It is nearly impossible to discuss Rhone Valley wines without bringing up Michel Chapoutier’s name. He has become an ambassador for the Rhone Valley and a well-known figure in the international wine world. The Chapoutier family has ties to the Rhone Valley that date back over 200 years. Michel Chapoutier took over every aspect of the business in 1990 after a falling-out with his father. Since then, production and their vineyard holdings have increased dramatically, but Michel still insists on low yields and on making smaller quantities of truly great wines.
Michel Chapoutier was one of the pioneers of biodynamic viticulture practices. Biodynamics goes a step further than organic methods, using natural (and even mystical-seeming) techniques to guarantee the health of the vines and soil, and therefore the quality of the final product. Their motto, Fac & Spera – “do and hope,” in Latin—defines the property’s philosophy: to let the terroir define the characteristics of the wine.
His star bottlings are his single vineyard wines. These wines come from a just one sole vineyard site. The result is a wine that speaks of where it comes from: the rainfall that year, the sunshine, the slope of the hill, etc. Furthermore, none of these wines are blended; they are all single-varietal, which is unique for the Rhone Valley. Low yields give the wines intense, concentrated flavors, as do they age of the vines—some are over 50 years old. As they describe it, “It is a snapshot of a grape, in a certain year, in a given terroir.”
The Wines of Michel Chapoutier
- Crozes Hermitage – Les Meysonniers Blanc 2011
- Condrieu – Invitare 2011
- Hermitage – Chante Alouette 2012
- Cornas – Les Arènes 2010
- Cote Rotie – Les Becasses 2007
- Hermitage – Sizeranne 2011
“The 2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonnieres Blanc (100% Marsanne) is one of the finest examples I have tasted of this cuvee. It exhibits white peach, tangerine oil and wet stone notes as well as a steely, beautifully fruity, medium-bodied personality and more density and richness than usual.”
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92 Points, Wine Advocate
“Chapoutier’s 2011 Condrieu Invitare reveals lychee nuts, honeysuckle, buttered melon and nectarine notes in its rich, full-bodied personality. It is a noteworthy success in a vintage that was extremely strong for Condrieu.”Add to your collection
“A wine reviewed last year, the 2012 Hermitage Chante Alouette comes from three separate parcels on Hermitage Hill; Meal, Les Murets and Chante Alouette. I rated it identically this go around, but it’s such a fabulous wine I decided to include it again. White peach, white flowers, honeysuckle, brioche and tropical notes all emerge from this stunning white, and while it’s not cheap, it represents a smoking value. Don’t miss it.”
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93Points, Wine Spectator
“A warm, inviting style of Cornas, with ganache and smoldering tobacco holding sway while layers of currant paste, plum sauce and steeped cherry fruit sit in reserve. The tobacco edge drives on the finish, leaving a mouthwatering feel despite its weight. Best from 2013 through 2023.” Add to your collection
This vintage of Les Becasses opens with a slightly spicy noses with a slight floral backdrop and a hint of olives. The palate shows notes of leather, red cherry, and bright acidity.
“Moving to the reds, the 2011 Ermitage Monier de la Sizeranne doesn’t pull any punches and dishes up sexy, voluptuous levels of black cherries, raspberry, spice, dusty rock and crushed flowers. Medium to full-bodied, textured and with low acidity, it is distinctly delicious and hard to resist.”