We are tremendously pleased to share some excellent new M. Chapoutier scores just in from Dec. 31, 2012 edition of The Wine Advocate, including SIX 100-point scores, 22 90+ scores and great praise for Michel Chapoutier from Robert Parker himself:
“In November of this year, Michel Chapoutier finally made the cover of Wine Spectator. The accompanying article said essentially the same things I had written about over twenty years ago. More importantly, I am thrilled that Chapoutier received this attention because it has long been deserved. History will record that Michel Chapoutier is a revolutionary… What he has accomplished over the last two decades or more is one of the great wine stories of the modern era… Michel Chapoutier has proven through his genius, the faith of his convictions and backbreaking attention to detail in his vineyards and in the winery that a once moribund negociant (yet with significant vineyard holdings) could become a beacon of inspiration and quality for the entire world. In short, every wine consumer in the world should admire his accomplishments.” —ROBERT PARKER
100 POINTS Ermitage Cuvée de l’Orée 2011
The 2011 Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree comes from a lieu-dit known as Les Murets planted with 80- to 90-year-old Marsanne vines. The bouquet offers up scents of Asian spices, lychee nuts, white currant liqueur and peach and apricot marmalade. This stunning, honeyed, flamboyant white is perfection in a glass. Drink it over the next half century.
100 POINTS Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree 2010
There are 716 cases of the 2010 Ermitage de l’Oree. I have been following this cuvee since its debut vintage and this 100% Marsanne possesses more richness than most Burgundy Montrachets. Although aged in 100% new, 500-liter demi-muids, the wine reveals no evidence of oak. Honeysuckle, caramelized citrus, white peach, quince and white currant characteristics are viscous and full-bodied, yet the wine possesses striking precision and laser-like focus. This monumental effort is the most opulent and richest of all Chapoutier’s dry whites in 2010.
100 POINTS Ermitage le Pavillon 2010
Tasting like the concentrated blood from an aged and grilled strip steak, the 2010 Ermitage Le Pavillon boasts a black/purple color along with creme de cassis, camphor, pen ink, white flower and lead pencil shaving characteristics in its massive, full-bodied personality. It almost defies description because of its ethereal concentration and off-the-charts extract levels. This is not for the faint of heart, or those who lack patience, as it will require 10-15 years of bottle age, and, as previously stated, will keep for 50 or more. There are just over 1,000 cases of the 2010 Le Pavillon, another perfect wine in the constellation of profound wines produced by Michel Chapoutier.
100 POINTS Ermitage l’Ermite 2010
The 2010 Ermitage l’Ermite (454 cases produced) is another perfect wine. Completely different than Le Pavillon, l’Ermite is always slightly more austere. It comes from a 7.5-acre parcel of sandy, granitic soils at the top of the Hill of Hermitage that produces both red and white compelling Hermitages, somewhat unusual in this tiny appellation. The black/purple-colored 2010 l’Ermite exhibits a tight, more mineral-dominated set of aromatics offering up hints of blue and black fruits, charcoal, steak tartare and an unmistakable floral note. This full-bodied, more austere and tannic effort reveals extraordinary weight, palate penetration and purity. It represents the concentrated essence of a specific site as well as the Syrah grape planted in this magical appellation. Forgot it for 10-15 years, possibly two decades, and drink it over the following 50-75 years.
100 POINTS Ermitage l’Ermite Blanc 2010
The 2010 Ermitage l’Ermite Blanc, which comes from pure granite soils, is a perfect wine. This awesome white, made from pre-phylloxera vines that are not grafted onto American root stocks, offers notes of acacia flowers, orange and nectarine oils, a liquid rock-like component and a full-bodied, multidimensional and multilayered finish. As the great French wine critic Michel Bettane said about l’Ermite in many different vintages, it is “greater than the greatest Montrachet.” This is a 50- to 75-year white wine.
100 POINTS Hermitage Vin de Paille 2010
Because of a change in French laws, the 2010 Ermitage Vin de Paille will be the last sweet wine made by Chapoutier. Made from 100% Marsanne, this perfect wine exhibits an incredible perfume of truffles, apricot jam and caramelized tangerines. This noble, surgically precise classic can be drunk now or cellared for over 100 years. It is a remarkable wine, and it’s a shame to see this cuvee discontinued. For the technical minded, this wine has 120 grams of residual sugar.
