M. Chapoutier

Josh Raynolds has high praise for Domaine M. Chapoutier in Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

International Wine Cellar
Issue 167, March/April 2013

Maison Chapoutier

By Josh Raynolds

Chapoutier’s long-time commercial director Pierre-Henri Morel characterized 2011 as “a vintage of freshness and forward fruit, with good minerality and vineyard expression” up and down the Rhone Valley. The wines generally don’t have the power and concentration to be long agers, he said, but “that’s what you buy 2010 and 2009 for. You need vintages like 2011 for drinking young and also fro restaurants, while the vintages like ’10, ’09 and ’05 are for collectors. Like most of the producers that I visited this year Morel emphasized that restaurants are selling wines “younger and younger all over the world, even at the most prestigious ones in France.”

2011 Crozes-Hermitage Blanc La Petite Ruche Bright gold. Ripe pear and melon aromas are complicated by notes of orange zest and dusty minerals. Smooth and expansive on the palate, which displays fresh pit and citrus fruit flavors and a touch of chamomile. Finishes on a refreshing note of bitter peach pit, with strong mineral cut and lift. 88

2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Blanc (100% marsanne; 12.5% alcohol): Bright gold. Intense citrus pith and floral aromas, with notes of ginger and white flowers in the background. Shows good density as well as vivacity, offering tangy lemon and orange zest flavors and a touch of chalky minerality. Finishes with resonating spiciness and good length. 89

2011 Saint-Peray Les Tanneurs (100% marsanne): Vivid gold. Deep, pungent aromas of lemon pith, pear, smoky lees and minerals. Silky and fleshy in texture, with gently sweet orchard fruit and melon flavors and a kiss of succulent herbs. The persistent finish is mineral-driven and focused, leaving behind notes of pear skin and anise. 90

2011 Saint-Peray Lieu-Dit Hongrie Bright yellow-gold. Ripe, spice-accented aromas of white peach, lemon curd and hazelnut, with a suave mineral nuance emerging with aeration. Silky, layered and rich, with very good depth and intensity to its flavors of pit fruits, honey and anise. Shows very good clarity and power on a long, sappy finish that echoes the anise note. 91

2011 Condrieu Invitare Vivid yellow-gold. A complex bouquet evokes candied pit fruits, honey and anise, with a bright mineral topnote. Juicy and smooth in texture, offering fresh nectarine and orange pith flavors and a deep note of nougat. A strong mineral quality comes up on the spicy, lingering finish. 

2011 Condrieu Coteau De Chery Light, bright gold. A highly aromatic bouquet evokes pear, peach nectar, melon and white flowers. Round and supple in texture, offering densely packed honeydew and pit fruit flavors that expand and brighten with air. Finishes smooth and sappy, with lingering peach and mineral notes. 92

2011 Saint-Joseph Blanc Deschants(100% marsanne): Bright yellow-gold. Smoke- and spice-accented aromas of dried pit fruits and jasmine. Weighty but firm, even dry-edged, offering musky pear skin and peach pit flavors and a touch of anise. Closes on a slightly bitter note, with lingering smokiness and a touch of succulent herbs. 88

2011 Saint-Joseph Blanc Les Granits Bright yellow-gold. Orange zest, jasmine, licorice and minerals on the intensely perfumed nose. Silky and precise, with very good lift to its tangy citrus fruit flavors. Shows a deeper pear nuance on the impressively long and clinging finish, which leaves a subtle floral note behind. 91

2011 Hermitage Blanc Chante Alouette Vivid gold. Complex aromas of melon, fig, beeswax and jasmine. Dense and lush, with good concentration and extract to its ripe pit fruit and honeydew flavors. Finishes smoky and broad, with lingering fig and floral notes and impressive length.

2011 Saint-Joseph Blanc Les Granits Bright gold. Complex, highly fragrant aromas of pit fruits, melon and orange zest, with musky floral and mineral qualities gaining strength with air. Lush and expansive on the palate, offering intense, surprisingly well-defined citrus and pit fruit flavors lifted by chalky minerality. Very precise for its richness. At once powerful and vibrant, with excellent finishing clarity and a lingering note of honeysuckle. 90-92

2011 Ermitage Blanc De L’Oree Vivid gold. Seductive aromas and flavors of candied pit fruits, honey, anise and white flowers, with vanilla and mineral overtones. Broad, fleshy and juicy, offering a suave blend of richness and vivacity. A smoky note gains strength with air and carries through an impressively long, penetrating finish. The richest and most densely packed of this set of white wines from Hermitage, with the richness to handle the most strongly flavored foods. 93-95

