Rhone Valley 2016 Vintage Forecast
The 2016 vintage in Southern Rhone is quite straightforward. Most growers have anticipated this year to be better than the 2015 vintage. Drought and coulure condition on Grenache grapes probably means a comparatively lower yield, but it shall not affect the quality of the grapes. The growing season starts without overly humid, which also means less favorable conditions for disease and fungus to grow. Summer has been warm and dry and arrived early, this gives the grapes a longer time and opportunity to ripe. To offset the overheating effect of the day was generally much cooler temperature at night, and this higher diurnal temperature range gives the grapes the ability to produce more flavor molecules and to better preserve the acidity. Some even believe that the 2016 vintage in the South part of Rhone is comparable to the legendary 2010 vintage. Wines in Southern Rhone for 2016 have been highly anticipated by producers throughout the region. While the South has an ideal growing season, it is much trickier in the North. The main reason being that there was hail in April and it significantly lower the yield. It is fortunate that the hail has happened early enough to only hurting the buds but giving the vines opportunity to recover their leaves. This also pushes back the growing cycle of the vine comparing to normal growing pattern, which means the harvest time could end up much later than most growers want it to be.
The start of the growing season has also been more humid than needed which raises risk of diseases. But by the end of July, the weather has turned a lot drier and with far less rainfall than the vines need. This could create some challenges for the growers since only very limited irrigation is allowed by regulation. What saves the day is that rain has started falling in September giving the vines enough water to ripe, and also summer has prolonged well into October making it possible for a successful late harvest. A highly challenging weather condition in the start of the growing season has been made up by the perfect condition around the fall. So it seems like the 2016 vintage of the North will result in a higher price but with a good quality to compensate for what wine lovers will be paying for.