International Wine Report: 92 points for Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘La Bernardine’ 2012

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘La Bernardine’ 2012

92 points

The 2012 ‘La Bernardine’ Blanc is a fantastic showing, composed of 100% Grenache Blanc, it opens up with pretty aromas of honeysuckle, pear, sliced green apple, apricot, tropical fruit, almond and a fresh mineral character. It possesses a lovely creamy texture and balanced by a nice touch of acidity which resonates through the finish. This is showing well now with some air, but it would be best to allow this some additional bottle age. (Best 2015-2025)

Jeb Dunnuck on Le Clos: “with wines like this, Saint Joseph is going to be the next hot commodity”

michel chapoutier best wine

Above: Michel Chapoutier in Saint Joseph, an appellation that Jeb Dunnuck believes will be “the next hot commodity.”

“Chapoutier’s newest Saint Joseph, the Saint Joseph Les Clos,” writes Jeb Dunnuck in the August 2014 issue of Wine Advocate, “comes from a southeasterly facing vineyard, located high up on the slope, and only one kilometer from the Les Granits, that was replanted in 1990. While it was widely recognized for quality wine in the past, the vineyard wasn’t replanted after it was wiped out due to phylloxera. It too is all decomposed granite, yet has a different exposure than the Les Granits, and the wines show additional purity, minerality and structure. The first release was in 2011, and the quality here is shocking; these new releases have more than a passing resemblance to a top Hermitage coming from the Les Bessards lieu-dit. Hold onto your hats and jump on board, because with wines like this, Saint Joseph is going to be the next hot commodity!”

2013 Chapoutier St Joseph le Clos

The 2013 Saint Joseph Les Clos has an inky purple color to go with a tight, structured and mineral-drenched profile. Cassis, black raspberry and ample crushed rock are just some of the nuances here, and it has a brilliant mid-palate as well as juicy acidity. Showing thrilling granite character (the soils here are basically identical to the decomposed granite soils found in the Les Bessards lieu-dit in Hermitage), it should need a few years to shine, but evolve gracefully for two decades.

2012 Chapoutier St Joseph le Clos
97 points

Tasted out of bottle and shockingly good, the 2012 Saint Joseph Les Clos knocks it out of the park with ripe creme de cassis, licorice, violets, liquid rock and wild herb-styled aromas and flavors. Bottled two months prior to this tasting, this full-bodied, rich and concentrated effort is probably the wine of the vintage from this appellation.

2011 Chapoutier St Joseph le Clos
97 points

Similarly styled and getting an “awesome wine” in the notes, the 2011 Saint Joseph Les Clos shows that this vineyard is for real. Creme de cassis, licorice, crushed rock, graphite and pepper all show in the glass, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness and depth, crazy purity and blockbuster length. It too is possibly the wine of the vintage and certainly, one of the finest Saint Josephs I’ve ever tasted.

Saint Joseph Granits retrospective: “an awesome value” writes Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck

Click here for Jeb Dunnuck complete “Chapoutier Retrospectives” (subscription required).

Les Granits - Saint Joseph

Above: One of the parcels in Saint Joseph where Michel Chapoutier grows fruit for his celebrated Les Granits.

“Chapoutier’s Les Granits releases, both in red and white, lead the way in terms of quality in the appellation,” writes Jeb Dunnuck in the August 2014 issue of Wine Advocate. “Looking at the Saint Joseph red that’s the focus here, this roughly 500-case release (it can get close to 1,000 cases in some vintage) comes from the lieux-dits Saint Joseph and Les Chames, both of which are located around the towns of Mauve and Tournon, and have superb, southerly exposure. The lieu-dit Saint Joseph is the vineyard that the appellation is named after, and it’s a gorgeous, steep, south-facing vineyard planted on pure decomposed granite soils. The wine is 100% Syrah, from 60-to-70-year old vines, and sees a similar elevage to all of Chapoutier’s Syrahs, with the grapes completely destemmed and aging occurring in a scant 20-25% new French oak barrels. As I hope these notes show, it ages beautifully, but also dishes out loads of pleasure in its youth as well. It just so happens to also represent an awesome value.”

Please note that a Wine Advocate subscription is required to read the complete reviews.

2013 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
(91-94 points)

Flower and crushed rock-driven bouquet. Medium to full-bodied, lively and fresh, it should be approachable early in life.

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2012 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
94 points

A beauty… elegant, seamless Syrah that gives up plenty of exotic black and blue fruit, flowers, liquid minerality and olive characteristics in its medium to full-bodied, supple, and nicely concentrated profile.

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2011 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
94 points

More sexy and flamboyant… with loads of kirsch, blackberry, rose petal, spring flowers and hints of meatiness giving way to a full-bodied, sweetly fruited Saint Joseph.

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2010 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
95+ points

Full-bodied, concentrated and layered Syrah that has gorgeous concentration, racy acidity and a big finish. Showing beautiful, granite-like minerality.

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2009 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
94 points

Ripe, beautifully concentrated, up-front, layered and downright sexy, I’d enjoy it over the coming decade, but it will evolve for longer.

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2008 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
91 points

Medium-bodied, elegant and supple, with solid ripeness and textured, it possesses impressive pepper, underbrush, rose petal and superb minerality in its lively, elegant and seamless style.

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2007 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
94 points

Ripe and voluptuously-styled, with black raspberry, charcoal, roasted herbs, graphite and toast giving way to a medium to full-bodied, impressively concentrated Syrah that’s still young and lively.

