Rhöne Vintage Report by Jaboulet: The 1999 vintage will undoubtedly figure amongst the finest wines of the last two decades.
After flowering a week earlier than in 1998, and under very favourable conditions, the vines suffered climatic conditions during the summer period which necessitated a fight against oïdium.
July was marked by a dry period during the first and last ten days of the month. The only significant rainfall was during the night of the 5th-6th. Temperatures were higher than average for the time of year, with maximum temperatures around 34 à 35°.
The wind was predominantly northerly during this period.
August was stormy during the second fortnight, then a dry period set in, punctuated by several storms of little consequence. The higher-than-normal temperatures of early August dropped under the influence of the Mistral (northerly wind).
September had very high temperatures (32°c) from the 10th to the 15th and went out with a heavy storm on the 25th. The health and quality of the grapes were such that the storm of the 25th had no impact on the quality of the harvest. This began on the 14th September with the Crozes 'Mule Blanche', followed by the whites of the 'Domaine Roure', and finished with the Hermitage 'Chevalier de Stérimberg'. The harvesters, stooped over branches weighed down with golden grapes, had perfect climatic conditions.
Once the harvest of the white grapes was completed, we continued with the red. This year, to go further in the elimination of all traces of water, we tried drying the vegetation by helicopter, as is done in Burgundy or in the Sauternes region. The trial was very conclusive in as far as the number of degrees obtained in the vat. The generous harvest (though curbed a little by early season work on the vines) gives us a foretaste of the very good quality of our wines, with a rich, full body present in force in our whites. The red wines, like the whites, have been conferred a good acid-alcohol balance and the very first tastings from the vats have given a foresight of red wines with an intensity of colour perhaps never before seen.
I feel that the 1999 vintage, both red and white, has rewarded the producer for all his labours throughout the year.
The 1999 vintage is characterised by a paradox : exceptional quantity and quality!!! In spite of all the work carried out in the vineyards (heavy pruning, 'green' harvesting, thinning), even on the old vines up on the higher slopes, the 1999 production was very high. This has given the wines a great richness of complexity and density. The white wines were difficult to press and the yield of juice was quite low. They enjoy a nice acidity and they are 'fatty' in the mouth. The red wines underwent a very long maceration and are thus well-coloured, substantial wines. The well-dispersed, but strong tannins endow the wine with a great potential for keeping.
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