2017 An exceptional vintage There was heavy rainfall in October and November 2016 but otherwise winter 2016-2017 was dry. January 2017 was quite cold, but the other months were warmer than average, compared to previous years and with this warmer weather, budbreak was two weeks early. The last 1o days of April and the first two weeks of May were marked by a brutal drop in temperature, with rainy spells and frost. Fortunately, the vineyards of Gigondas and the surrounding areas were only slightly touched. Vegetative growth during these four weeks was minimal. From mid-May onwards temperatures were warmer and there was a good supply of water. The vines grew very quickly and flowering was imminent: it happened during a hot, dry spell and there was widespread couluring, particularly in areas where development was premature. Generally speaking, areas where development was late were less seriously affected. By the end of June, a rainfall deficit of around 35% was registered. Some 20 mm of rain fell on June 28 but it did not rain again until September 14 (only 10 mm) and it was not until November 4 that 40 mm fell. At the end of August, the vineyard cycle was two weeks ahead compared to 2016. This precocity was less pronounced in areas that tend to be later-ripening and/or cooler. Signs of drought could be seen in the vineyards, but the fact that it was a small harvest meant that the vines could withstand the hydric stress. As ever, evaluating exact ripeness levels was challenging: each plot is unique. Numerous vineyard visits, maturity tests and berry tasting were key to getting the very best out of this vintage. Gigondas was probably the least advanced sector in what was a very early harvest. The first tanks were filled on September 10, with fermentation beginning around September 20-25 and the last plots picked around October 10. By this stage, the water deficit was at 55% (only 250 mm, from an average of 580 mm). The fruit was exceptionally healthy, right down to the last grape. Juice yields were very low, and the wines quickly showed signs of having good tannins and aromatic character (one of the benefits of natural concentration). As ever, meticulous management of the vinification process meant that the challenges presented by this particular vintage were neatly dealt with. The fact that this harvest was small meant that there was ample time for the fruit to ripen on the vine and then spend time in vat in the cellar (typically, the wines spend a long time in vat). Daily tasting suggested that approach, and tasting the wines post-blending confirmed this choice. The verdict is unanimous. This is an exceptional vintage with powerful yet subtle wines displaying ripe tannins combined with aromatic freshness: 2017 is the third consecutive outstanding vintage.