The charming and ebullient Michel Chapoutier, the legendary Rhône producer, has just released his 2020 Sélections Parcellaires, his single vineyard wines, and we were very privileged to attend a tasting with him in London this week. At the risk of sounding clichéd, both the reds and whites were amazing!
Chapoutier is incredibly enthusiastic, and loves to talk in great depth about a great many things when it comes to his wines and wine making techniques. His opening gambit was that he doesn't try to make the best wine possible, but instead to reflect the best expression of his terroir!
He moved on to say that 2020, a dry, warm vintage, had very similar conditions to those of 2003, a vintage which he freely admitted was pretty awful, with short, bitter wines. However, we were regaled with a lengthy and technical discourse on how his vines have adapted to the changing climate in the intervening years, due largely to the enormous efforts made in biodynamics and non-interventionist techniques in the vineyard. The result is that the grapes produced were more in the character of a cool climate vintage. The proof is in the pudding, of course, and the wines he presented are utterly delicious, exhibiting no signs of heat, and in contrast having remarkable freshness and length!
Currently there is no official classification of ‘Grand Cru’ in the Rhône, but Chapoutier has been at the forefront of a movement to focus in on the very best terroir, and pay extra attention to the best lieux-dit or named individual vineyards which express these, as if they were indeed Grand Cru. His Sélections Parcellaires are each from individual vineyards that showcase the best of the Northern Rhone, and a few vineyards form further afield.
All of Chapoutier's 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. Chapoutier's commitment to this rather radical style of organic farming, and his dedication to allowing the wines to express themselves as they are, with no artifice in the wine making, results in outstanding wines that are in a class of their own.
Don't miss these extraordinary wines!
2020 Hermitage Les Greffieux Rouge, Chapoutier
Bottles @ £515 per 6 Magnums @ £520 per 3
Les Greffieux is located at the foot of the Hermitage hill, on a glacial alluvial deposit terrace composed of shingles and clay. The vines here are over 50-year-old, creating powerful wines. This vintage bursts with notes of ripe fruits underpinned by a hint of mocha. Lively on the palate with an exceptional concentration and freshness on the finish.
2020 Hermitage Le Méal Rouge, Chapoutier
Bottles @ £900 per 6 Magnums @ £908 per 3
From a hillside plot located at 150-200 metres altitude, planted on shingle and clay terraces where the average age of vines is over 50 years. This 2.2 ha vineyard produces perfumed wines with great ageing potential. The 2020 exudes ripe notes of blackberry coulis, spice with just a hint of smoke. Full-bodied and mouthwatering palate, with creamy tannins and remarkable balance.
2020 Hermitage Le Pavillon Rouge, Chapoutier
Bottles @ £1,105 per 6 Magnums @ £1,115 per 3
A wine that doesn’t need an introduction – now a world-famous top wine from Michel’s 4ha ‘Les Bessards’ vineyard of 65-year-old Syrah, at the top of the Hermitage hill. Le Pavillon 2020 vintage shows intense notes of graphite, violets and spice on the nose, followed by luxurious tannic structure and a sapid, incredibly persistent finish on the palate.
2020 Hermitage L'Ermite Rouge, Chapoutier
Bottles @ £1,230 per 6 Magnums @ £1,240 per 3
The jewel in the M. CHAPOUTIER crown! 3ha plot at the top of the Hermitage hill where the vines are over 80-year-old, planted on poor granitic soils. ‘L’Ermite’ produces a powerful, complex wine full of dark fruit, spice and ink characters, with silky tannins and notes of smoke and pepper. The most elegant and aromatic Hermitage in the range. The 2020 vintage reveals a taut and direct wine with a flavoursome, chiselled palate with notes of peony and smoke, and an exceptional length.
- "Marsanne just doesn’t get any better than what’s put into his le Meal, l’Ermite and de L’Orée cuvees." -
2020 Ermitage Le Méal Blanc, Chapoutier
Bottles@ £725 per 6 Magnums@ £735 per 3
‘Le Méal’ is a 2ha parcel of old Marsanne vines – some more than 50-year-old, with very low yields. Planted on fluvioglacial alluvial deposit soil with large pebbles that help to warm the soil and retain heat, contributing to the good ripening of the grapes. The 2020 vintage shows powerful notes of quince and white flowers. The palate is creamy and mineral, with persistent finish dominated by notes of sweet spice and candied fruit
2020 Ermitage de l'Orée Blanc, Chapoutier
Bottles@ £770 per 6 Magnums@ £775 per 3
This 3.5ha ‘Les Murets’ vineyard lies in one of the world-famous appellations. Marsanne from 60-70-year-old vines planted on very old fluvioglacial alluvial soils creates a generous, multifaceted beauty here. Delicate notes of yellow fruit and honeysuckle evolve towards aromas of roasted corn. The palate is full-bodied and energetic with lingering notes of aniseed on the finish. Outstanding wine with a great potential for ageing.
2020 Ermitage L'Ermite, Chapoutier
Bottles@ £1,780 per 6 Magnums@ £1,790 per 3
‘L’Ermite’ is just under 0.5ha plot planted with the oldest Marsanne in the estate, where some of the vines are over 100-year-old, with very low yield. The vineyard sits at the top of the Hermitage hill, on poor granitic and shallow soils. From here hails this top Hermitage white with notes of honeysuckle and lemon zest, pure and remarkably well-crafted palate. A very enticing wine with incredible potential.
