Doesn’t time fly? It seems only yesterday I was reporting on the 2010s – which I did twice, first here and then here, at Michel C’s insistence since he thought I was too hard on his wines the first time around! When I retasted his 2010s, Michel Chapoutier told me, ‘there were two different vintages in 2011: those who picked early and those who waited, like us. The total quantity was huge, up 25%, but people who waited saw their grapes drying and losing weight.’
I haven’t tasted nearly enough to pontificate about the 2011 vintage in the Rhône Valley in general myself, and won’t until my visits there at the end of the year, but Chapoutier has made a pretty impressive set of 2011s in the northern appellations. As usual, the white St Joseph Granits is extraordinarily good for the money, and the red not far behind.
But what’s equally impressive about this lot of wines is how good those made in other regions are. The Bila Haut wines from Roussillon seem to get more and more finesse as well as muscle – especially the one from the village of Lesquierde. The Australian, from high country in Victoria, is really smart – and I absolutely loved the Alsace Riesling. I hope the latter is available to buy before long because it certainly doesn’t need barrel age the way some of these reds and fuller whites do.
I just hope that they all taste as good as this when they are finally bottled?
M Chapoutier, Les Granits 2011 St-Joseph 17 Drink 2013-2016
Pale honey colour. Honeysuckle nose. Pretty low acid makes it taste a little sweet but gloriously beguiling. Not that intense but very flattering with just a hint of bitter quinine quality on the end. Fun.
M Chapoutier, Ermitage Le Méal 2011 Hermitage 17.5 Drink 2016-2022
Smoky, reductive nose. With the breadth of a white Rhône as well. Very perfumed and seductive with just a bit of chew on the end. Doesn’t seem super concentrated. More friendly and accommodating. Blossomy. This will proabably have an early and late drinking window. I’m suggesting the earlier one here.
M Chapoutier, Ermitage de l’Orée 2011 Hermitage 17.5 Drink 2016-2025
Very lively and quite tight and natural and ‘bio’. Lots of wild life going on in there, though it is still quite casual in structure rather than tense. Very friendly and golden. Full bodied and broad with strong floral notes. Just a little chewy on the end but all pleasure really. My dates apply to the first drinking window.
M Chapoutier, Ermitage L’Ermite 2011 Hermitage 18.5 Drink 2017-2029
Deep honeyed gold colour. Restrained and a bit introvert but more minerally than its Ermitage stablemates. Some dried apricots and real tension plus great texture and persistence. A real notch above the other Ermitage 2011s from this address. A skein of green vegetation too. Some real chew and interest and potential rather than just being friendly. Drinking dates apply to the first likely phase.
M Chapoutier, Les Varonniers 2011 Crozes-Hermitage 17 Drink 2019-2030
Dark crimson. Liquorice and leather and chew. Marked acidity. Very lively. Mulberry. Tannins. Quite polished.
M Chapoutier, Les Granits 2011 St-Joseph 16.5 Drink 2017-2026
Cask sample was a little reduced. Bone dry and firm but not that concentrated. Easy and friendly.
M Chapoutier, Le Clos 2011 St-Joseph 17 Drink 2014-2022
Admirably fresh nose with fully ripe fruit and a strong mineral streak. Polished. Long and satsifying with good line.
M Chapoutier, La Mordorée 2011 Côte Rôtie 17.5 Drink 2018-2028
Much deeper than most wines from this appellation – apart from Guigal’s. Not very expressive aromatically. Juicy and with grainy tannins and some real savour. Somewhere halfway between Guigal and Jamet!
M Chapoutier, Ermitage Les Greffieux 2011 Hermitage 17.5 Drink 2018-2030
Very dark crimson. Though not that deep at the rim. Sweet, rich with a hint of bitter chocolate – not what I expect from Hermitage! Very ripe indeed. Really opulent. Rather disconcerting. The richness of the fruit almost totally obscures the tannin. A very strong statement. You could almost drink it now!
M Chapoutier, Ermitage Le Méal 2011 Hermitage 18.5 Drink 2018-2032
Mid to dark crimson. Sappy and appetising on the nose. Lovely fine tannins and texture with good acidity and a mineral streak. Real structure and pzazz. Dry finish that is recognisably Hermitage. Very juicy though. So persistent.
M Chapoutier, Ermitage L’Ermite 2011 Hermitage 18 Drink 2020-2035
Dark crimson. Very fruity nose. Big and bold and brawny. Glossy. Lots of ripeness followed by structure and tannins. Very youthful. Hint of liquorice. Some life and very substantial but not aggressively chewy. A bit flashier than the average Hermitage.
M Chapoutier, Ermitage Le Pavillon 2011 Hermitage 18.5 Drink 2022-2038
Dark, shiny crimson. Very meaty, savoury and the most obviously stereotypically Hermitage. Polished tannins but they are there in abundance. Very notable acidity and bone dry fruit. Wait ages before opening this. Lots of fresh, characterful fruit. Very serious indeed – for enormous eventual pleasure.
M Chapoutier, Croix de Bois 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 16 Drink 2017-2024
Glistening with ripeness and alcohol. Easy peasy but far from the most distinguished or inividualistic of Chapoutier’s wines. Very angular and chewy on the end.
M Chapoutier, Barbe Rac 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 17.5 Drink 2019-2030
Mid ruby. Actually paler than the Croix du Bois. Sweet and opulent and hedonistic. Quite soft. Very much wants to be liked! Fine tannins. Very forward with lots of spice.