2011 Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite Vivid yellow-gold. Displays a highly complex bouquet of candied citrus and orchard fruits, flowers and minerals, with anise and truffle accents building in the glass. Taut and linear on the palate, offering sappy, deeply pitched lemon curd and poached pear flavors that gain flesh with air. Focused and energetic on the finish, with powerful mineral cut and a suave floral nuance. 92-94

2011 Ermitage Blanc Le Meal Bright gold. Mineral-accented peach, pear and Meyer lemon aromas are deepened by notes of toasty lees and vanilla. Juicy citrus, quince and peach pit flavors give way to riper melon with air but show excellent nerve. Really clings to the palate, finishing broad, bright and impressively long. Rich and energetic. 92-94

2010 Saint-Joseph Blanc Les Granits (100% old-vines marsanne that is grown on heavily granitic slopes in Tournon): Bright gold. An intensely perfumed nose displays scents of spiced pear, licorice, buttered toast and jasmine. Rich but vibrant on the palate, offering powerful lemon curd, pear and mineral flavors and a sweet vanilla undertone. Gains weight with air, becoming deeper and richer and finishing with excellent energy and focus. This impressive wine cedes little ground to the best white Hermitages. 93

2010 Ermitage Blanc De L’Oree Light, bright gold. An exotically perfumed, heady bouquet evokes peach nectar, honey, candied ginger and licorice, with a bright mineral topnote. Deeply pitched orchard fruit flavors are complicated by notes of chamomile and fennel, picking up a vanilla nuance on the back half. Completely stains the palate and shows superb energy and focus on the long, incisive, floral-accented finish. 94

2010 Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite (100% marsanne, from ungrafted vines, many of which reportedly pre-date phylloxera): Vivid gold. Explosive, mineral-drenched aromas of nectarine, poached pear, honey and anise, with a smoky overtone. Completely coats the palate with deeply concentrated orchard and pit fruit flavors and picks up bright chalk and floral nuances with air. As much a solid as a liquid, and yet the wine shows an uncanny litheness and precision. Finishes sappy, incisive and relentlessly long, leaving iodine, pear and floral notes behind, eventually. 

2010 Ermitage Blanc Le Meal Light, bright gold. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes candied citrus fruits, nectarine, honeysuckle and beeswax, with a bright mineral overtone. Juicy, precise and deeply concentrated, offering fresh orchard fruit flavors and suggestions of bitter citrus pith and chalky minerals. Gains weight and power with air while maintaining its vivacity and finishes with outstanding clarity, thrust and persistence.

2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Bright ruby. Spice-accented red berry and candied cherry aromas display a pungent character. Shows good depth and energy to its tangy raspberry and bitter cherry flavors, which pick up a peppery nuance on the back half. Silky and approachable, with soft tannins lending shape to the finish. 87-89

2011 Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche Opaque ruby. Fragrant red and dark berries on the nose, with sexy floral and spice qualities in the background. Silky, sweet blackcurrant and cherry flavors are lifted by tangy acidity, which provides back-end cut. Clings nicely on the finish, featuring gentle tannins and persistent spiciness. 87-89

2011 Saint-Joseph Deschants Inky ruby. Musky, smoke- and herb-accented aromas of dark berries and cherry skin. Chewy, penetrating cassis and bitter cherry flavors gain sweetness with air and pick up a peppery nuance. The smoky note comes back on a youthfully tannic, gripping finish. A bit brooding right now but shows good depth. 88-90

2011 Saint-Joseph Les Granilites Vivid ruby. Black raspberry and cherry compote on the nose, with mineral and spice nuances adding vivacity. Lively and sharply focused, offering bitter cherry, dark berry and candied licorice flavors. Gains sweetness on the youthfully tannic finish, which features a hint of spicecake.