99 POINTS Ermitage le Meal Blanc 2011
The more flamboyant, California-styled 2011 Ermitage Le Meal Blanc is from a warmer site with a more southerly exposure. It offers up notes of wet rocks, tangerines, peaches and a striking scent reminiscent of the famous New Orleans dish, bananas Foster. I know that sounds weird, but that’s what it smelled like when I first put my nose in the glass. This exuberant, exotic, ostentatious white Hermitage may be controversial, but for me, it was over-the-top perfection.
99 POINTS Ermitage le Meal 2010
From one of the warmest sites on the Hill of Hermitage, the 2010 Ermitage Le Meal begs comparison with the famed Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle (which is made primarily from the same parcel). The wine’s huge color, which resembles vintage port, is followed by sumptuous notes of steak au poivre, creme de cassis, blackberries, acacia flowers and scorched earth. Unctuously textured, full-bodied, incredibly refined and precise with amazing intensity as well as a finish that lasts nearly 60 seconds, this colossal effort is one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from Le Meal. It should hit its peak in 15 years and last for 50 or more.
98+ POINTS Ermitage l’Ermite Blanc 2011
The rigorous, more austere 2011 Ermitage l’Ermite Blanc boasts an amazing terroir character with a backward style. A masterpiece in the making, it displays crystalline purity along with extraordinary notes of acacia flowers, quince, honey, wet rocks and candle wax. This amazing, full-bodied, concentrated white is the essence of a single vineyard as well as of Marsanne.
97 POINTS Condrieu Coteaux du Chery 2011
From a new parcel Chapoutier recently purchased, the 2011 Condrieu Coteaux du Chery reveals just how fabulous this terroir can be. My point of reference for Chery is undeniably Andre Perret’s single vineyard bottling from this site, but Chapoutier’s Condrieu is remarkable as well. Honeysuckle, peach and apricot marmalade notes interwoven with hints of rose petal and stone emerge from this full-bodied, unctuously textured, gorgeous white wine with a perfume that could fill a small room. Drink it over the next several years. The other cuvees, especially the Hermitages, will evolve for 30-50 years.
96 POINTS St Joseph les Granits Blanc 2011
The brilliant 2011 St.-Joseph Les Granits Blanc offers up scents of caramelized citrus, orange blossoms and honeysuckle. It is full-bodied with loads of fruit, and as of now, the telltale minerality has not yet penetrated the lavish fruit notes.
96 POINTS St Joseph les Granits Blanc 2010
With a production of 432 cases, the 2010 St.-Joseph Les Granits Blanc may be the finest white wine made in the appellation. Aromas of tangerine oil, orange marmalade, powdered stones and subtle gun flint as well as smoke jump from the glass of this full-bodied effort. This elegant, rich, full, stunning wine is a tour de force as well as a big-time reference point for what can be achieved from the granite hillsides of St.-Joseph.
95 POINTS Hermitage Chante-Alouette 2011
Possibly the finest cuvee of this wine I have ever tasted, the stunning, rich 2011 Ermitage Chante Alouette comes from three separate parcels on Hermitage Hill (Meal, Les Murets and Chante Alouette) and reveals plenty of white currant, buttered citrus, tangerine oil and honeysuckle along with hints of such exotic fruits as mango. It is a full-bodied, Montrachet-styled, dry white.
95 POINTS Ermitage les Greffieux Vieilles Vignes 2010
From the lower slopes of this rocky dome composed primarily of decomposed granite, with east, southeast, and southern exposures, the 2010 Ermitage Les Greffieux (343 cases produced) exhibits a black/purple color along with copious notes of graphite, blackberries, charcoal, pen ink and black fruits. With a layered, full-bodied mouthfeel, a pure, intense personality, and noticeable tannins in the finish, it appears set for a long evolution. Give it another 5-7 years of bottle age and drink it over the following three decades or more.
94 POINTS Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers 2010
One of the greatest wines made in the appellation, the opaque purple-colored, full-bodied 2010 Crozes-Hermitage Les Varonnieres exhibits notes of truffles, blackberries, asphalt, barbecue smoke, pen ink and steak tartare in addition to abundant minerality. It is a worthy competitor to the brilliant 2009. Drink it over the next 20-25 years.
94 POINTS St Joseph les Granits 2010
Most of the fruit comes from hillside vineyards in Larnage. The 2010 St.-Joseph Les Granits (870 cases produced) is a more flowery, elegant, feminine-styled effort than Les Varonnieres. A deep purple color is followed by sweet aromas of Chinese black tea, graphite, blueberries and black raspberries. With a flowery character, superb purity, full body and a precise, crisp finish with plenty of wet rock and powdered stone-like notes, this 2010 should age well for 15-20 years.
