Michel Chapoutier is one of the principal Winemakers in the Rhone Valley. His wines come from both the Northern and Southern Rhone Appellations. He believes the highest quality wines are grown as close to nature as possible, and employs organic methods wherever possible. All his wines express single varieties from single Vineyards. Michel believes that wines are at their optimum when paired with foods – To this end he designs his wines with long, elegant finishes. I was very privelged to recently attend a Masterclass with Michel in London, whilst tasting his latest offerings……
For more information on Chapoutier here are his website details http://www.chapoutier.com/
Attended: Thursday 10th May - Michel Chapoutier 06 Tasting
06 Chapoutier "Concentrated like 05 / Elegant like 96"
It was summer in London, it was raining. It was the Groucho Club in Soho. The streets were slightly steamy, The people and traffic hustled by. It was a busy days.... One of those days where the whole world is working. The beaches are empty, the bars are quiet save for those regulars who never quite leave.
On such a busy day the 30 or so 'trade gang' sat intimately at long impassionate tasting desks. A hushed chatter hissed across the room... The odd sentence could be overheard..."Is En Primeur Good for you....05 Burgs is stunning...My Girlfriend likes to...."
Shiny glasses shimmered....and through the doors came the Maestro.
"Phenolic and Physiological" he chimed in his Gallic tones "Global Warming is having an impact in two ways...The temperature and CO2. With both increasing, plants are making more sugar and we are finding that grapes are reaching optimum Physiological maturity at higher alcohols....We have two choices...Continue to pick at Phenolic levels i.e when alcohol is say 12 % etc, but this means we are finding green vegetal characters in our wine. Or we can pick at Physiological ripeness and makes wines at higher and higher alcohols. This also will be a very big problem" The maestro looked down glumly...obviously there was no hope in this dilemma. But suddenly a glint came across The Maestro's eye, a curl of a smile...his head started rising, his proud finger erect was pointing towards the sky...In elation he cried "BUT we have an Oenological answer to rising alcohol...WILD YEAST" We all let out a sigh of relief...Thank God there was a solution and this possible crisis was being averted. "Wild Yeast" he continued "eat more sugar than cultivated yeast during fermentation. In this were we can use up more sugar, have lower alcohol wines which are beautiful balanced and tasteful......"
Michel Chapoutier believed that the 06's in Rhone, unlike the rest of France were superb and better than 05. This was because the harvest rains that layed siege elsewhere did not materialize in the Rhone. I concur. I tasted the 05's and 06's and the key note was the incredible body of the wines, and perhaps the most elegant least bitter tannins I have ever tasted in a wine.
Saint Joseph Blanc Les Granits 100% Marsanne
Minerality, Soft Fruit, Peach, good acidity holding it up...v little oak influence a slightly bitter end which Chapoutier likes as he believes this complements food. V Good
Ermitage Blanc De L'Oree 100% Marsanne
Nose - more pungent and smoky than Granits / fresh palate / beautiful body / long length - elegant V Good
Ermitage Blanc Le Meal 100% Marsanne
Meal means'honeyed' and this does come through in this white. Slightly warmer / poss more alcoholic than others / slightly dusty nose and quince. In the mouth Big and Bold - superb balance - Superb
Ermitage Blanc L'Ermite 100% Marsanne
More Flinty/Mineral, balance not quite there for me a touch more acidity for length and to hold it up perhaps. Again trademark length Good
ChdPape Croix de Bois 100% Grenache
Youthful Pink rim / Chalk Flint / Wild Cherry / Incredible silky tannins...Concentrated and elegant Superb
ChdPape Barbe Rac100% Grenache
Deeper Red / Distinctive Flint Nose / slight fizz still fermenting from Wild Yeast..Again great tannins..V Good
Crozes Ermitage Rouge Les Varonniers 100% Syrah
Rasberry/Flint/White Pepper some Black Currant
v spicy cinnamon and licorice. Gorgeous after taste V Good
Saint Joseph Rouge Les Granits 100% Syrah
Deep Red / Funky Nose / savoury, gamey. Again the beautiful elegant tannins, you can drink all these reds now and its a joy. Have to believe Michel that these tannins will only get better over 20,30,50+ years. V Good
Cote Rotie Rouge La Mordoree100% Syrah
Beauty some rosemary - Big fresh start fruit burst drifting off to lovely finish with a touch of warmth.Very very long finish silky Superb
Ermitage Rouge Le Meal 100% Syrah
If I was Parker 96-100. Rich Opulence. Perfect Body and length,. Spicy but not too spicy gorgeaous lick your lips fat texture. Incredible
Ermitage Rouge Le Pavillon100% Syrah - Star of Show (just pipping Le Meal)
Even slightly sooty on nose. Delicate spicy, beautiful texture, silky tannins
Bit more ripe/Jamy than above - also bit too spicy Good