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M. Chapoutier Scores 100 Points in Wine Advocate

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Looking at the 2014 whites from Michel Chapoutier, these are gorgeous wines that show the suppler, more elegant style of the vintage, yet still have thick, unctuous textures that keep you coming back to the glass. The level of concentration this estate is able to achieve, even in these more difficult vintages, is truly remarkable. The two blockbusters that readers shouldn’t miss (and that are still affordable by mere mortals) are the 2014 Hermitage Chante-Alouette and the 2014 Saint Joseph les Granits Blanc. With respect to the reds, 2013 is a serious vintage at this estate, and at the top end, they’ve produced the wines of the vintage. I suspect the top releases will shut down relatively quickly so if you’re inclined to try one young, don’t wait too long.—JEB DUNNUCK, WINE ADVOCATE

ermite-ermitage-blc NV100 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Ermitage l’Ermite Blanc

The wine of the vintage (and I’ll include all the wines of the northern Rhône, red and white in that grouping) is the 2014 Ermitage l’Ermite Blanc. Always made from 100% Marsanne that comes from the granite soils of the l’Hermite lieu-dit, it was aged 11 months in 25% new demi-muids before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Its medium-gold color is followed by a heavenly bouquet of liquid rock, hazelnut, caramelized pineapples, stone fruits and quince. Thick, unctuous, full-bodied, thrillingly pure and laser focused with a dry, blockbuster finish that just won’t quit, it needs 2-3 years of cellaring and will drink nicely over the following three or more decades.

98+ points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Ermitage de l’Orée

The thickest, most unctuous, full-bodied and sexy white of the vintage is the 2014 Ermitage de l’Orée. Coming all from the sedimentary soils of the Les Murets and aged mostly in demi-muids (only 15% new), it offers a sensational perfume of caramelized peaches, campfire, honeysuckle and white flowers that literally come soaring from the glass. Possessing uncommon density, a stacked mid-palate, loads of sweet fruit and a blockbuster finish, this hedonistic effort can be drunk with incredibly pleasure today, or cellared for a decade or more. It will have three or more decades of overall longevity.

98+ points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Ermitage le Pavillon

The star of the show in 2013 is the 2013 Ermitage le Pavillon. Coming from the west and eastern edges of the Bessards lieu-dit and aged in 30% new French oak, its sensational black/blue color is followed by the awesome bouquet of cassis, smoked earth, graphite and caramelized meats that could come from no other terroir in the world. Full-bodied, massive, dense, sexy and with a liquid rock-like character that comes out with time in the glass, it has sweet tannin and a blockbuster finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. It needs 5-6 years of cellaring and will have 30-40 years of more of ultimate longevity.

97 points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Ermitage le Méal

A classic expression of the gorgeous, sunbaked vineyard, the 2013 Ermitage le Méal is as ripe, sexy and voluptuous as they come in the vintage. Black raspberries, jammy blackberries, licorice, toasted spice and crushed flowers are just some of the nuances in the bouquet. Full-bodied, mouth-filling with ripe tannin, plenty of mid-palate density (which can be lacking in some wines in the vintage) and with a great finish, it has the balance and texture to dish out pleasure today, but will have 25 or more years of overall longevity.

97 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Ermitage le Méal Blanc

Similar in style to the hedonistically-styled Cuvee de l’Orée (especially when compared to the structured, mineral-laced l’Ermite), the 2014 Ermitage le Méal Blanc (aged in 10% new demi-muids) offers layers of celery seed, brioche, caramelized pineapple and citrus oil on the nose. Thick, rich, voluptuous and full bodied with a massive finish, drink this sensational white anytime over the coming two to three decades.

96+ points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Ermitage l’Ermite

More backwards, tight and structured than either the Méal or the Pavillon, the 2013 Ermitage l’Ermite was similarly completely destemmed and raised in a scant 30% new French oak. Inky purple/blue colored, it reluctantly yields incredibly mineral-laced notes of charcoal, liquid rock, cassis, black currants and graphite. While it’s less approachable than either of the two other Hermitages, it has fabulous density and depth, ripe tannin and incredible persistence on the finish. Hide these in the cellar for a decade, and enjoy over the following three to four decades.

