One of my overall favourite wineries in the world is M. Chapoutier. Like Domaine Huet, that I wrote about earlier, M. Chapoutier, is also a biodynamic winery. I arrived at the winery around 10:30am. Already hot and sunny in the Rhone Valley. I was met by Mr. Samuel “Sam” Boissy. To better understand the wines I would soon be tasting, Sam took me into Chapoutier’s Hermitage vineyards.
For those that are Rhone Valley wine fans, the Hermitage hillside is very well known. Starting at the bottom of the hill, Sam picked up some soil which was sediments and described the vines growing here and the Syrah wines that are produced from this particular terroir. We then slowly made our ascent part way up the hill, again stopping to see how the soil has changed to granite soil, and again stopping further up the hill to see again the change in soil. Each type of soil, each terroir, does affect the flavours and structure and longevity of the wines produced there.
Chapoutier’s Range of Wines
Chapoutier’s range of wines are grouped into four quality levels:
- 2 entry levels known as “Découverte” and “Tradition“,
- an intermediate level known as “Prestige“, and
- the top level, which is “Fac & Spera“.
I tried both white and red wines from Tradition, Prestige and Fac & Spera.
What is Fac et Spera?
In part, Fac & Spera is a premium level of wines from Chapoutier. But there is more, which I will discuss in Part 2 of my Chapoutier tasting.
A Quick Outline of Vineyard Appellations around Hermitage
As I stood halfway up the Hermitage hill, and faced southwest, Sam, outlined to me the Appellations I was viewing. Furthest south was Saint-Peray, and then moving northward toward me is the tiny Cornas, and finally the south end of Saint-Joseph.
On the flatter area where you see the town of Tain is Crozes-Hermitage. Crozes-Hermitage goes around the east side and the north side of Hermitage. Chapoutier has Rhone vineyards in Saint-Joseph, Saint-Peray, Crozes-Hermitage, Gigondas, Cotes-du-Rhone, Coteaux du Tricastin, Tavel, Condrieu, Cote-Rotie, Cornas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rasteau, Luberon, and of course Hermitage.
Tradition Level Tasting Notes
- Les Tanneurs, Saint-Peray, 2010. This is a white wine, primarily made from the Marsanne grape. The grapes come from two different types of terroir: limestone soils for freshness, and granitic soils to give mineral aromas. This wine had apple and light oak on the nose. Medium body. Round and dry with apple, slight spice / cinnamon and pears. Medium length with some almond flavour. Elegant.
- Deschants (Marsanne), Saint-Joseph, 2009. Deep golden, beautiful colour in the nice. Very nice nose with peaches and flowers. Medium plus body and good acidity, and flavours of peaches, orange and citrus. Also a vein of minerality in this wine. Very refreshing. Medium length. I liked this wine a lot.
- Deschants (Syrah), Saint-Joseph, 2009. Medium ruby in the glass. Aromas with a bit of tarriness and ripe cherries. A brooding nose. Medium plus body with dark fruit. Medium acidity and tannins. Dry finish with a long length.
- Petite Ruche (Marsanne), Crozes-Hermitage, 2010. Petite Ruche means “small bees nest” in French. I’m not sure of the meaning for the label, but it could be that the area has the shape of a bees nest. If you know, let me know. Deep golden in colour. Light aromas. Some flowers, citrus and oranges. Medium body and length. Round mouthfeel with flavours of apple and citrus.
- Petite Ruche (Syrah), Crozes-Hermitage, 2009. Deep purple in the glass with lots of cassis aromas. Medium acidity and body. Lots of ripe cassis and blueberry flavours. Dry finish. Very nice!
I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about Chapoutier and their Tradition level of wines. In Part 2, I will let you know more interesting details about Chapoutier and some of their higher levels of wines which I tried. Enjoy!