Rhone (North) - 2005
One of the great Rhône vintages; the syrahs from the north are exceptional.
The secret of the vintage’s success was the drought which concentrated the flavour of the grapes allowing a long, gentle ripening, without excessive heat, keeping the fruit fresh. The build up to the harvest, however, began with a warm and wet April. May was dry with rising temperatures, so flowering was perfect and up to two weeks early. June and July were very hot and dry. August was not good for tourists, with temperatures in the low 20s with cool nights, but, for the grapes, these conditions were perfect as they encouraged slow but steady ripening. There was even a little rain at just the right time to relieve the pressure. By the end of August, temperatures began to climb and September was generally glorious. The customary storm on the 6th and 7th September was followed by end-on-end blue skies.
2005 is an outstanding vintage for the northern Rhône and overall the best since 1990, although quite different in style. The crop was reduced because the grapes were small, thick skinned with little juice. The 2005s, impressive to look at, fragrant with great depth of flavour and a structure based on very ripe tannins, are destined for long-term keeping.
Côte-Rôtie: a fantastic vintage. Lovely seductive wines for drinking between six and 20 years.
Cornas: 2005 has produced some stunning wines of tremendous depth and concentration. The best will last at least 20 years and more. 2005 was an outstanding year for Saint-Josephs grown on steep terraces hewn out of the rock; drink from five to 15 years. Crozes-Hermitage: Generally softer, rounder, less demanding wines that offer delicious dark fruit flavours. One or two, like Jaboulet’s Thalabert and the Cuvée Gaby from Colombier, are more serious.
Hermitage: A fabulous vintage. The wines are powerful, multi-dimensional and distinguished.