96 points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph le Clos

Deeper in color and more opaque than the Les Granits, the 2013 Saint Joseph le Clos checks in at 14% natural alcohol and has beautiful density and depth in its crème de cassis, burning embers, wet rock and charcoal-scented bouquet. Medium to full-bodied, tight, focused and sensationally pure, with building tannin and a seamless, elegant, lengthy profile, it needs 2-3 years of cellaring and will have two or more decades of overall longevity.

96 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Condrieu Coteau de Chery

While I find the Condrieu Invitare release to be a classic, yet middle of the road effort, Chapoutier’s Condrieu Coteau de Chery has quickly leapt into the top handful of Condrieu in every vintage. The 2014 Condrieu Coteau de Chery is a sensational, single vineyard release that has that classic, overflowing Viognier perfume of tangerines, white flowers, citrus blossom and white peach. Possessing full-bodied density and depth, with a rich, unctuous texture, it stays remarkably fresh and lively on the palate, and finishes clean and dry. I’d drink bottles anytime over the coming 4-5 years, but it will evolve for longer if you’re so inclined.

96 – 98+ points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Ermitage l’Ermite

The 2014 Ermitage l’Ermite is almost painfully backwards and tight, with a liquid rock-like character permeating its lead pencil, beef blood/iodine, liquid violets, and black and blue fruits. Possessing more concentration and depth than just about every other wine I was able to taste in the vintage, this full-bodied, structured, backwards beast of an Hermitage will need 5-7 years of cellaring and keep for three decades.

96 – 98 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Ermitage le Pavillon

Both the Pavillon and l’Ermite see a touch more new oak, with the wine aged 18 months in 30% new French oak barrels. The 2014 Ermitage le Pavillon will without a doubt be one of the top two to three wines in the vintage; it offers an incredibly granite character in its burning embers, graphite, crème de cassis and campfire-like bouquet. Big, concentrated, full-bodied, thick and yet still with the always present hedonistic slant of this cuvee, it will need 4-5 years of cellaring and have three or more decades of longevity.

95 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph les Granits Blanc

The white of the vintage in Saint Joseph is the 2014 Saint Joseph les Granits Blanc. Coming all from one of the top terroirs in the region, the granite soils of the lieu-dit Saint Joseph, this 100% Marsanne release boasts terrific aromas and flavors of buttered citrus, poached pears, honeysuckle, spice and caramelized pineapple. Full-bodied, rich, concentrated and textured, yet also elegant and silky, it should be a must buy by anyone who loves northern Rhône whites. It will have 10-15 years of prime drinking.

95 – 98 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux

Starting off the four selection parcellaires releases and from a lieu-dit located just at the bottom of the Le Méal lieu-dit, the 2014 Ermitage les Greffieux was completely destemmed, vinified all in concrete (as are the vast majority of Michel’s wines) and aged in a combination of 25% new barrels and demi-muids. Inky black/blue colored, full-bodied, rich and sexy with a beautifully expansive, mouth filling texture, it has classic Hermitage notes of lead pencil, liquid rock, black olive and assorted darker fruits. It’s shockingly good in the vintage and will have two or more decades of prime drinking.

95 – 97+ points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Ermitage le Méal

Another inky colored wine that has a touch of blue at the rim, the 2014 Ermitage Le Méal offers a liqueur of blackberry-like perfume to go with lots of wood smoke (it sees a scant 25% new oak), licorice, smoked herbs and black raspberries. Big, rich, full-bodied and layered with plenty of building tannin, it will be a candidate for 2-4 years of cellaring and drink well over the following two decades.

94 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante-Alouette

A year in, year out blockbuster, the 2014 Hermitage Chante-Alouette comes from a mix of parcels on Hermitage hill and is 100% Marsanne; it spent ten months in 65% demi-muids (two- and three-year-old barrels) and 35% stainless steel tanks. Offering fabulous notes of buttered citrus, honeysuckle and a hint of pineapple, this medium to full-bodied, incredibly pure, elegant and seamless beauty opens up nicely with time in the glass, has building richness and a rock star finish. Don’t miss it.

94 points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Ermitage les Greffieux

One of the broader, more expansive and mouth-filling Hermitage in the vintage, the 2013 Ermitage les Greffieux comes from a site located lower down on the slope, just underneath the Méal and right up next to the town of Tain l’Hermitage. Its inky purple color is accompanied by terrific notes of blackberries, black raspberries, toasted spice, charcoal and roasted meats. Full-bodied, mouth-filling and with rock solid density and depth, its sweet tannin and overall elegant profile — all suggesting it will drink nicely for upwards of two decades.

