As the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy compete for the title of most in-demand fine wines in the world, with ever-increasing prices the result of this rivalry, there is still a classic region in France where one can find outstanding value for money at every rung of the quality ladder– the Rhône Valley.
15 out of the last 17 vintages have been good to exceptional, so the pressure on availability is nothing like what can be found in Burgundy for example, which means prices have been remarkably stable over the years.
The vineyards around Vienne and Tain l’Hermitage are home to some of the finest syrah in the world, which for me is arguably the greatest red grape in the World. Perfumed, structured, it can be intense and rich or delicate and subtle, doesn’t need a blending partner to really shine and delivers delicious wines even at lower price points.
Meanwhile travel South to the area around Châteauneuf-du-Pape and blends of grenache (rich and juicy), Mourvèdre (structured and dark), Syrah and up to another 10 varieties produce wines of superb power, balance and complexity.
White Rhônes are also very much worthy of interest – generally little-known, they are often superb and bring a different style of wine to the ubiquitous crisp sauvignons or buttery chardonnays. Frequently white flower and stone fruit-scented, medium-bodied and for the best endowed with superb mineral complexity, the viogniers, marsanne, roussanne and clairette up and down the region deserve a space in your wine rack.
We are lucky to have been able to pick a selection of amazing wines from 3 exceptional vintages in a row – 2015, 2016 and 2017 are a historical trilogy of amazing years for the region as a whole, and you will not go far wrong by "filling your boots" with Rhône wines from these three years, whether you choose a little-known and bargainous 2016 Laudun, or a Grand historical name to drink in 20 years’ time, like a Hermitage.
Ludovic Surina, Fine Wine Desk