Drinking Well Episode 3: The Rhône


Photography: Jason Lowe

Drinking Well is the podcast designed to help you enjoy and shape your wine collection. In our first series, you’ll hear from our expert Buyers and Account Managers as they discuss which vintages to withdraw from your cellar this year. We also explore the most exciting developments in key fine wine regions, as well as revealing our team’s favourite wines and producers.

In this conversation, we sit down with Buyer Catriona Felstead MW and Account Manager Gary Owen to explore the Rhône Valley. Discover why they love this region; learn which bottles we should be uncorking this year and hear their tips for buying and collecting. Read further for a taste of what was discussed in the episode:

Which Rhône producers excite you at the moment? 

Catriona There are quite a few. From the North, I love Domaine Yves Gangloff – I think his wines are absolutely sensational. I also find that Domaine René Rostaing make absolutely gorgeous wines. You get a fine, fresh, uplifting energy from them – something that really appeals to me in Northern Rhône Syrah. 

On a different stylistic note, I’m very excited about the wines of Domaine Emmanuel Darnaud. He creates a richer, broader expression, but retains so much concentration – it’s quite astonishing. 

Gary One favourite of mine is Franck Balthazar – his ’18 Côtes du Rhône was my house wine over the winter. I think the quality of the liquid in the bottle is so far beyond what anyone would expect from a Côtes du Rhône. I’ve also been a big fan of Domaine de Marcoux since I tasted their ’11. So much from Châteauneuf-du-Pape prioritises richness and weight, so getting down to terroir and purity of fruit can be quite tricky. However, their Châteauneuf cuvée is just delicious. 

What Rhône vintages should collectors be on the look-out for? 

Catriona I’m going to say ’20. I genuinely think this will end up being one of the vintages to get hold of – it was a stunning year for the region. 

The thing with the Rhône is that there’s not exactly been a “bad” vintage in the past seven years. But, for me, one of the great years for the region was ’16, especially for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The duo of ’09 and ’10 are both reliably great vintages, too. 

Gary If you want to go a bit further back, I’d say that when you see a ’98 or ’99 from the top estates, grab them now. They’ll be fully mature and delicious. I also think that ’05 and ’06 have been a bit overlooked due to what an arrival ’07 was. So, if you see either of those vintages, they’re well worth considering, particularly ’06 Châteauneuf.  

I also recently enjoyed an ’11 as well. They’re a little bit tannic, but great with food – the elegance that emerges with as little as five years in the cellar is fantastic. 

For more tips and insights from Catriona and Gary, you can listen to the complete episode of Drinking Well here.