2011 Cote-Rotie Les Becasses Glass-staining ruby. Pungent aromas of dried cherry, Indian spices and vanilla, with smoke and olive overtones. Sweet, palate-coating cherry and cassis flavors are braced by tangy acidity and become spicier with air. Floral and smoke notes linger on a long, supple and gently tannic finish that shows very good energy. 89-91

2011 Cornas Les Arenes Inky ruby. Sexy aromas of cherry-cola, cassis, violet and vanilla. Round, densely packed and palate-staining, with a firm spine to its flavors of dark berry preserves, bitter cherry, olive and minerals. The dark fruit qualities carry through a long, spice-accented finish that features supple tannins and a hint of candied flowers. 90-92

2011 Hermitage La Monier De La Sizeranne Opaque ruby. High-pitched aromas of black raspberry, cherry and fresh flowers, with deeper anise and olive nuances in the background. Juicy and precise, offering taut dark berry flavors that show a refreshingly bitter edge. Closes with strong cut, dusty tannins and lasting spiciness. 90-92

2011 Cote-Rotie La Mordoree Vivid ruby. Heady aromas of cherry-cola, cassis, incense and vanilla. Shows very good density, with a firm spine of acidity lifting dark berry preserve, violet pastille and cola flavors. Becomes richer with air while maintaining a vivacious personality. A spicy quality comes up with air and carries through a long, sappy, youthfully tannic finish. 91-93

2011 Crozes-Ermitage Les Varonnieres Dark purple. Highly fragrant aromas of candied blackberry, blueberry and licorice, with notes of vanilla, violet and cracked pepper adding complexity. Lush, intensely flavored and broad, offering intense dark berry and cherry compote flavors and an exotic floral nuance. Finishes spicy and long, with resonating spiciness and slow-building tannins. 91-93

2011 Saint-Joseph Le Clos Glass-staining ruby. A smoky, perfumed bouquet presents blackberry, cassis, dried flowers and musky herbs, with a bright mineral overtone. Juicy dark berry flavors are suave and open-knit, with notes of licorice and allspice coming on late. Pliant, sappy and sweet on the gently tannic finish, which strongly repeats the blackberry note. 90-92

2011 Saint-Joseph Les Granits Bright purple. Complex, intensely perfumed bouquet displays blackberry, cassis, cola and potpourri, along with a smoky overtone. Sweet, spicy and penetrating, with dark fruit compote and floral pastille flavors of impressive clarity. The long finish, with its clinging note of black pepper, is intensely spicy and youthfully tannic. 91-93

2011 Ermitage Les Greffieux Glass-staining purple. Sexy, smoke- and spice-accented aromas of dark berry compote, cola and vanilla. Stains the palate with intense blackberry and blueberry flavors that show excellent clarity and energy. Fine-grained tannins come on late and are quickly absorbed by the wine’s vibrant fruit. Sweet and precise on the finish, leaving behind a strong note of blue fruit. A fruit-driven wine that should be delicious soon after release. 92-94

2011 Ermitage Le Meal Bright purple. Powerful, spice-accented aromas of raspberry, cherry and cola, with a smoky mineral topnote. Bitter cherry and red berry flavors show an appealingly silky texture and noteworthy energy. A lively core of minerality provides lift and sharpens the wine’s sexy fruit qualities. Closes with excellent clarity, thrust and persistence. 92-94

2011 Ermitage Le Pavillon Opaque ruby. A heady, alluring bouquet evokes candied red fruits, potpourri, cracked pepper and Asian spices. Stains the palate with juicy black raspberry and cherry flavors that gain weight and a floral quality with aeration. Rich yet lively, finishing with superb clarity and lingering spiciness. The most Burgundian of this year’s high-end Hermitages from Chapoutier, showing plenty of upfront sex appeal. 93-95

2011 Ermitage L’Ermite Deep, glass-staining ruby. A highly aromatic nose displays scents of blackcurrant, cherry-cola and violet, with a spicy topnote. Juicy, spicy and penetrating, with bright acidity energizing the flavors of cassis, blackberry, violet pastille and bitter chocolate. Intensely perfumed and pure, finishing with supple tannins and strong, spicy persistence. 92-94

2010 Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche Bright ruby. Cherry and smoky herbs on the pungent nose. Bright and incisive, with good mineral snap and back-end grip. Shows very good energy, finishing on a spicy note with gentle, harmonious tannins. 89

2010 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Vivid ruby. Suave, spice-accented aromas of red berries and fresh flowers. Juicy and seamless on the palate, offering raspberry and cherry flavors and a touch of cracked pepper. Closes with very good clarity and length, leaving a violet pastille note behind. The more brooding 2009 version of this wine has closed down in the last year but responds well to decanting, offering ripe cherry and licorice flavors with notes of licorice and bitter chocolate. It would work very nicely with braised lamb or beef this winter but should be even better with at least a few more years of age. 90

