The best-value picks from the Rhône 2020 en primeur

With the latest release of wines from the Rhône Valley from the 2020 vintage, Hugo Fountain provides a personal guide to bagging the best-value options to future-proof your wine racks.

Winemaker Caroline Frey supervising the crush at Jaboulet Aîné
Winemaker Caroline Frey supervising the crush at Jaboulet Aîné

Of all our en primeur campaigns the Rhône is certainly the largest, with the greatest variety in terms of styles and grapes produced and areas covered. The sheer scale of wines on offer can at times make it hard to pick out the wines to buy, this is compounded even more in the great vintages, like 2020.

This vintage is (and apologies for using the well-worn phrase) certainly one of the best for many years, according to our buyer Marcel Orford-Williams. Great wines with wonderful balance were produced in all areas, showcasing the best of what the region can offer. A perfect vintage to stock up on, then.

If the quality of the vintage this year isn’t enough to tempt wine lovers, something that’s becoming increasingly apparent is the great value offered by Rhône wines. Our Fine Wine Manager Shaun Kiernan says that he believes it to be the best-value region in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is the entry point for these kinds of wines very low (starting at under £60 per dozen en primeur), but even as you go up the price-point scale, at every level there are wines that punch well above their weight in terms of the quality:price ratio. True pleasure-filled bargains abound, making the Rhône a particularly good starting place for those new to the idea of buying en primeur and keeping wines for future indulgence.

Here are my top picks from this year’s Rhône offer:

Northern Rhône


Crozes-Hermitage accounts for more than half of the northern Rhône (where the syrah grape predominates) and its wines range from delicious, vibrant quaffing wine on land closer to the valley floor, to more reserved, finer, complex wines from the steep, terraced slopes. The reds are made from syrah and are generally at their best 2-10 years from vintage, but can last longer.

Crozes-Hermitage, Maison Les Alexandrins - £60 six
ref RH61751

A wine made using grapes bought from some of the top growers in the region by Nicolas Jaboulet. Bursting with fruit with some tempering graphite notes, this is a great introduction to the wines of the Crozes.

Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert, Paul Jaboulet Aîné- £99 six
ref RH61881

Another Jaboulet connection but under ‘new’ ownership (the estate was sold in 2005) and produced from the domaine’s own fruit. This is structured and concentrated but lifted by some freshness and displaying delicacy.


Saint-Joseph Le Grand Pompeé, Paul Jaboulet Aîné - £75 six
ref RH61961

Like the rest of the north, the reds are made from syrah. Again, I plump for another entry from Paul Jaboulet. This wine has had a terrific streak of vintages lately, showing real consistency and 2020 is no different. This has great concentration of fruit and represents real value.


Cornas Les Empreintes, Domaine Durand – £117 six
ref RH62061

The climate in Cornas is one of the hottest in the northern Rhône with the vineyards sitting in a natural granitic amphitheatre, this produces very tannic wines when young, but with quality approaching the more esteemed Hermitage. This wine comes from some of the best sites in this small appellation. Brimming with dark fruit, impressive structure and concentration, it’s one that will need ageing, but will be well worth the wait.

Frédéric and Joséphine Arnaud of Château Courac – consistently a member favourite
Frédéric and Joséphine Arnaud of Château Courac – consistently a member favourite

Southern Rhône


Laudun Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Château Courac - £58 doz
ref RH62661

A consistently great wine for the money and one of the best-value picks in any vintage. The estate makes fruit-forward wines perfect for drinking early, but with the depth and character to last close to 10 years from vintage too. This has real depth and is a terrific buy.

Producer to watch: Domaine Sainte-Anne

Marcel was glowing with praise for this domaine, with these wines for him showing some of the best value in the offer and so certainly ones not to miss.

Saint-Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Villages les Mourillons, Domaine Sainte-Anne - £60 six
ref RH62691

100% syrah in a vintage that was so good to the grape, this is bursting with black fruit flavours supported by impressive tannic structure and length of finish that will allow it to age really well.

Saint-Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Villages les Mourillons, Domaine Sainte-Anne - £60 six
ref RH62691

100% syrah in a vintage that was so good to the grape, this is bursting with black fruit flavours supported by impressive tannic structure and length of finish that will allow it to age really well.



Vinsobres Altitude 420, Domaine Jaume - £70 doz
ref RH62751

This wine is always popular with our members; a 60:40 blend of grenache and syrah it is full of bright berry fruit with just the slightest spice from partial barrel ageing.


Rasteau La Ponce, Domaine des Escaravailles - £105 doz
ref RH62851

From hand-harvested old-vines, this Rasteau is full and generous with plenty of ripeness and spice. The wines from this quality and sustainability-conscious domaine are always a delight and worth trying if you haven’t before.


Vacqueyras Les Templiers, Clos des Cazaux - £57 six
ref RH62941

Owned by the Archimbaud-Vache family, one of the oldest in Vacqueyras, with roots dating back to 1791, there is no shortage of history here, with the estate getting its name from the Knights Templar who originally owned it. They practice ‘green-harvesting’, removing 20% of the unripened grapes early in the season to help the quality of the wines and it comes through on this wine.

Harvesting at Clos des Cazeaux
Harvesting at Clos des Cazeaux


The wines here are effectively mountain wines, late harvested due to the cooler temperatures and breezes. They are very full-bodied and generous, but never coarse or overweight and capable of long ageing.

Gigondas Domaine Grand Romane Vieilles Vignes, Pierre Amadieu - £70 six
ref RH63001

Marcel has described this wine as stunning and as such needs little further recommending. The Amadieu estate is the largest in Gigondas with 137ha of vineyard, but with elegance key to their wines the high-altitude is so important. This is powerful, rounded and textured with suppleness thanks to the vineyard elevation.


This large area makes the best wines of the south with reds that tend to be grenache based with syrah mourvèdre and counoise also used. The wines combine immense strength with perfect elegance to create wonderful balance. For Châteauneuf, 2020 is looking to be an absolute top vintage, amongst the best in recent memory.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Font de Michelle £105 – six
ref RH63101

This estate produces wines that are on the more elegant side for the region, through use of mourvèdre in the blend and careful work in the winery to ensure roundness and softness. With spice and figs on palate and good balance, this will last well, until 2033, but possibly beyond.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Les Cèdres, Paul Jaboulet Aîné - £122 six
ref RH63081

The grapes for this blend are bought from some of the finest areas of Châteauneuf. It is elegant and poised, again with mourvèdre contributing to the lift and ensuring balance alongside the ripe, full and succulent grenache.


Browse all the wines in the 2020 Rhône en primeur offer

Read more about buying wine en primeur

Hugo Fountain

The Society's Brand Marketing Coordinator

Hugo Fountain

Hugo joined The Wine Society Member Services team in 2013 and has since completed his WSET Diploma and made a move into marketing. His joint passions are for cooking, whisky and fine wine (though not always at the same time).

Back to top