Some Rhone producers have been quite clever, producing effectively limited edition wines from good vintages. Beaucastel were amongst the first with their “Homage” cuvee, Guigal have had the “Lala’s” and others have jumped upon this lucrative “top slicing” device.
For me, when a property removes the very best vats from their normal cuvee, it must by definition detract from what might have been. Chave does it with its “cuvee Cathelin,” somewhat astounding as the residual regular Hermitage can still score close to perfection.
I think Caroline Frey has been very clever ditching their “la Petit Chapelle,” their 2nd wine predicated on “less good” barrels and inaugurating “La Maison Bleue,” a Hermitage that is all about position on the hillside, in this case - the East. The difference is the soils are very different at West to the East, but how much fun would it be if I did all the work for you? Some Crozes vineyards have soils quite similar to Eastern Hermitage, so some years when Eastern Hermitage did very well, then the Crozes just might have similar characteristics!?! N’est pas! lol!
Cornas has changed within the last decade from a wine that was virtually undrinkable for top cuvees in their youth to today being approachable much earlier. Prices have risen, and at the very top end are starting to rival Hermitage.
And just to go totally “off piste,” 2017 is a smaller, but good quality vintage. Have a guess which way prices are going to go? I think that we will all suffer disappointments with our requests this coming EP season and when allowed, the prices will be much higher. But that’s the vagaries of vintages, mother nature has dealt the cards, it is up to us to play them to the best of our abilities. The one thing to remember is that we had 07,09,10,12,15 &16, all terrific years. One could make a case that if your cellar if fairly full, you can afford to be mega-picky with 17, given like busses, more great vintages might be just around the corner!?!