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 Rhone White Blends
White Rhone blends consist of two or more white grapes from its namesake region. This includes Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. Other white grapes may be included in miniscule amounts, but the above four are the principles. In the Rhone, Viognier is typically alone in the Northern Rhone and absent in the Southern Rhone, although, in the north, 20% of the variety can be blended into the predominant Syrah of Cote Rotie. Marsanne and Roussanne are two peas in pod - usually found together both in and outside of the Rhone region. Blends outside of the Rhone are mostly found in California and Australia and can include all of the four primary varieties together.
Notable Facts The whites blends of the Rhone are usually rich in fruit flavors and aromatics. Three of the primary grapes, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne are intense on aromatics & texture. The fourth primary grape used in the blend is Grenache Blanc, a fairly neutral grape with crisp acid & high sugars. Blending Grenache Blanc with the above three varieties helps the wine stand up in acid levels and ads a crispness to the texture. Flavors of white Rhone blends include spice, nut, honeysuckle and green apple.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Rhone, California, Australia, South Africa
Common Descriptors: honeysuckle, green apple, peach, nut, spice
Learn More About Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
(shah-too-NUHF due Pahp)
Southern Rhone's landmark region, Chateauneuf du Pape, was the first region to gain AC status in France. That was the 1920s – it's history goes much further back than that. As the name suggests, the wine region was named after the "new papal home," referring to the period of time in the 1300's when the pope resided in Avignon instead of Rome.
There are 13 allowed varieties in Chateauneuf du Pape (14 if you count Grenache Blanc separately from Grenache Noir). Grenache is the primary variety, followed by Syrah and Mourvedre as well as Cinsault. About 97% of the wines here are red, although many chateaux are producing whites ranging from quaffable to decadent and ageworthy. Reds from the best estates emit wonderful flavors of gamey spice, blackberries and currant, as well as the herbs and spices that are known to grow in the region.
Note on the soil: The grapes grow on soils covered in rounded, smooth stones called galets (gah-lay). The stones naturally cover most of the soils throughout Chateauneuf du Pape and are two fold in their duties. First, they are able to reflect and absorb the heat, to quicken the ripening of the grapes. They also help to hold in moisture so that the soils are not dried out by the hot Southern French sun.