2022: First Tastes from Rhône Valley Vineyards Show Beginnings of Exceptionalism

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Although the year was marked by heat and excessive drought, the vines were incredibly resistant to the weather conditions on both sides of the Rhône Valley Vineyards. The first tastings of the 2022 wines bode well for a very promising vintage.

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“Qualitatively speaking, this is one of the best vintages of the last five years...2022 is a rich vintage that already shows good aging and cellaring potential,” summarizes Philippe Pellaton, President of Inter Rhône.

Inter Rhône, the organization that represents the Rhône Valley Vineyards AOCs, has announced that the 2022 vintage is proving to be an excellent one, and a source of enthusiasm for Rhône professionals. While the climatic conditions were extremely worrying at times, especially in spring and summer, the final quality of the wines promises to be very satisfactory in all categories. With beautiful grape material to work with from all varieties, both in the North and the South, wines are already showing lovely colors, pleasant aromatics and good balance.

Many regions saw the vines maturing faster than in the 2021 vintage, generally by about twenty days. Winter and spring were particularly mild and very dry, as evidenced by the exceptional rainfall deficits recorded. The abundant sunshine and elevated temperatures over summer gave rise to fears of a potential increase in alcohol levels, but that was tempered by the mid-August and September rains. Despite their variable intensity, they overall had a beneficial effect, allowing the vineyard to recharge its batteries and the grapes to continue their very encouraging curve toward maturity.

“Qualitatively speaking, this is one of the best vintages of the last five years, producing particularly excellent red wines with magnificent color and structure thanks to good maturity levels. Moreover, the overlapping of ripeness between varieties allowed some to start blending right at the stage of fermentation, which led to interesting opportunities for the winemakers. 2022 is a rich vintage that already shows good aging and cellaring potential.” summarizes Philippe Pellaton, President of Inter Rhône.

In the South, a promising vintage, even excellent for the reds

In the southern part of the Rhône Valley Vineyards, the 2022 harvest was spread over several weeks, showing how the confidence of winegrowers has been greatly tested, first by drought during most of the vegetative cycle, then by intense rainfall in certain sectors.

According to Denis Guthmuller, President of the Syndicat des Côtes du Rhône, “It was necessary to identify the optimal maturity levels plot by plot, and, despite an early start, the harvest did not end until early October. The vintage looks promising thanks to the efforts put into the careful selection of the grapes. The winegrowers knew how to make the right choices in order to guarantee excellent quality of their fruit.”

“Reaching maturity took a long time, with sometimes atypical progress, but the vines were healthy with no trace of disease in the vineyards. In Ventoux AOC, maturity came later, certainly due to the influence of the mountain, Mont Ventoux. The last rainfall in September gave the vines the boost they needed to bring the grapes to optimal phenolic maturity.” underlines Samuel Montgermont, Co-President of the AOC Ventoux.

Frédéric Lavau, Co-President of AOC Rasteau testifies: “2022 is a promising vintage in the making. The Syrah fermentations were gentle, as were the tannin extractions carried out at the start of the harvest; the tannins will have to mature and mellow with time and aging. The Cinsault will bring out an explosion of fruit thanks to the fine tannins, especially within the blends that Rhône wines are famous for.”

In Gigondas, where everyone is impatiently waiting for the next vintage when the white wines of the cru can be produced and shared per the legislation passed this year, the 2022 harvest exceeded volume expectations. Louis Barruol, Co-President of the appellation, adds: “When tasting the first wines, we noticed a good tannic structure and a good juice-to-skin ratio which gives deep concentration to the wine. It is a beautiful vintage.”

This vintage seems to shine a special light on the work and knowledge of winegrowers.

Thus, in the Gard: “We must praise the resilience of the men and women of Tavel who once again knew how to adapt. They offered us a vintage of great aromatic quality and beautiful balance, marked by a surprising freshness and showing our Cru’s typical color intensity. The finesse and lush texture of the 2022 vintage are evocative of wonderful gastronomic pairing experiences in the future.” says Thomas Giubbi, Co-President of AOC Tavel.

