In Part 1 of my Tasting at M. Chapoutier, I introduced you to the winery and my view standing on the Hermitage hill overlooking other surround appellations. It was an excellent tour of the Hermitage vineyard, followed by an extensive tasting of their wines. In Part 1, I gave you my tasting notes about Chapoutier’s Tradition level of wines. And now for Part 2, where I will reveal Fac et Spera, talk about Braille, and give you my tasting notes for the Prestige and Fac & Spera levels of wines from M. Chapoutier. If you have not read Part 1, here is the link (A Tasting at M. Chapoutier Part 1).
What is Fac et Spera?
Fac et Spera is M. Chapoutier’s motto. In English it translates to “Do and Hope“. For Michel Chapoutier, the Fac & Spera level is for single vineyard old vines that produce exceptional wines. His philosophy is to let the soil speak, and to help allow the soil to speak, biodynamics becomes very important. M. Chapoutier is a doer, doing what he believes will make the best wines from his vineyards. The “hope” or “belief” part, I think comes from believing that what you are doing will be successful.
Braille on Chapoutier’s Wine Bottles
You may not know this, but there is Braille lettering on all of Chapoutier’s bottles of wine. Chapoutier started making Braille from their Monier de la Sizeranne vineyard, which was founded originally by the Sizeranne family. One of the family was a blind, Maurice de La Sizeranne. Mr Maurice de La Sizeranne was the founder and President of the French Association for the Blind and also developed an abbreviated version of braille. You can read more about the Chapoutier family here.
Prestige Level Tasting Notes
Chante-Alouette, Hermitage, 2007. I don’t know about you, but I learned this song in elementary school (Here is a link to the lyrics for Chante-Alouette). I asked about why this wine had this name. I think it came down to a good marketing label. This wine is made from 100% Marsanne grapes. 40% of this wine is aged in 2-3 year old French oak barrels. Very deep golden colour. Light ripe fruit and raisin aromas. Full body with ripe peaches, honey and spice. Long length. Nice mouth feel and balance with medium acidity.
Monier de la Sizeranne, Hermitage, 2007. This is 100% Shiraz that is fermented in open wooden vats. Three vineyards within the Hermitage hill go to make this wine; “les Bessards” made from granite which they say forms the soul of a good Hermitage wine, “le Meal” which is alluvial terraces with gravels and pebbles which are more or less chalk, and “les Greffieux” which is limon with rolled stones. ‘Limon’ soil is soil deposited after the last Ice Age. It is stoneless and extremely fertile. Deep ruby colour in the glass. Medium intensity nose with cassis aroma. Medium plus body with cassis up front flavour and apples and cherries popping up in mid palate. Round with medium acidity. Soft, round mouthfeel with a dry finish. This wine has 15+ years of aging potential.
Invitare, Condrieu, 2009. Invitare is made from 100% Viognier. The Condrieu appellation where the grapes are from only produces wine from Viognier. No red wines in Condrieu. 30% of this wine is aged in oak barrels. The wine also goes through a malolactic fermentation (MLF) to give it more roundness. Deep golden in the glass with a very fruity nose of oranges and honey. Round, medium body with cinnamon and orange flavours. Medium minus acidity. Round in the mouth, thanks to the MLF. A bit of spice on the finish. An excellent wine, but drink it young, no longer than 3 years of aging potential.
Les Becasses, Côte-Rôtie, 2007. Les Becasses means a “grouse”, which is a type of bird. It could be that wild grouse are found in this area of Côte-Rôtie? Côte-Rôtie means “roasted slope” in French. This hill slope, just like Hermitage, produces exceptional wines due to it’s exposure to the sun, the slope of the land, and soil type. Côte-Rôtie produces primarily Syrah, but also grows Viognier which can be co-fermented with the Syrah for added colour extraction and to add some perfumed flowery notes to the Syrah. This particular wine is 100% Syrah. As I spoke with my wine guide, Sam, he mentioned that there are two parts to Côte-Rôtie. Côte Brune “brown slope” in the north on dark made of iron-rich schist and Côte Blonde composed of granite and schist soil. The grapes for Les Becasses comes from the Côte Brune area. This wine was deep ruby in colour. A very interesting nose with some meatiness, minerality and blueberries. Full body, round and heavy in your mouth. Soft tannins and bursting with blueberry flavour. Dry puckering long finish.
Les Arènes, Cornas, 2007. This is another wonderful Syrah from the tiny Cornas appellation. I read on Wikipedia that Cornas is Celtic for “burnt earth”, so similar to the “roasted slope” of Côte-Rôtie. Medium to dark ruby in the glass. A very nice nose with mint, crushed herbs, olives and dark fruit. Full body with blueberry and dark fruit flavours. Medium acidity and tannins. Long soft finish. I really like this wine, and bought a bottle to take home.
Fac & Spera Level Tasting Notes
The wines from the Fac & Spera level come from single vineyards (except for the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which is always a blend), to fully express the terroir for each wine.
Les Greffieux, Hermitage, 2008. Les Greffieux is 100% Syrah. As I mentioned earlier in my article, some of the grapes from this vineyard are used for the Monier de la Sizeranne, so you get to taste some of the terroir in this wine from Les Greffieux. All grapes for this wine are hand harvested and are then vinified in a neutral cement vat. Only the free-run juice is used for this wine. The wine is aged in barrel, with 1/3 in new casks and the other having one or two previous vintages. They use a natural clarification process and do not filter the wine. This wine was between light and medium garnet in colour. Ripe cassis, a bit of black pepper and oak on the nose. Full body, round with medium aciidty. Ripe cherries and black pepper flavours. Dry with a long finish. I have been told that this wine can be kept for 30 to 60 years!
De l’Orée, Hermitage, 2008. This wine is made from Marsanne grapes grown by 60-70 year old vines. The actual plot for this wine is called “Les Murets” and is composed of very old fluvioglacial alluvial deposits that face east, getting the morning sun. The grapes for this wine are hand harvested. About half the grapes are vinified in large wooden barrels with regular lees stirring and the rest fermented in vats. The wine matures on lees with stirrings for 6 months. Maturation is between 10 and 12 months. Very deep golden honey in colour. Lemon and honey aromas in the glass. Full body, round mouth feel, with medium acidity and lemon and honey flavours. Long length. A very elegant wine. This is another wine that can age 30 to 60 years!
If you ever have a chance to travel to France, I highly recommend visiting M. Chapoutier. They have a wide range of wines at various price points and length to drinkability. Buy some for immediate pleasure, and some for special occasions in your life in the future. Enjoy!