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Rhône Report scores and tasting notes

TheRhôneReport.com, issue #15, March, 2013.

Scores and tasting notes by Jeb Dunnuck.

2012 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Luberon Blanc La Ciboise (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Luberon) Light and refreshing, with plenty of fruit cocktail, juiced pear, and honeysuckle, the 2012 La Ciboise (Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Ugni Blanc and Roussanne) is medium-bodied, lively and fresh on the palate, with juicy acidity and solid texture. Well-made, clean, and easy drinking, you could do a lot worse for the money. (86 pts.) 

2010 M. Chapoutier Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc La Bernardine (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape) A classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, the 2010 La Bernardine is still drinking nicely with plenty of golden fruits, brioche, quince, and nutty aromas and flavors to go with a medium-bodied, smooth, and supple feel in the mouth. Still lively and fresh, with plenty of acidity, it has solid richness and a clean, dry finish. I would drink bottles over the coming handful of years, yet it should evolve gracefully for longer as well. (90 pts.)

2012 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Blanc (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône) Fresh, floral and slightly tropical, with background nuttiness, the 2012 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Blanc is light bodied, juicy, and clean on the palate, with plenty of acidity emerging on the finish. Value priced and well made, it should be enjoyed over the coming year or two. (86 pts.)

2011 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Rose (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône) Provencal in style, with a light pink/salmon color, the 2011 Belleruche Rose has light strawberry, herbs de Provence, and orange blossom like aromas and flavor to do with a light bodied, quaffable palate. A good rose, it should drink well over the coming summer months. (85 pts.)

2012 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Rose (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône) Slightly deeper in color, with more fruit, purity, and freshness, the 2012 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Rose is loaded with juicy cherry, melon, spice aromas and flavors. Made in an upfront, pure, and clean style, with more fruit than a typical Provencal styled effort, yet still classy and fresh, it should be consumed over the coming year or two. (88 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône) A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche is light ruby, semi-opaque in color and offers decent black cherry, garrigue, and hints of pepper to go with a lightly textured, polished palate. Quaffable in the good sense of the word, it should drink nicely for 1-3 years. (86 pts.)

2011 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône) Along the same lines yet even more supple and textured, the 2011 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche has plenty of cherry, underbrush, pepper, and licorice nuances as well as a simple, delicious palate. Easy going, it’s a perfect mid-week quaffer meant for drinking over the coming year or two. (87 pts.)

2011 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Luberon La Ciboise (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Luberon) Coming from a relatively unexplored region of the southern Rhône valley, the Luberon, the 2011 La Ciboise is ruby color and pretty on the nose, with plenty of sweet red berry fruit, spice, dried garrigue, and potpourri like qualities giving way to a medium-bodied, supple, and delicious palate. Clean, balanced, and well made, it’s a perfect mid-week drinker that will do nicely over the coming 2-3 years. (87 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape) Made from 100% Grenache, the 2010 La Bernardine is a mid-weight, elegant effort that offers plenty of berry and wild strawberry fruit, loamy earth, and herbs to go with a medium-bodied, fresh, and lightly textured palate. It will be better in another 2-3 years, and hold for upwards of a decade. (89 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Banyuls) Chapoutier’s fortified Banyuls is year in and year out an outstanding dessert wine that remains reasonably priced. The 2010 is no exception and offers up a spice-filled bouquet of plum liqueur, fig, milk chocolate, and dried herbs on the nose. Full-bodied, richly fruited, and voluptuous, with a mouth filling texture that coats the mouth, it is beautifully balanced and very drinkable. It can be consumed now or over the coming decade or longer. (90 pts.)

2011 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc Petite Ruche (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage) Soft, supple, and a solid introduction into the whites of the northern Rhône, the 2011 Petite Ruche is comprised of 100% Marsanne that’s aged all in vat. Moderately intense, with notions of golden fruits, mineral water, baked apples, and toasted nut, it is medium bodied, juicy, and fresh on the palate with good richness that comes through on the finish. Enjoy it over the coming 3-4 years. (87 pts.)

