M. Chapoutier

Robert Parker on 2009 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvée De l’Orée

100 points

There are 477 cases of the light gold-colored 2009 Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree, which I would be happy to insert in a blind tasting against the world’s greatest dry white wines, including Montrachet. The famous gout de petrol is there along with hints of citrus oil, wet steel, crushed rocks, quince, white currants, anise and honeysuckle. Very full, with off-the-charts intensity, this wine was fashioned from yields of 13 hectoliters per hectare (which is financial suicide) from 90 to 100-year old Marsanne vines. The result is an amazingly concentrated white wine that should drink well for 50+ years.

M. Chapoutier

Robert Parker on his recent tasting of Chapoutier wines

“The single-vineyard wines, or selections parcellaires, 2010 whites are absolutely amazing…”

As I have written many times, all of these wines are produced from rigidly cultivated, bio-dynamically managed vineyards. That has been the rule since Michel Chapoutier first took over this firm in the late 1980s. Now, with over 20 years of biodynamic viticulture under his belt, Chapoutier remains committed to this rather radical style of organic farming. He believes the effect is to reduce rot in damp, rainy vintages. Moreover, he has observed that after 10 to 15 years of biodynamic farming, the natural acids tend to be more vivid and the overall pH of the soils (as well as the wines) has dropped. Controversial, outspoken and brutally candid, Chapoutier, who suffers no fools, continues to admirably produce wines that are among the finest in the world and potentially the longest lived. Refusing to acidify, chaptalize, or touch the wines in any way, he clearly wants every wine to capture the very essence of its terroir and vintage personality. In this, he succeeds remarkably. No one has made more effort in resurrecting the once-forgotten backwater appellation of St.-Peray than Michel Chapoutier. Working in conjunction with the famed Michelin three-star restaurant family, the Pics, Chapoutier has produced a sensational 2010 Gamme Pic and Chapoutier St.-Peray, and the first single-vineyard St.-Peray, the 2010 Lieu-Dit Peyrolles St.-Peray, which is one of the greatest St.-Perays I have ever tasted. This appellation is all steep hillside vineyards planted in pure, decomposed granite soils, not dissimilar from Hermitage, but they are located on the other side of the Rhone, facing the city of Valence. The single-vineyard wines, or selections parcellaires, 2010 whites are absolutely amazing, with production levels ranging from 300 to 700 or 800 cases of each cuvee. These wines are for true connoisseurs, as they are expensive and meant for long, long evolutions, but they capture the essence of a vintage and terroir as well as any wines in the world. As for the selections parcellaires of 2010 reds, Chapoutier likes this vintage almost as much as 2009, but feels it is very different, emphasizing more acidity and minerality, whereas 2009 is a combination of pure power, concentration and great potential longevity. Michel Chapoutier considers the 2009s, which are all in bottle, to be among the greatest wines he has ever produced, equaling his finest wines of 2006, 2003, 1999, 1990 and 1989 (his debut year).

—Robert Parker
Wine Advocate, December 2011

M. Chapoutier

Jancis Robinson chats with Michel Chapoutier, “Quixotic adopter of biodynamics”…

Quaffable and quotable

By Jancis Robinson
Published: May 27 2011 22:49 | Last updated: May 27 2011 22:49

Jancis’s 2010 Chapoutier picks

L’Ermite Ermitage Blanc
Le Méal Ermitage Rouge
Le Pavillon Ermitage Rouge
Les Greffieux Ermitage Rouge

Best Chapoutier buys

Barbe Rac Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge
Coteau de Chéry Condrieu
Les Granits St-Joseph Rouge and Blanc

Michel Chapoutier has been in sole charge of one of the three famous wine producers based at the foot of the hill of Hermitage since the late 1990s, when his brother Marc mysteriously faded from view to leave the much noisier Michel to speak for their investments in Australia, Roussillon and Alsace, as well as the Rhône valley.

Earlier this month, this quixotic early adopter of biodynamics gave the customary first sniff of his latest collection of individual vineyard bottlings, the so-called Sélections Parcellaires, to the British wine trade and press. Only a few thousand bottles of each of these wines are filled and British merchants are just starting to offer them, at between £130 and £1,000 per six-bottle case in bond.

He began by declaring, in his strangely soaring lilt, “What can I say? Winemakers are always liars. We said 2009 was amazing but 2010 is so good, we’re just trying not to say it in the same way.” The 2010 vintage in the Rhône was, he said, “really surprising. We all knew 2009 would be a vintage to produce powerful, sunny wines – like 2000, 1990 and 1995. But 2010 was cooler, with rain at good times. It has less power than 2009, more room for terroir expression.” And when Chapoutier racked the young wine, he was “more and more surprised … These are very mineral wines. You have to make an effort to discover them, but behind this there is complexity and they carry perfectly the terroir. If 2009 expressed the grape, 2010 expresses the soil.” (I omit his comparison of 2010s to a Doric column because I didn’t understand a word of it.)

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M. Chapoutier

Decanter Magazine Interview

M. Chapoutier

Belleruche featured on the Today Show

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