fresh apricot and white musk. The palate is dense and vibrant with a lovely creamy texture, very floral and complex. From the granite terroir of Maleval this is a fresh, lively style of Condrieu which has worked very well in 2009. 




2009 Condrieu Clos Boucher, Delas Frères
£180.00 per case of 6 under bond

The grapes come exclusively from the “Clos Boucher” vineyards, which enjoy southern exposure, just like the famous Château Grillet, its closest neighbour.  This wine is light gold in colour.  It has a wonderful concentration of intense, ripe stone fruit flavours and an elegant honeysuckle fragrance.  The 100% new oak ageing gives the wine added structure and finesse, with a fantastic mineral quality on the finish.  Very impressive. (Robert Parker: 94 points)

Other great White Rhônes from 2009

On the other hand, we have the very individual Roussanne/Marsanne blends from the Northern and Southern parts of the Rhône Valley.  Marsanne’s chief attributes are its full body and heady, honeyed and nutty perfume. It is a great partner for Roussanne, whose haunting, savoury aroma and fresh acidity lift the blend beautifully.  We have selected 3 examples from our current stocks, but these do come into their own with more bottle age, and older examples of Hermitage or white Châteauneuf-du-Pape are very much worth hunting down:

2009 Hermitage Blanc Les Rocoules, Marc Sorrel
£360.00 per case of 6 under bond

90% Marsanne and 10% Roussanne.  Aromas of cut grass, honey and almond fill the glass. Notes of toast and cream lead into a palate of mouthcoating richness, with sweet, slightly honeyed nut and herb flavours coming through. Very broad, yet supremely deliniated, this wine has all the character and presence of Grand Cru white Burgundy.

2009 Roussanne Vieilles Vignes, Château de Beaucastel
£399.00 per case of  6 under bond

Made from fruit drawn from a famous three hectare plot of very old Roussanne, this is a treat to taste at any stage of its life. Rich and golden in colour and very viscous, with notes of apricot jam, white musk and new oak on the nose. On the palate, this is thick and mouthcoating with marmalade characters and a distinct saline edge. Marc Perrin says this is amongst the best Vieilles Vignes ever made.

2009 Hermitage Blanc Marquise de la Tourette, Delas Frères
£177.00 per case of 6 under bond

A lovely bright straw hue, with deep golden tinges in the glass.  This wine shows beautiful, rich aromas of apricots, peaches and white flowers, with a soft nutty character from the oak ageing.  The palate is round and sumptuous with a touch of tangerine zest, adding a delightful streak of freshness.  This wine will benefit from further cellaring to show its true potential; a powerful example of Hermitage Blanc at its best.  (Robert Parker: 94-96 points)

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