No name is more closely associated with the greatness of the Rhône valley than M. Chapoutier.
The history of the Chapoutier family stretches back to the early nineteenth century when current owner Michel Chapoutier’s great-, great-, great-grandfather Marius purchased an estate and some vineyards in the now famous village of Tain l’Hermitage in the Northern Rhône Valley. Marius Chapoutier made history in the region when he became the first grape grower there to vinify his own fruit. Marius had tasted wines other winemakers produced using his fruit and he realized that something was lost in translation, so to speak. He knew that he owned some of the best growing sites in the appellation and he believed — rightly — that the grapes grown in his vineyards could produce long-lived world-class wines. In a move unusual at the time, he decided that he should make the wine himself. Not only did the quality of the wines increase greatly, but this move provided the capital to expand the Chapoutiers’ already legendary estate.
A visionary and pioneer in biodynamic winemaking, his restless energy and unconditional commitment to quality have produced tremendous success, with the most 90+ point ratings of all Rhône producers and 16 "100 point" rated wines.
Learn More About Syrah/Shiraz
(seh-RAH/shee-RAHZ) It's a Smokin' Grape Syrah and Shiraz - same grape, different name. It's a popular and adept variety, growing in multiple regions and creating many different styles of wine.
The home base of Syrah is the Northern Rhone, where it creates the exclusive wines of Hermitage and Cote Rotie. On the less pricy side, the Rhone makes Syrah-based wines in Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas and St. Joseph. Syrah made a big splash in Australia, where it's called Shiraz and reigns as the most planted grape of the country. Washington State, Southern and Central California, South Africa and South America are also making wines from Syrah that have substance and style.
Notable Facts Like many world-popular grapes, Syrah can differ in style depending on the climate, region and winemaking techniques. Typical aromas and flavors from most Syrah-based wines include pepper, blackberry and leather or smoke. Australian Shiraz and Central or Southern California Syrah tend to be more dense in fruit flavors, some even jammy - warmer climates lead to riper fruit flavors. Northern Rhone style typically shows more pepper and leather notes, with less upfront fruit. Washington State, South Africa and South America differ in style but usually show the range of Syrah flavors.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Rhone, Australia, California, Washington State, South Africa
Common Descriptors: pepper, blackberry, blueberry, jam, meat, smoke
Learn More About Hermitage, Rhone, France
(EHR-me-tahj) and Crozés-Hermitage (krohz EHR-me-tahj)
The hill of Hermitage is something to be seen. It is a hill (just one hill) of only about 300 acres, with carefully terraced vines in granite based-soil. The soils of the hill are plotted to make sure that the best variety is planted in the best plot of soil, and the wines reflect those decisions. The hill is spotted with signs from the top producers, like Chapoutier & Jaboulet.
Syrah is the only varietal permitted in the red wines, while whites are typically blends of both Marsanne and Roussanne. All three varieties grow on the Hermitage hill. The red wines of Hermitage are powerful, age-worthy wines, often commanding prices similar to those of top Bordeaux. They are big in fruit and tight in tannins, but with a few years of age (from three years to three decades) they are beautifully complex, perfumed and sensuous. Their whites are somewhat mineral-driven, and depending on the blend, may have an almost oily texture (in a good way!).
Like the island of Manhattan, once all the land of Hermitage is gone, the land is gone – hard to create sprawl from an already established hill. So winemakers planted in the vineyards surrounding Hermitage, in the much larger and flatter appellation of Crozés-Hermitage. The area produces wines of the same make-up of Hermitage – reds from Syrah, whites from Marsanne and Roussanne. Red wines are allowed up to 15% of the white varieties. Some of the reds are full of fruit flavor and ready to drink now, while others are trying to follow Hermitage, by making wines with lots of power and longevity. The whites are few, but enjoyable with good fruit and the same texture of those from Hermitage.