Travels in Wine / Rhône

Travels in Wine Rhône: News from the Field


Marcel Orford-Williams Marcel Orford-Williams / 05 February 2019

As well as tasting the wines and finding out about the vintage, no small part of a wine buyer's remit when visiting suppliers is to find out the latest gossip! This isn't about idle tittle-tattle, it's actually an important aspect of the job. It is only by visiting people and talking face to face that you really get to understand the thinking behind the wine, the producers' personal circumstances and more often than not, what the neighbours are up to too.

As always there was plenty of news to catch up on during my visits, mostly this was all for the good, but there were two items of sad news too:

Jérôme Quiot

Jérôme Quiot and his wife Geneviève
Jérôme Quiot and his wife Geneviève

Jérôme died in November 2018 and far too early (he was born in 1951). I used to call him 'President' as he wore so many hats. He was at the helm of his family estate, Domaine du Vieux Lazaret in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with whom we have a long relationship. The Society first bought his wine with the 1979 vintage and it was always a relatively affordable and beautifully uncomplicated red that won him many followers amongst our members. Together with his wife Geneviève Jérôme also managed estates in Gigondas, Ventoux and Provence. He was head of the Rhône interprofessional body and was on the INAO in Paris (l'Institut National de l'Origine et de Qualité). An ancestor had commanded a division at Waterloo and we used to spend time talking about things past. Though immensely busy with so many hats to wear, he always gave me time. One Sunday we walked the length and breadth of Châteauneuf and I learned a good deal from him. He will be sadly missed.

Michel Courtial

Cornas from the Tain Co-op bearing the name of its late general manager
Cornas from the Tain Co-op bearing the name of its late general manager

I only learned of the death of Michel quite recently. My memories of Michel were of him chain smoking, filling his office with the not too attractive smell of French tobacco, something happily you don't find any longer! I knew him as the general manager of the Caves de Tain Co-operative. At the time we used to buy our Society-labelled Crozes-Hermitage from the co-op. I was young and inexperienced, but Michel always put me at ease and answered my daft questions with both patience and consideration. When I was studying winemaking, he even took me on for a day to learn the ropes. I was put on grape reception duty. The harvest was 1993, one of the worst in living memory. Lots of lessons were learned with Michel.

Gentlemen, I thank you both. May you rest in peace.

More gossip & scandal!

The Rhône is a blessed place. People love drinking the wines; Wine Society members especially. I think that part of the appeal is that the wines seem to express values of wholesomeness, closeness to terroir, a world away from industrialisation. So it came as a shock when back in 2018 a scandal came to light casting a dark shadow over the region. There was fraud linked to unscrupulous merchants and bulk-wine bottlers between 2013 and 2016 when a shortage of wine and rising bulk prices resulted in wines being passed off as something they were not; chiefly this concerned a 'massive misuse of the Côtes de Rhône appellation'. But we are not like supermarkets and do not deal with such large players and as a result we are able to deal directly with growers. Authenticity and provenance are vital for us.

Saint-Joseph in the heart of the appellation
Saint-Joseph in the heart of the appellation

Guigal north and south!

The hill of Hermitage; one of the Rhône's most iconic vineyard sites
The hill of Hermitage; one of the Rhône's most iconic vineyard sites

This is an extraordinary family business now in the capable hands of father and son team Marcel and Philippe. Their portfolio is an impressive one with legendary wines such as Côte-Rôtie La Mouline and La Landonne amongst the most famous. To begin with their estate was restricted to Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu, then they bought the estate of Jean-Louis Grippat and that brought them vines in Saint-Joseph and above all, Hermitage.

This year they enhanced their holdings and extended into the southern Rhône buying Château de Nalys in Châteauneuf. This is a large estate which had been badly managed, but make no mistake, Nalys has some of the best plots in the Châteauneuf appellation. Expect quality to go through the roof.

Tasting the 2018s & travels yet to come

Tasting the fruits of 2018 will start not long after this is published and my first job is always the blending of The Society's Côtes du Rhône. This will be in March 2019 during a mid-section of another long road trip that will take in France's south west, Cahors and Bergerac, and then the Alpine wine of Savoie.

Plenty to keep this wine buyer busy and keep you our members in delicious wines for the months and years to come!

In the meantime, do take advantage of all that is available of the excellent 2017s. Our en primeur offer closes at 8pm, Tuesday 19th February, 2019. But wines for earlier drinking are already here to enjoy.

View 2017 Rhônes

View our en primeur offer of 2017 Rhône & Languedoc-Roussillon wines

Where to go next?

Members' Comments (1)

"Thanks Marcel for this. Sad to here of the deaths of two fine growers which you capture in a very personal way."

Mr Timothy M Wright (23-Feb-2019)

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.