2020 Saint-Joseph Les Granits Rouge
Bottles @ £220 per 6 Magnums @ £225 per 3
This 2.5ha Syrah vineyard is planted on poor, granitic soil in the heart of SaintJoseph appellation. The harshness of the soil makes vines work extra hard, delivering long-lived, structured wines. The 2020 vintage displays intense nose with violet and black pepper aromas. The palate is taut, dense and elegant.
2020 Saint-Joseph Les Clos Rouge
Bottles @ £475 per 6 Magnums @ £485 per 3
One of the top wines from Saint-Joseph, Le Clos is made from a 0.98ha Syrah vineyard planted on coarse black mica granite. This vintage has distinctive notes of blueberry and graphite on the nose with full-bodied palate with elegant tannins and notes of sweet spice on the finish. A wonderful expression of this plot.
2020 Saint-Joseph Les Granits Blanc
Bottles@ £225 per 6 Magnums@ £235 per 3
100% Marsanne from a 2ha vineyard planted on very steep, poor, stony granitic soil that gives this wine its mineral notes. Aromas of crushed stone and matches combine with slightly caramelised yellow stone fruit. Velvety smooth with good acidity, remarkably pure and promising wine from the northernmost appellation of the Rhône.
2020 Côte-Rôtie La Mordorée Rouge
Bottles @ £475 per 6 Magnums @ £485 per 3
This wine is made from a 3ha plot planted on very steep, terraced slope, with vines over 70-year-old that produce tiny yields. The 2020 vintage exudes notes of black fruit and bacon. The palate is fresh and delicate with silky tannins and a long, mouth-watering finish.
2020 Côte-Rôtie Neve Rouge
Bottles @ £555 per 6 Magnums @ £565 per 3
1.5ha single vineyard Syrah from the ‘roasted vineyards’ of Côte-Rôtie planted on schist and mica soils. This wine’s spicy and floral notes result in a more direct expression of this hillside’s composition. The 2020 shows an incredible aromatic freshness. The juicy character on entry gives way to a dense, chiselled mid-palate, with notes of blueberry and cornflower on the finish. A simply outstanding wine from this vintage!
Chateauneuf Du Pape
2020 Chateauneuf Du Pape Barbe Rac Rouge
Bottles @ £290 per 6 Magnums @ £295 per 3
From an ancient, 90-year-old 4ha terraced vineyard planted on red clay and ferruginous sand soil covered by large galettes - typical round pebbles of the region. This vineyard produces some of the finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. 2020 is a spicy and complex wine dominated by aromas of ripe black fruit. Well structured wine, underpinned by subtle notes of cocoa and graphite. The zesty and persistent finish adds to the wine’s impressive stature.
2020 Chateauneuf Du Pape Croix de Bois Rouge
Bottles @ £290 per 6 Magnums @ £295 per 3
From a plot near town of Bedarrides, from vineyard covered in large round pebbles over sandy red clay. Planted on slightly higher altitude than Barbe Rac, wine from this plot is known for its great structure and intensity. 2020 is a remarkably elegant wine with enticing notes of crushed raspberries and orange peel, and delicate palate with rosewater notes on the finish.
- Large formats for all are available on request -
This week we had the opportunity to taste the extraordinary new release from Gaja - the 2018 Barbaresco - with Gaia Gaja at Maccelaio restaurant in London. The wine was absolutely stunning and this came as no surprise, as Gaja decided to include all of their famed single vineyard juice (from Sori San Lorenzo, Sori Tildin & Costa Russi) into their estate Barbaresco. Perfumed, complex and with such beautiful finesse and elegance, it was simply a joy to taste. 'The hallmark of the Gaja estate, the Barbaresco is sourced from 14 vineyards within Barbaresco and Treiso. For the 2018 vintage, there will be no single cru bottlings for Barbaresco' Jeb Dunnuck Gaja Barbaresco has an extraordinary track record and this is a wine that the family have been making since 1859. It is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the families various vineyards located in the municipality of Barbaresco. The winery was founded in 1859 in Langhe, Piedmont by Giovanni Gaja and it is his great grandson, Ang
Piedmont is famous for its Nebbiolo-based wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, but we don't always want to (or can afford to!) drink these big wines on an everyday basis. When it comes to finding something approachable in its youth, but can age for a decade, I often turn to Barbera. Not only does the Barbera grape offer something different with unique aromatics and flavours, it's a style of wine that offers amazing value for money! We are therefore delighted to offer a parcel of the outstanding 2017 Barbera d'Alba 'Vigna Vecchia' Scarrone from the legendary Vietti estate. 'The 2017 Barbera d'Alba Vigna Vecchia Scarrone is positively gorgeous' Antonio Galloni The vineyard is located in the Scarrone area, from the oldest portion of the vineyard, facing the south-east. The yields are naturally low due to the age of the vines, and they are further reduced by a strict selection of the grapes. We recently tasted a bottle and it is an absolute gem of a wine