When Michel Chapoutier assumed control of his family’s Northern Rhône winery in 1990, it produced 550,000 bottles a year of traditional-style wines, and business was pretty good. “But Michel likes to change things,” said senior editor James Molesworth. He updated the vinification and élevage, converted to biodynamic farming and began to bottle many vineyard parcels separately instead of making a single Hermitage blend.
Today, M. Chapoutier produces more than 500,000 cases a year, is the largest vineyard owner on the prestigious hill of Hermitage, and consistently makes outstanding and classic reds and whites. Along with owning two other independent Rhône domaines, Chapoutier, a father of two, makes wines in places such as Alsace, Australia, Languedoc-Roussillon and Portugal.
“He is one of the most energetic and dynamic vintners I have ever come across. … I have no idea how he does it all,” said Molesworth. (Read “King of the Hill” for more.)