Thursday, April 19, 2018

Chapoutier Tasting

One of my most memorable tastings of my 2015 tour de France was the tasting at Chapoutier at Tain- l'Hermitage. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to participate in another exciting Chapoutier tasting.

There are a number of key principles of Marcel Chapoutier. The winery is biodynamic since 1997, and is the largest biodynamic winery in France, and I think the world. Chapoutier does not blend varieties. It is always one (owned) vineyard, one grape variety. This is unusual for the Rhone. There are some wines blended from vineyard blocks near to each other.

The photo shows the line-up.

The three whites are all 100% Marsanne. The 2016 Saint-Peray Les Tanneurs is an entry level wine from a terroir not well known. The wine has a pale golden colour and is light-bodied. This is a vibrant wine with apple flavours and minerality, quite well focussed (89 points). The 2015 Saint-Joseph Les Granilites is a big step up. It has a darker colour, more intensity and body. This wine sees 25% oak. This is quite a ripe, yet elegant wine, with  exotic rhubarb flavours dominating. I loved this wine (94 points). The 2015 Hermitage Chante-Alouette certainly has the pedigree (and the yellow wax). It is a concentrated wine with pineapple, pear and marzipan flavours. There are honey and toasty flavours on the long finish. While impressive, I found the wine a bit chewy and heavy (93 points). 

On to the reds. The 2015 Crozes Hermitage Les Meysonniers is a blend from different plots. The wine is matured for 12 months in concrete tanks and sees no oak. It is of course 100% Shiraz and black fruited. There are some meaty and game flavours as well. The finish is a bit chewy and sharp (88 points). The 2014 Saint-Joseph Les Granilites suffered from the wet vintage and is a bit lean. It has a perfumed aroma, quite feminine. This is an elegant wine. The black and blue berries open up on the back palate (93 points). The 2014 Cornas Les Arenes is  different. This is quite a big and rich wine. Dark berry, meaty and smoky flavours deliver complexity on the palate, but in contrast to other years, the mouthfeel is soft (93 points).

We finish with wines from the famous Hermitage hill. The 2011 Monier de la Sizeranne is a blend of different blocks from the hill. They are from the lower parts of the hill. The flavours of this wine are a mixture of red and black fruits. The wine is feminine, very elegant and finishes with soft tannins and good length (95 points). The star of the evening, as expected, was the 2007 Hermitage Le Pavillion. The wine is matured in oak for 18 months, 25% new. The vines are 65 to 85 years old. It was quite a privilege to drink this wine after 10 years, as only 500-900 bottles are made each year. The wine is still quite energetic, with complex flavours of blackberry, boysenberry, olive, meat, and smoky spices. This is an intense wine you can almost cut with a knife (images of Grange come up). The finish is very long (96 points). 

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