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Overview

An Opening Offer of 2011 Rhône & Languedoc Roussillon

Chapoutier landscape
Chapoutier landscape
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2011 is the third great Rhône vintage in a row with its own style and character. The wines are generously flavoured, ripe tasting with exceptionally smooth tannins. Cool summer temperatures also played their part as they did in 2010: the wines have sap and, as many growers put it, 'belle fraîcheur'. In the north and south, not forgetting the Languedoc-Roussillon, there is plenty to choose from and at all price levels.

Freakish climate

No one can remember another year like 2011 which both started and ended with a heatwave but with a cold and a wet July in the middle. What looked like an early vintage, earlier even than 2003, ended up quite differently; earlier for sure than 2010 but later than most recent vintages. The extra time on the vine has given the wines wonderful concentration and depth of flavour.

The very early spring (with summer-like temperatures in March) helped ensure both an early and abundant flowering. Wise heads were quick to realise that green harvesting would be essential this year.

The harvest

Tee shirt and shorts were de rigeur for the harvest, which took place under perfect hot and dry conditions with the Mistral wind blowing. Patience was still needed as true ripeness, meaning ripeness of all the tannins, was slow to come. Harvesting some varieties, notably grenache, had its own problems as not all berries on a bunch were equally ripe so hours of extra work were needed to remove unripe, often pink-coloured berries from each bunch.

Northern Rhône

The syrah grape made beautifully balanced wines in 2011. They are sensuous with a lovely core of ripe fruit. The tannins are present but are soft and well rounded. The wines have the sleekness and purity of 2006 maybe, and the roundness of 2000. Hermitage has real depth and majesty, Cornas too. Côte-Rôtie and Crozes are more variable but many top growers made remarkable wines. Saint-Joseph: uniformly gorgeous especially at the southern end.

Southern Rhône

What a vintage! Sometimes surpassing 2010 with wines that have more warmth and more of the soft, sweet and spicy flavours that we crave. The northern band of villages, that includes Vinsobres, Valréas and Uchaux, is outstanding and the wines perfectly balanced, and the same is true for the west-bank villages like Lirac and Laudun. For Richard Maby, 2011 is his top vintage and he was able to make much more of his excellent 'Nessun Dorma' cuvée.

For the central belt of villages that include everything from Cairanne to Gigondas, 2011 is a fine, sometimes brilliant, vintage of very full-bodied wines. It is here that the grenache needed time on the vine to ripen fully. For Gigondas, a region that harvests so much later than the others, 2011 is a very good vintage indeed.

This offer will close at 9pm, Tuesday 12th February, 2013. For information regarding this offer after this date, please contact The Society on 01438 740222.

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