94 points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Cote Rotie la Mordorée

Showing beautifully from barrel and now from bottle, the 2013 Côte Rôtie la Mordorée comes from schist soils, was completely destemmed and spent 18 months in 25% new French oak. Its deep purple color is accompanied by classic notes of raspberries, bay leaf, olive tapenade and violets. Possessing beautiful minerality, a full, layered mid-palate and building tannin, drink this beautiful wine anytime over the coming 15 or more years.

94 – 97 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph le Clos

More focused and delineated than the Les Granits release, the 2014 Saint Joseph le Clos comes from a mostly east-facing parcel that’s located high up on the slope. Surprisingly, it’s an early ripening parcel that’s harvest in mid-September in most vintages. Crème de cassis, liquid rock, graphite and violets characteristics all flow to a full-bodied, structures and layered Saint Joseph that has uncommon density, concentration and depth. It will have two decades of longevity.

(94 – 97) points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph les Granits

What will undoubtedly be a candidate for the Saint Joseph of the vintage, the 2014 Saint Joseph les Granits sports an inky purple color to go with a sensational perfume of graphite, crushed rocks, wood smoke, cassis and olive tapenade. Thick, unctuous, full-bodied and shockingly concentrated in the vintage, it should be reasonably approachable on release but evolve gracefully.

93+ points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph les Granits

Sporting a terrific mostly opaque purple color, the 2013 Saint Joseph les Granits gives up a gorgeous perfume of crushed rocks, violets, bay leaf, charcoal, and black and blue fruits. Medium to full-bodied, structured and tannic, it needs 3-4 years of cellaring but should have two decades of overall longevity. While this cuvee is normally exuberant and sexy, this 2013 is much more classically styled.

93 points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers

The 2013 Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers is brilliant. Coming from the western edge of Hermitage’s Bessards lieu-dit (this is a cool, west-facing parcel of granite soils), its deep ruby/purple color is followed by classic granite-induced aromas and flavors of burning embers, cassis, licorice, spring flower and pepper. This Mini-Hermitage is medium-bodied, nicely concentrated and has building tannic grip; it will drink well for 10-15 years.

(93 – 95+) points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Cote Rotie la Mordorée

Another wine that defies the more mid-weight style of the vintage, Michel’s 2014 Côte Rôtie La Mordorée sports an inky purple/blue color to go with jammy, ripe, sexy aromas and flavors of black olives, crushed violets, as well as black and blue fruits. Thick, full-bodied and thrillingly pure, it should be approachable on release yet also evolve gracefully.

92 points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Hermitage la Sizeranne

The 2013 Hermitage La Sizeranne is gorgeous and might just be the best vintage of this cuvee to date, when all is said and done. Offering beautiful minerality in its cassis, black raspberry, crushed rock, and licorice aromas and flavors, it’s medium to full-bodied and has plenty of tannin and integrated acidity — all of which will allow it to drink nicely for 10-15 years. They’ve been experimenting with the elevage for this cuvee and it’s paying off.

90 points – 2013  M. Chapoutier Cornas les Arênes

Referring to the Spanish word for very finely decomposed granite soils, almost to the point of sand, the 2013 Cornas Les Arênes is an outstanding Cornas that makes the most of the vintage. Cassis, crushed rocks, bouquet garni and plenty of rocky minerality emerge from this medium-bodied, elegant, yet nicely concentrated 2013. It has fresh acids and fine tannin, and should drink nicely through 2023.

90 – 93 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers

One of my favorite Crozes Hermitage is Chapoutier’s les Varonniers which comes from a cool, west-facing terroir located just to the west of the famed Bessards lieu-dit in Hermitage. The inky color of the 2014 Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers is accompanied by Hermitage-like notes of graphite, currants, black raspberry, pepper and liquid violets. These give way to a medium to full-bodied red that has juicy acidity, excellent purity of fruit and ripe tannin. It has more depth than most in the vintage and will have 10-15 years of overall longevity.

90 – 92 points – 2014  M. Chapoutier Hermitage la Sizeranne

The entry level Hermitage is the 2014 la Sizeranne, which comes from a multitude of different terroirs in Hermitage. I also continue to think the quality of this cuvee has soared in recent vintages. Powdered rock, cassis, chocolate and smoked earth all give way to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully textured Hermitage that has sweet tannin and a great finish. It should benefit from short term cellaring and have 15-20 years of overall longevity.

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