Greffieux, northern Rhône’s rising star: a vertical retrospective by Jeb Dunnuck for Wine Advocate
Michel Chapoutier’s vineyard-designated (sélection parcellaire) Greffieux is quickly rising in prominence as one of the greatest expression of the northern Rhône. It lies toward the bottom of the storied Hermitage vineyards, just beneath Méal. In another era, it was used in classically blended Hermitage. But today, Michel’s pioneering work in biodynamics and his desire to bottle Greffieux as a single-vineyard wine has shown its enormous potential to produce some of the world’s greatest Syrah.
“Greffieux’s soil contains some granite,” writes Rhône authority John Livingstone-Learmonth in The Wines of the Northern Rhône (University of California Press, 2005), but here there is more clay and also fine elements than higher up the hill… Greffieux is also stony, the alluvion stones on it being glacier residues… There is limestone in Greffieux, and the wine is refined by nature, and higher in acidity than many… The tannins never demand a long wait, and the wine opens and delivers earlier… [It] produces a wine that is firmer and more soundly structured.”
“Michel Chapoutier,” writes Jeb Dunnuck in the August 2014 issue of Wine Advocate, “continues to knock it out of the park with his tiny, single plot ‘Selections Parcellaires’ releases from throughout the Rhône Valley… There’s normally 300 cases or so of the Ermitage Les Greffieux, which comes from a lieu-dit that’s located at the bottom of the Meal, butting right up against the outskirts of Tain Hermitage. The soils here are varied, with alluvial and sediment soils giving way to deep rolled pebbles (a la Châteauneuf du Pape) as you move further up the slope. While this plot has been more widely recognized as white-wine territory, Michel makes one serious red Hermitage from it. It’s also noteworthy that this plot could be considered a clos, as it’s completely surrounded by a stone wall. As with Michel’s other Syrah, he’s moving away from huge amounts of new oak, and this cuvée is completely destemmed (this is the norm for Hermitage) and is aged in 20-25% new French oak today.”
The following are highlights and scores from Dunnuck’s vertical retrospective stretching back to 2001 (please note that you must be a Wine Advocate subscriber to click through to the complete reviews).
2013 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
This medium to full-bodied, layered, effort has good concentration, integrated acidity and plenty of length.
2012 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
I was blown away by this wine.
2011 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
Hard to resist now, it will evolve gracefully through 2026.
2010 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
The purity here is off-the-charts… incredible Syrah.
2009 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
Voluptuous, decadent and seriously fruited Hermitage that has full-bodied richness and power, layers of sweet fruit and awesome concentration.
2008 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
Elegant, seamless and silky.
2007 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
Sexy and delicious effort that offers serious charm.
2006 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
This incredible effort possesses a singular, unique profile, and is off-the-charts. Don’t miss it!
2001 Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux
Medium to full-bodied on the palate, with a beautiful texture, sweet fruit and fine tannin.