Type: Ermitage Le Méal Blanc
Grape Variety Used: 100% Marsanne
Alcohol Level: 13.5%
Length/Type of Fermentation: The grapes are hand harvested at full maturity (potential alcohol content being always at least 14%). After pressing the entire grapes, the must is cold racked for 24 hours. About 50% is vinified in new casks, the rest ferments in vats.
Length/Type of Aging: Before bottling, the maturation in casks is checked by frequent tastings. Organoleptic tests are carried out to determine how long it should remain in casks and the bottling date. Usually, bottling happens 10 to 12 months after harvest.
Unlike Burgundy and Bordeaux, the Rhône does not have an official cru (vineyard) classification system. There are, however, lieux-dits, “named places” or place names that denote vineyard sites and plots within each appellation. Chapoutier owns some of the most famous plots in the Rhône, including 34 hectares within the tiny Hermitage appellation. This collection of highly sought after wines is coined “Selections Parcellaires”. These exceptional wines are created organically and biodinamically and imported to the United States once per year.
Le Méal, a broader swath of the Hermitage hill at a slightly higher elevation (150-200 meters) faces slightly more easterly. It is composed of chalk and alluvial gravelly soil rather than granite, and produces a wine of greater perfume, whether red (Syrah) or white (Marsanne). Again, the small production from a 1.37 hectare site of vines, close to one century old, is reserved for Sélection Parcellaire labeling, up to 550 cases for the red and 300 of the rare white. Again, destemming and long macerations are the keys to suppleness and grace even as a young wine, though long cellaring will reward the patient taster. Le Méal holds its official “name place” from the old French word meaning “the best.”