The Rhone is one of the regions I have come to really like later in my wine career. I’ll be honest and say that I find tasting the wines difficult at times, Syrah and Grenache being very different, far more so that Cabernet and Merlot in my opinion. The same can be said of the difference between Viognier and the other main white grapes, Marsanne and Roussanne. Drinking rather than tasting however is a different issue, much fun to be had.
One of the Wine Press was in to taste the full range of Tardieu-Laurent 2012’s last week and afterwards I took the opportunity to go through the range. Most aren’t yet bottled so these were cask samples with a tiny bit of So2.

The Whites
Saint Peray VV – Some pear fruit but also a lovely minerality, really good stuff – 17-18.
Condrieu – A little blowsy (I’m not Condrieu fan sadly), lots of expression, open and quite full – 16
Hermitage Blanc – Eaux de Vie and a little spritz, decent, less oak that some years, an almost Islay Whisky like saltiness, feminine for Hermitage Blanc, not convinced this is the true showing – 16-18
Cotes du Rhone Les Becs Fins – Great value, elegant, fresh, flowers but not OTT, impressive – 17
Cotes du Rhone Guy Louis – Clean and clear, lovely fruit, poised, quite serious, good! – 17+
CNDP Blanc VV – Beautiful nose, fruit and savoury complexity with focus, really lovely, the pick of the whites for me – 18++
The top two whites for me!
The Reds

Cotes du Rhone Les Becs Fins Rouge – Clean red fruit, a little candied, nice richness, lifted 16-17
Cotes du Rhone Guy Louis Rouge – Whiff of oak that will integrate, good texture, a little spice and cream a little “tarty” now but could be a star when it all knits together – 16 (++?)
Rasteau VV – More heady, mulled fruit, nice balance, a little white pepper, berry fruit, a little drier – 17
Vacqueyras VV – Kirsh, heady but not OTT, juicy fruit, like dry port but then quite refined, confusing but potentially very fine – 16-18
Gigondas VV – A little more savoury than the Vacqueyras but also clasily refined – 17 (+)
CNDP VV – A little more overt than the CS that follows, the new oak makes a difference but should knit in well – 17
CNDP Cuvee Speciale – Mulled fruit, not bruised, has compote complexity, very fine with a long and elegant finish, impressive – 18-19
Crozes-Hermitage VV – Pencil lead refinement, not my stye of fruit but impressive, precise. 17
Saint-Joseph Les Roches VV – Heady with crimson and ink to the eye, loved this, more forward and fruited than the C-H, nice finish too – 17.5
Cornas Coteaux – Bacon and berries! Not too savoury on the palate a little dry but this is Cornas – 17
Cote-Rotie – Meaty and a little sweaty, as it should be, root beer (i.e. mellow “deep heat”) and rugby changing rooms, more elegant on the palate than I expected – 17.5
Hermitage – Muted nose, “grown-up” texture, real substance, otherwise hard to assess 17-18.

Really interesting tasting, my feeling is most of the white will drink really well straight “out the box”. The reds will certainly re-pay 2-4 years in the cellar.

The top three reds, all very promising.