Rhone (South) - 2005
One of the great Rhône vintages; the fuller grenache-based wines from the south 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 southern Rhônes have that rare and precious combination of extreme ripeness with cleansing freshness and perfect balance. 2005 is reminiscent of the successful 2001 or 1989 vintages but with one very important difference: the cool summer nights. They may have made a romantic stroll though the streets of Avignon a chilly affair but did wonders for the harvest. Châteauneuf-du-Pape: a brilliant vintage. Dramatic wines with finesse as well as power. Vacqueyras and Gigondas: on a similar high level, provided grapes were picked late enough. Beaumes de Venise: this new appellation for reds has produced excellent value, Gigondas-like wines. Cairanne and Rasteau: outstanding and easily affordable in 2005.