93+ POINTS Côte Rôtie la Mordorée 2010
There are 440 cases of the 2010 Cote Rotie La Mordoree. While it is a very strong effort, I would rank it a point or two below the 2009, which I believe is the finest La Mordoree since the awesome 1991. It offers an impressive dense ruby/purple color along with a sweet bouquet of bacon fat, black olives, black currants, raspberries, earth and forest floor. Ripe and medium-bodied with light to moderate tannin, it is somewhat closed at present, and will benefit from 4-5 years of cellaring. It should keep for 20-25 years.
92 POINTS Condrieu Invitare 2011
Chapoutier’s 2011 Condrieu Invitare reveals lychee nuts, honeysuckle, buttered melon and nectarine notes in its rich, full-bodied personality. It is a noteworthy success in a vintage that was extremely strong for Condrieu.
91 POINTS Hermitage la Sizeranne 2010
The selections parcellaire 2010 red wines include the outstanding 2010 Ermitage Monier de la Sizeranne. Notes of beef blood, creme de cassis, licorice and graphite emerge from this full-bodied, inky, rich, thick red that should drink well in 3-4 years and last for at least two decades.
Ratings in parenthesis indicate that the wine has not yet been released.
(97-100) Ermitage le Pavillon 2011
Flirting with perfection, the 2011 Ermitage Le Pavillon is the most remarkable of these four cuvees. Intense blackberry liqueur notes intermixed with notions of creme de cassis, charcoal, licorice and black truffles are followed by a monumentally sized wine with colossal concentration. It is another masterpiece of richness, power, symmetry and complexity. Give it 3-5 years of cellaring and drink it over the following 25-30 years.
(95-98) Ermitage l’Ermite 2011
The opaque black/purple-tinged 2011 Ermitage l’Ermite offers a combination of crushed stones, creme de cassis, blackberry liqueur, barbecue smoke and roasted meats. It is a powerful, slightly austere, backward effort that will need 5-6 years of bottle age after its release next year. It may turn out to be a 30-50-year wine in a vintage that made relatively forward wines. In that sense, it is an outlier in this vintage.
(94-97) Ermitage le Meal 2011
The 2011 Ermitage Le Meal exhibits aromas and flavors of graphite, beef blood/steak tartare, blackberry liqueur, acacia flowers and scorched earth. It is full-bodied, dense and concentrated.
(94-97) St Joseph le Clos 2011
A new cuvee is the 2011 St.-Joseph Le Clos. A truly magnificent wine, it ranks alongside the Vignes de l’Hospice of Marcel and Philippe Guigal as well as the St.-Josephs from Delas and J. L. Chave. An inky/purple color is followed by hints of graphite, blackberries, blueberries and smoke in this gorgeously proportioned, full-bodied, multidimensional wine. It should drink well for 15+ years.
(93-95) Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers 2011
The dense purple-colored 2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Varonnieres offers notes of black olives, tapenade, gun flint, smoky barbecue, charcuterie and red meats. Full-bodied, soft and round, it is ideal for drinking over the next 12-15 years.
(92-95) St Joseph les Granits 2011
More flint, barbecue smoke, crushed rock, spring flower, blueberry and black raspberry characteristics are present in the full-bodied 2011 St.-Joseph Les Granits. Uncommonly fleshy and seductive, it should drink nicely for a decade or more.
(91-93) Ermitage les Greffieux Vieilles Vignes 2011
As for the four cuvees of single vineyard Hermitage, the 2011 Ermitage Les Greffieux offers notes of crushed berry fruit, wet pebble/stone, deep, full-bodied flavors, moderate tannin, and a forward, full-bodied, lush style.
(90-92) Hermitage la Sizeranne 2011
The 2011 Ermitage Monier de la Sizeranne exhibits notions of ketchup, cassis, pen ink and flowers in a dense, medium to full-bodied style. It should be consumed over the next 15 or so years.
(89-92) Côte Rôtie la Mordorée 2011
The 2011 Cote Rotie La Mordoree is an outstanding success in this more challenging vintage for Cote Rotie. Raspberry, spring flowers, licorice, forest floor and underbrush notes emerge from this attractive, medium-bodied, elegant, delicious Cote Rotie. It should be consumed during its first decade of life.