Etienne Maffre, Co-President of AOC Costières de Nîmes, also recognizes how complex the 2022 vintage has been for winemakers and specifies: "The volumes are within the five-year average and the vintage will be one of quality. For the reds, the beautiful small Syrah berries allow for a good balance in the wines; wines made from Grenache will be lighter. Fruity and low in alcohol, the rosés are very elegant. The whites, harvested before the August rainfall, have a nice fleshy character and charming citrus notes.”

To conclude on the Southern part of the region, Joël Bouscarle, Co-President of AOC Luberon, declares: “Our fears related to the extreme drought were dissipated when we saw the quality of the grapes. Our white wines offer very intense aromas, and the rosés benefit from a favorable acidic structure. With their good balance, the reds will keep well. 2022 is unquestionably a very fine vintage, even an excellent one”.

In the North, beautiful maturity levels: fine tannins for the reds and beautiful aromas for the whites

In the northern part of the Rhône Valley Vineyards, the growth cycle was accelerated but remained moderate, with minimal threat of disease. The quantity and the shape of the bunches foreshadowed a good harvest. However, as in the south, the ultra-dry and hot summer was hard on the vines. The August rains brought a welcome respite and allowed vine metabolism to continue in good conditions as the fruit matured.

For AOC Condrieu, Co-President Pierre-Jean Villa specifies: “2022 is a precocious vintage with a fairly low, but balanced, acidity and the alcohol has remained typical. Floral and fruity, the wines are now completing fermentation and are expected to be lush and accessible.”

“It is a vintage with great balance, with moderately low alcohol levels and surprisingly soft tannins. The white wines are very dense, with a beautiful aromatic complexity and an acidity allowing for aging. 2022 is in line with the great vintages to cellar…”, comments Jacques Desvernois, Co-President of AOC Hermitage.

On the other side of the Rhône river, Joël Durand, Co-President of AOC Saint-Joseph, adds: “The 2022 vintage demonstrates the phenomenal ability of our vines to adapt, in particular Syrah. Good phenolic ripeness indicates delicate tannins that will elevate the reds, while the whites benefit from a beautiful “ripeness/texture/richness” dynamic and are quite heavy. This vintage will be very high quality."

“With surprisingly fine tannins, despite a significant drought, this vintage is extremely promising. The acidity levels are exquisite, and the ripeness has a seemingly perfect balance to it,” says Pierre Louis Clape for AOC Cornas.

Sparkling wines are also doing well this year. Fabien Lombard, President of AOC Clairette de Die and wines of the Diois, stated: "The rainfall in August and September proved really beneficial, especially on Clairette, a major grape variety for our wine production. 2022 will be a fine vintage!”

About Inter Rhône - https://www.vins-rhone.com/en
Inter Rhône is a dynamic, deeply committed professional association representing all members of the Côtes du Rhône and Rhône Valley AOC wine industry. Founded in 1955, it coordinates the marketing and communications, business and technical activities of the following AOCs: Côtes du Rhône (Regional, Villages and Crus), Clairette de Bellegarde, Clairette de Die, Châtillon en Diois, Costières de Nîmes, Côtes du Vivarais, Coteaux de Die, Crémant de Die, Duché d'Uzès, Grignan les Adhémar, Luberon, Ventoux, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise and Rasteau sweet fortified wines, Eaux de Vie de Vin des Côtes du Rhône (or Fine des Côtes du Rhône) and Eaux de Vie de Marc des Côtes du Rhône (or Marc des Côtes du Rhône). Its activity is based on three key principles: fair representation for all professional groupings; parity between producers and négociants; and unanimity for all major decisions. Inter Rhône is both creative and accountable, standing alongside its members, supporting them and helping them in their quest to win greater recognition for Rhône Valley Vineyards wines in France and abroad.

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