2010 Cote-Rotie Les Becasses Deep ruby. High-pitched aromas of black raspberry, fresh flowers and Asian spices. Smooth and expansive on the palate, offering vibrant red and dark berry flavors that are given spine and lift by juicy acidity. The floral note comes back strong on the finish, which leaves allspice and floral notes behind. Quite sexy, and showing plenty of upfront appeal thanks to silky, well-integrated tannins. 91

2010 Saint-Joseph Les Granilites (sourced from vineyards in Tournon and just south of the village that are based on decomposed granite): Opaque ruby. Intense, spice-accented aromas of red berries and violet. Juicy and open-knit, with good depth to its raspberry and cherry flavors. Finishes with strong mineral cut, silky tannins and very good length. Here’s a 2010 that’s drinking very well right now, but I suspect that it may close up soon. 90

2010 Cornas Les Arenes Vivid purple. Aromas and flavors of dark berries, cola and candied flowers, with a spicy nuance that gains power with air. Juicy and precise, with impressive clarity, punch and persistence on the gently tannic, floral-tinged finish. On the elegant side for Cornas, with plenty of upfront appeal but the balance to age.

2010 Hermitage La Monier De La Sizeranne Bright ruby. Spice- and herb-accented aromas of dried cherry, cassis and licorice. Deep and chewy in texture, offering powerful dark berry and bitter cherry flavors that slowly gain sweetness with air. Closes with firm tannic grip and lingering spiciness. Give this wine at least a few more years of age. 89(+?)

2010 Cote-Rotie La Mordoree (100% syrah, from vines in the Cote Blonde that are reportedly almost 65 years old): Opaque ruby. An exotically perfumed bouquet presents candied dark berries and cherry-cola, with notes of Indian spices, anise and smoked meat building with air. Fleshy but focused on the palate, with intense black and blue fruit flavors and a touch of candied violet. Tangy minerals add lift and cut to a strikingly long, smoky and gently tannic finish. 93

2010 Crozes-Ermitage Les Varonnieres Inky purple. Ripe, spice-tinged black and blue fruits on the nose and palate. Picks up smokiness and sweetness with air and shows a suave blend of richness and vivacity. Tannins make a late appearance and melt quickly into the fruit. Finishes with excellent clarity and thrust, leaving allspice and candied blueberry notes behind. 93

2010 Saint-Joseph Les Granits Bright purple. Potent aromas of black and blue fruits, incense, licorice and black olive, with a bright mineral topnote. Sappy and precise, offering deeply pitched blueberry and cassis flavors and an exotic floral pastille nuance. The mineral quality comes back strong on the finish, which lingers with outstanding tenacity and clarity. There’s a tension to this wine that suggests it will be a long-distance runner. 93

2010 Ermitage Les Greffieux Vivid purple. Mineral- and smoke-accented blackberry and blueberry on the intensely perfumed nose and in the mouth. Lush but energetic, with a peppery nuance adding bite and a sexy floral note building in the glass. Gains weight and structure with air and finishes with outstanding power and focus, on a lingering candied violet note. The most mineral-driven of this year’s set of Ermitage bottlings from Chapoutier, and in need of patience. 94(+?)

2010 Ermitage Le Pavillon Inky purple. Heady, exotically perfumed aromas of ripe dark berries, candied flowers, Indian spices and cracked pepper. Stains the palate with intense blackberry and boysenberry flavors, picking up a sweet violet pastille note with aeration. Dense but lively and strikingly precise given its concentration. Shows superb finishing energy and focus, closing with amazing length and slow-building, harmonious tannins. This wine is built for the long haul; I wouldn’t touch it for at least another decade. 96

2010 Ermitage L’Ermite Glass-staining purple. Powerful, room-filling aromas of dark fruit liqueur, sandalwood, mocha, licorice and potpourri. Stains the palate with weighty dark berry and bitter cherry flavors, a sappy floral pastille nuance adding an exotic touch. Silky tannins come up with air and build through a remarkably long, chewy, smoke- and spice-accented finish. This wine has gained structure and power since last year and really should be stashed away and forgotten for a good long while. 95(+?)

2010 Ermitage Le Meal Deep ruby. Spice-accented black raspberry, cherry-cola, licorice and floral pastilles on the highly perfumed nose and on the palate. Sappy, deeply pitched and chewy on entry, then livelier in the middle, with lively acidity adding lift and bite. Really stains the palate, finishing with superb energy and floral-driven persistence.


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