2011 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage)Along the same lines, yet with more purity and finesse, the 2011 Les Meysonniers (100% Marsanne) offers up plenty of fresh apple, quince, almond paste, and licorice to go with a medium-bodied, elegant, and lightly textured palate. I like the balance here better than with the Petite Ruche, and it also held up better with air. Elegant, balanced, and fresh, it lacks the concentration and depth found in the upper tier cuvees, but will gain richness with another year in bottle, and drink nicely for 4-6 years. (89 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) Deep and rich, with serious minerality in its honeysuckle, quince, licorice, and almond butter driven profile, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette is a blend of 100% Marsanne that has a small portion of the blend aged in oak barrels. Beautifully full-bodied and textured, with a firm, age-worthy feel, it is still relatively approachable now and should easily hold for 10-15 years. (94 pts.)

2011 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) Surprisingly , the 2011 Chante-Alouette is even better. More perfumed, supple, and seamless, with layers of quince, roasted nut, golden apple, and wet stone like minerality, it flows beautifully onto the palate with a medium to full-bodied, supple, and elegant texture that has no hard edges, thrilling purity of fruit, and a clean, classically dry and focused finish. Possibly not as long lived as the 2010, it is a brilliant Hermitage Blanc that will thrill over the coming decade or more. (95 pts)

2010 M. Chapoutier St. Joseph Blanc Les Granits (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph)  Lighter and fresher than the 2009, the 2010 M. Chapoutier St. Joseph Blanc Les Granits is an incredible St. Joseph Blanc. Loaded with minerality, white flowers, honeycomb, and orange peel, it stays light and graceful on the palate, with full-bodied richness that’s balanced by clean, integrated acidity and a detailed, focused finish. Building in richness with air, this knockout Blanc will have two decades or more of longevity. (95 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc Le Méal (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) Much more rich, voluptuous, and textured, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc Le Méal offers up spectacular aromas and flavors of carmelized peaches, honey, orange zest, quince, and searing minerality. Full-bodied, decadent, and exceedingly rich, yet also light on the palate and even graceful, this awesome Hermitage Blanc can be enjoyed now, or over the coming 2-3 decades. (97 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc De L’Orée (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) A blend of 100% Marsanne that’s aged all in new 500-Liter demi-muids, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc De L’Orée is flat out awesome. Spectacularly pure, with decadent nectarine, apricot, honeysuckle, and white flower-like qualities on the nose, it flows onto the palate with a full-bodied, unctuous texture that has an almost chewy richness that somehow never seems heavy or cumbersome in the least. Opening up in the glass, it possesses a singular, perfectly balanced profile with brilliant freshness and focus, layers of fruit, and a blockbuster finish. White wine simply doesn’t get any better. (100 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) Possessing slightly more golden fruits than the De L’Orée, with additional notions of toast, orange rind, sautéed peaches, mineral, and a hint of petrol, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Blanc l’Ermite is every bit as rich and impressive as its sibling. A blend of 100% Marsanne that comes from the estate’s oldest vines and from the pure granite soils located near the top Hermitage hill, it offers up spectacular richness and depth to go with a full-bodied, voluptuous, yet laser focused mouth feel, no weight, and a brilliantly detailed, energetic finish. It is drop dead gorgeous now, so do not be afraid to open bottles (it benefits from air). Nevertheless, given the overall concentration, freshness, and purity, it will most likely outlive me. (100 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Petite Ruche (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage) The 2010 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Petite Ruche is a delicious, upfront, and approachable Crozes-Hermitage that offers plenty of blackberry, white pepper, leather, and hints of game to go with a medium-bodied, lightly textured palate. A rock solid Syrah that has good northern Rhône typicity, it should be consumed over the coming 3-4 years. (87 pts.)

2009 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage) Deeply colored and drinking like a mini-Hermitage, the 2009 M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers is a meaty, rich effort that reveals plenty of blackberry, currant, black olive, charred meat, and loamy earth aromas and flavors to go with a medium bodied, pure, and classically fresh, focused palate. It opens up over the evening, so don’t be afraid to give it a quick decant prior to serving. It should evolve gracefully for 7-8 years. (89 pts.)

