TN Best of Hermitage

The SW-facing legendary hill of Hermitage with just 140ha of vineyards rises above the town of Tain l’Hermitage in Northern Rhone and is dominated by the holdings of M. Chapoutier and Paul Jaboulet Aine.

Their flagship Le Pavillon and La Chapelle are arguably the best Syrah expressions on the planet. These 2 names are equally important to the world of wine as, for example, Classified 1st Growths of left bank in Bordeaux.

We were privileged to taste and compare
2004 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon Hermitage (95+)
2007 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle (92)

We kicked off with 2007 Delas Frères Crozes-Hermitage Le Clos (91+) to calibrate our palates.
This is a single vineyard cuvée. 100% Syrah grapes come from a "Clos", located on the "Les Chassis" plain, on the left bank of the Rhône river. Tiny production of 3-7K bottles only in best vintages.
Aromas of stewed black fruits with hints of leather and game. Well balanced with lighter body. Wine was at its peak and showed almost on par with Hermitage.
Delas now owned by Louis Roederer

Both Le Pavillon and La Chapelle were uncorked 10 hours in advance and poured in carafe 2 hours prior to serving to give them some air & open up a little bit.

Le Pavillon which was unanimously voted as the wine of the tasting showed high level of concentration. Still on a primary fruit stage, but already developing more complex aromas. Bouquet of black & red very ripe fruits seasoned with white pepper, touch of smoked meat and layers of leather and vivid stone minerality. Fruit comes exclusively from own biodynamically cultivated 4ha plot of Les Bessards climat on the top of the hill (344m) famous for its granite soils.
Winemaking: 70yo vines, destemmed, vinified in small oak vat, aged 18-20mo in 30% new oak barriques, unfiltered.

La Chapelle was still at its infancy. Very juicy and youthful with green tannins. Hints of chocolate, licorice.
Blend of 2 climats: Les Bessards & the limestone of Le Méal also converted to biodynamics in 2006. Incredibly low yields of 15-20 hl/ha. Aged in French 20% new oak.

All wines paired nicely with 40 days dry aged steak served medium-rare.

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The SW-facing legendary hill of Hermitage with just 140ha of vineyards rises above the town of Tain l’Hermitage in Northern Rhone and is dominated by the holdings of M. Chapoutier and Paul Jaboulet Aine.

Their flagship Le Pavillon and La Chapelle are arguably the best Syrah expressions on the planet.
What about JL Chave?!
 
Chave's 15 hectares, spread across all the very best climats, are hardly insignificant. There are only 120 ha in total.

Jaboulet has 6.8 ha in Le Meal, and 2.6 ha in Bessards, with much smaller areas in some other climats. Overall, about the same as Chave. Chapoutier has either 26 ha, or 31ha (sources differ).

I respectfully disagree that Chapoutier and Jaboulet between them "dominate" the 120 ha of Hermitage.
 
Actually I'm not sure about Chave in this mid-nougties period either: it was a little too international when Chave fils shifted a little bit to the dark side.
 
Thanks for the report. Haven’t tasted a Chapoutier or Jaboulet of recent vintage for years. I’m glad if people think these two domains the heights of Syrah. Leaves the good stuff for the rest of us.
 
Chapoutier's '88 Cote Rotie was stunning back in 2017 but haven't drink any of their Hermitage ever so far as I recall. That said I have a case of 2013 Pavillon in storage, an impulse purchase a couple of years ago.
 
‘96 Chapoutier Pavillon has been great since 2013, probably time for me to open another bottle soon.

I think your post supports my belief that the Chapoutier Ermitage wines require decades to come into their own. I wonder if any of the rest of us have experience with 1990s Ermitage? Keith?
 
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