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2006 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
96 points

Awesome depth and concentration to go with classic Northern Rhone meatiness, minerality, dried spices and dark fruit on the nose. Filling the mouth with fruit, it’s perfectly balanced, has sweet tannin and a finish that won’t quit.

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2003 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
93 points

Ample blackberry fruit, saddle leather, wild herbs, caramelized beef and toasted spice aromas and flavors, full-bodied richness and a big finish. It’s in a good spot right now.

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1998 Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits
92 points

A perfumed, classy effort that’s drinking perfectly today. Giving up classic cured meats, dried flowers, underbrush and sweet Syrah fruit, it’s medium-bodied, layered and still nicely focused on the palate, with a core of sweet fruit that keeps you coming back to the glass.

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Greffieux, northern Rhône’s rising star: a vertical retrospective by Jeb Dunnuck for Wine Advocate

greffieux map

Image via the M. Chapoutier site.

Michel Chapoutier’s vineyard-designated (sélection parcellaire) Greffieux is quickly rising in prominence as one of the greatest expression of the northern Rhône. It lies toward the bottom of the storied Hermitage vineyards, just beneath Méal. In another era, it was used in classically blended Hermitage. But today, Michel’s pioneering work in biodynamics and his desire to bottle Greffieux as a single-vineyard wine has shown its enormous potential to produce some of the world’s greatest Syrah.

“Greffieux’s soil contains some granite,” writes Rhône authority John Livingstone-Learmonth in The Wines of the Northern Rhône (University of California Press, 2005), but here there is more clay and also fine elements than higher up the hill… Greffieux is also stony, the alluvion stones on it being glacier residues… There is limestone in Greffieux, and the wine is refined by nature, and higher in acidity than many… The tannins never demand a long wait, and the wine opens and delivers earlier… [It] produces a wine that is firmer and more soundly structured.”

“Michel Chapoutier,” writes Jeb Dunnuck in the August 2014 issue of Wine Advocate, “continues to knock it out of the park with his tiny, single plot ‘Selections Parcellaires’ releases from throughout the Rhône Valley… There’s normally 300 cases or so of the Ermitage Les Greffieux, which comes from a lieu-dit that’s located at the bottom of the Meal, butting right up against the outskirts of Tain Hermitage. The soils here are varied, with alluvial and sediment soils giving way to deep rolled pebbles (a la Châteauneuf du Pape) as you move further up the slope. While this plot has been more widely recognized as white-wine territory, Michel makes one serious red Hermitage from it. It’s also noteworthy that this plot could be considered a clos, as it’s completely surrounded by a stone wall. As with Michel’s other Syrah, he’s moving away from huge amounts of new oak, and this cuvée is completely destemmed (this is the norm for Hermitage) and is aged in 20-25% new French oak today.”

The following are highlights and scores from Dunnuck’s vertical retrospective stretching back to 2001 (please note that you must be a Wine Advocate subscriber to click through to the complete reviews).

2013 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
(92-95) points

This medium to full-bodied, layered, effort has good concentration, integrated acidity and plenty of length.

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2012 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
96 points

I was blown away by this wine.

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2011 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
94 points

Hard to resist now, it will evolve gracefully through 2026.

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2010 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
98 points

The purity here is off-the-charts… incredible Syrah.

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2009 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
95 points

Voluptuous, decadent and seriously fruited Hermitage that has full-bodied richness and power, layers of sweet fruit and awesome concentration.

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2008 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
91 points

Elegant, seamless and silky.

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2007 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
93 points

Sexy and delicious effort that offers serious charm.

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2006 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
100 points

This incredible effort possesses a singular, unique profile, and is off-the-charts. Don’t miss it!

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2001 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
92 points

Medium to full-bodied on the palate, with a beautiful texture, sweet fruit and fine tannin.

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James Molesworth: 91 points for Crozes-Hermitage White Petite Ruche 2012

From the October 2014 issue of Wine Spectator:

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage White Petite Ruche 2012
91 points

A fresh style, with pineapple, apple, peach and melon flavors bouncing along, backed by a light bitter almond thread that holds the finish. Fresh acidity should help this stretch out with brief cellaring. Drink now through 2015. 2,000 cases made.

—James Molesworth

Nick Passmore: “La Bernardine is glowing with red-fruit vibrancy, 5 stars”

M. Chapoutier 2003 La Bernardine
5 stars

—Nick Passmore

“Despite its age,” writes top wine writer Nick Passmore for Forbes this week, “this La Bernardine is glowing with red-fruit vibrancy; raspberry, strawberry and red cherry exuberance. Yet the dozen years in the bottle have backed these up with a mellow smokiness, and just enough oak to provide roundness without smothering all that glorious fruit.”

“As the vintage indicates, this is un vin de garde, a wine that rewards, or has rewarded in this case, aging. You can drink the current vintages now, but it would be a crime, so by all means buy the newer releases, but put them away, and spend your time hunting out mature beauties like this.”

Passmore gives the wine five stars, his highest rating.

Click here for the complete review.

Bill St. John recommends 2011 Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche

Here’s what leading wine writer Bill St. John had to say about the 2011 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche in last week’s Chicago Tribune:

2011 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage “La Petite Ruche,” Rhone, France: All syrah, on the accessible side; mildly tannic, effusively fruity, round and rich; black cherry with grace notes of anise and earth.

petite ruche 2011


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