2009 M. Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) A beautiful entry level Hermitage that’s reasonably priced given the quality, the 2009 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne is 100% Syrah that was aged for 14 months in French oak. Voluptuously textured, medium to full-bodied, and with beautiful depth and richness, it delivers notions of crème de cassis, spice-box, licorice, and roasted meats on the nose. Pure, complex, and with plenty of ripe tannin that reins in the finish and adds ample focus, it can be consumed anytime over the coming 15+ years. (93 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) Almost as impressive, yet slightly more firm and less concentrated, the 2010 Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne offers up classic black raspberry, pepper, mineral, and graphite as well as a medium to full-bodied, rich, and brilliantly focused palate. Elegant and finesse driven, yet with beautiful backend richness, it will drink nicely for 15 years or more. (92 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie La Mordorée (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie) A gorgeous Côte-Rôtie that is up there with the ’09, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie La Mordorée is a blend of 100% Syrah that was aged in 1/3 new French oak. It offers up a classical profile of blackberry, mineral, bacon fat, pepper, and spring flowers that flows to a medium to full-bodied, laser focused palate that has superb richness and depth through the middle. While youthful and fresh, it is surprisingly approachable and a superb drink even now. Nevertheless, give bottles another 3-4 years, and enjoy over the following 15 years or more. (95 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier St. Joseph Les Granits (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph) Chapoutier’s 2010 Les Granits is an awesome St. Joseph that could be the wine of the vintage for that AOC. Deeply colored, it offers up a stunning array of black and blue fruits, violets, smoked bacon, and hints of flowers to go with a full-bodied, concentrated, and perfectly balanced palate. Showing no hard edges, brilliant purity of fruit, and a great finish, this beauty needs 2-3 years in the cellar, and will shine for 15 years or more. (94+ pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) Borderline perfection and a monumental Syrah in the making, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal offers up a classic, age-worthy profile that is only for those with cold cellars and plenty of patience. Awesome in every way, it delivers deep, rich aromas and flavors of smoked dark fruits, salted beef, liquid minerality, sappy flowers, and hints of chocolate to go with a full-bodied, incredibly concentrated, structured, and backwards palate. The antitheses of upfront and early drinking, it needs a solid decade or more to fully integrate all of its components, but will be spectacular when it does. It will have upwards of three decades or more of ultimate longevity and hats off the Michel Chapoutier for continuing to fashion wines in this cellar worthy style. (99+ pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Les Greffieux (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) A blend of 100% Syrah that spent 18 months in one to two year old barrels, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Les Greffieux is also brilliant. Screaming Syrah on the nose, with copious black fruits, wild herbs, olive tapenade, game, and violets, it flows onto the palate with a full-bodied, concentrated, and seamless texture that stays incredibly light, ethereal, and elegant. Perfectly balanced, with masses of tannin and a decidedly mineral-drenched finish, it needs another 4-6 years of bottle age and will shine for 15+ years. (97 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage l’Ermite (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) More youthful, backwards, and tannic, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage l’Ermite spent 20 months in new and one-year-old barrels prior to bottling. Possessing knockout crème de cassis, blackberry, spring flowers, mineral, and graphite aromas and flavors, it stays awesomely focused and fresh on the palate, with juicy acidity, beautiful mid-palate concentration, and a seamless, elegant finish. Continuing to gain richness and depth over the evening, it seems to lack the sheer wealth of material found in the Le Pavillon, yet has ethereal finesse, purity, and elegance that’s coupled with serious levels of concentration. It needs to be hidden in the cellar for upwards of a decade, yet will shine for 2-3 decades. (98+ pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) Massive and backwards, with a more masculine profile than the l’Ermite, the 2010 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon is a blend of 100% Syrah, from 90-100 year old vines, that spent 18-20 months in 30% new French oak. Seriously endowed, with deep, rich, and mineral-drench aromas of black currants, crushed stone, licorice, leather, and smoked herbs, it flows onto the palate with thrilling levels of extract, huge tannin, and a blockbuster finish. The most age worthy of the lineup, it desperately needs 8-10 years of bottle age, and will have upwards of three decades or more of total longevity. (100 pts.)

2010 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Vin de Paille (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage) An insanely good dessert wine that will put just about any Sauternes to shame, Chapoutier’s 2010 Vin de Paille is made from 100% Marsanne that’s dried on straw mats prior to pressing. Aged in 100% new French oak, it offers up an incredible bouquet of honeyed apricots, caramelized peaches, brioche, and flowers. Ethereal on the palate as well, with an unctuous, full-bodied texture that somehow manages to stay fresh and light, this monumental effort is off the hook good now, yet will most likely age forever. (100 pts.)

braille label

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