The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: M. Chapoutier and…M. Chapoutier!

Posted on | October 5, 2015 | Written by Crystal Edgar | No Comments

Crystal 2014Once again I look to France’s Rhône Valley for my wine picks this week, putting my eye on the prized bottlings of the masterful Chapoutier estate. Chapoutier is one of the oldest names in the Rhône, founded in 1808 by the Calvet family and sold later to the Chapoutier family in 1855. Polydore Chapoutier was the first generation of the family to take on the reigns and the only one not to have his first name start with the letter M. Today, Chapoutier remains as one of the leading producers based at the foot of the hill of Hermitage (which was at one time known as “Ermitage,” its original spelling) consistently offering out some of the region’s most compelling wines, the best being the wines released from single vineyard bottlings from Hermitage.

Unlike Burgundy and Bordeaux, the Rhône does not have an official classification system; however, there are some very special leux-dits or “named areas” that denote vineyard sites and plots within each appellation. Chapoutier owns some of the most famous plots in the region including a generous piece of land within the prized Hermitage appellation where they practice organic and biodynamic farming. I’m focusing on Le Meal, a specific plot within Hermitage with vines aging up to 90 years. Le Meal is also the warmest terroir in the appellation, which is one key factor in the character and ripeness of the wine. These wines are only produced in minute quantities, around 400 cases for the white and red wines.

M. Chapoutier 2006 Ermitage Le Meal $180.70

A rich, rustic display of Syrah, this Le Meal plot shows intense red fruit character with remarkable acidity for such a warm site. This 2006 is remarkably balanced and can go for the long haul if you have the patience. This wine is perfect match for rich game and braised meats.

M. Chapoutier 2010 Ermitage Blanc Le Meal $225

100% Marsanne, this very unique and rich white is one of the greatest hits from Chapoutier. The wine bears a bright golden hue with flavors of stone fruit, gala apples and plenty of minerals. Marsanne packs a punch, but this is one of the most elegant yet complex expressions of the grape I have tasted.

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