1989 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon

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Wine Critic Reviews for 1989 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon

The 1989 Le Pavilion is a prodigious wine. Made from yields of 14 hectoliters per hectare, this parcel of old vines (averaging 70-80 years of age) has produced an opaque black/purple-colored wine, with a hauntingly stunning bouquet of violets, cassis, minerals, and new oak. In the mouth, the similarity in texture, richness, and perfect balance to the compelling 1986 Mouton-Rothschild is striking, only this wine is richer and longer. This extraordinarily well-balanced wine will probably not be ready to drink for at least 5-10 years, but it will evolve for three decades or more. It is an enormous yet amazingly well-delineated wine. I lament the fact that there are only 600 cases of this magnificent wine. This great Hermitage was the first of a trilogy (1989, 1990, and 1991) of exquisite Le Pavillons. Last tasted 12/95.

Robert Parker | 100 RP
The 1989 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon was incredibly intense and powerful. Made in a dark, somewhat alcoholic style, it came across as dark, rich and totally seductive in its expression of dark fruit, flowers and cassis.

Vinous Media | 95 VM

Wine Details on 1989 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon

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Producer M. Chapoutier: There is something special about a winemaker who claims, “I fall head over heels every day of my life.” Michel Chapoutier is a wine lover, a life lover. Whether it is a book, a painting or wine, Michel Chapoutier falls in love ten times per day. This passion is conveyed through his artistic and affectionate approach at the multitude of endeavors he undertakes daily. He is unique, unconventional, curious, enthusiastic and selfless. A farmer who is close to the earth on a quest for revealing terroirs and finding the expressions of soils through the taste of wines.

Chapoutier is one of the most recognized and respected names in Rhone. Though the premises in Tain l’Hermitage has been in existence since 1808, it was the mind and extraordinary efforts of Michel Chapoutier that have catapulted the quality of wines bearing his family name to elite status. Since taking over the business in 1989, he has been quite “disruptive,” given his inability to conform to principals of the past and preconceived ideas which allowed a temporary demise of the estate in the late 1980’s. Upon taking control he immediately implemented changes that would challenge traditional winemaking, sourcing of grapes and the terroir in which to plant. He would also implement biodynamic and organic harvesting.

He is a firm believer that winemaking begins with respect. Respect for the terroir, the unique equation between soil, climate, and human talent. Respect for the earth by anticipating its needs, for the plant and fruit until the harvest and for the consumers whether they are connoisseurs or not. He insists that without respect, wine has no soul. His respectful and generous personality is a welcome and refreshing trademark that is well known by colleagues.

Chapoutier believes that without generosity, the creation of wine would be senseless, for wine is meant to be shared. Generosity is a form of expression that encourages, initiates and dares, enriching the wine when consumed. An example of this generosity can be witnessed simply by looking at the label, which is inscribed with braille. Since 1996, every bottle of M. Chapoutier has been imprinted with braille; paying tribute to the man responsible for its invention, Maurice Monier de la Sizeranne who is also the founder of Valentin Hauy Association. This extraordinary and unprecedented feat by Monier helped bring the blind and visually challenged out of isolation. One of Chapoutier’s labels even carries his name which is produced from a plot which Monier’s father owned, who was a vintner himself. This is Chapoutier’s way of giving back to someone who made a real contribution.

Chapoutier is not only a grower, but a negociant who has diligently pursued the best terroirs in not only Hermitage but other Rhone appellations including Roussillon, Cotes-Du-Rhone, and Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and has extended his influence to terroir hotspots around the globe including, Portugal, Australia, Alsace and Spain. Through his extensive efforts, Chapoutier is now able to offer a wine at nearly every price range from inexpensive Cotes-Du-Rhones to his beloved single vineyard plot selections from his own estate.

Though Chapoutier produces wines which blend varieties such as his Cotes-Du-Rhones, he is a proponent of single varietal bottlings, insisting that blending does not necessarily develop complexity but instead gives credit to the soil structure, whether it is the acidity or the bacterial levels. For instance, his highly coveted single vineyard whites such as Le Meal and Les Greffieux are both 100% Marsanne. He prefers not to use or include Roussanne due to its sensitivity to oxidation, as he wishes his wines to age. His preference of Burgundy and how complex and elegant the wine is able to be fashioned with a single variety is much more impressive than the wines of Bordeaux, he insists. Chapoutier has implemented this ideal in many of his estate wines with great success including his 100% Syrah L’Ermite and Le Pavillon,

Chapoutier produces an astonishing portfolio of wines that encompasses some of the greatest terroir in the world, from Hermitage to Chateauneuf-Du-Pape, Australia to Portugal. The multitude of varieties planted are both impressive and too long to list. However, if a label carries the M. Chapoutier name, it is guaranteed to be of tremendous quality whether it is found on the bottom rack in a wine shop or acquired by collectors through auction. Each bottling is sure to be an expression of passion, generosity and an unrivaled respect for the land where the grapes are born and bred with love. A love that is meant to be shared and enjoyed.
Region Rhone: While the Northern Rhone produces only about 5% of all wine coming out of the Rhone Valley, the quality of these bottles is not to be underestimated. The terroir in this region is heavenly for growing Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne or Rousanne - the only permitted grapes in the AOC. Picture this - the Rhone flows through the valley like an azure thread piercing the landscape, a reflection of the dreamy skies hovering above the vineyards, ready to produce rainfall at a moment's notice. The rocky soil of the steep, almost surreal hillsides provides a bountiful feast for the grapevine roots. The flavors and texture of Northern Rhone wines tell you everything you need to know as soon as your lips touch the elixir, like a whisper in the vigorous valley winds

As per the Southern Rhone wine, it is like taking a plunge into a whirlpool of juicy flavor. Every sip explodes forward like a crashing tsunami, bathing your tastebuds in delicious aromas of prune, chocolate, grass, and black fruit. The wines are so compelling that it can be hard to drink them casually at a social event without getting lost in their intricate textures and emotional depths. Let's set sail together, and drink deep from these luxurious bottles with our friends and loved ones.
Country France: Words fail us when trying to adequately portray France's place in the world of wine. It's downright impossible to imagine what wine would feel and taste like had it not been for France's many, many viticultural pioneers. Fine wine is the blood of France's vigorously beating heart, and it finds itself in many aspects of French culture. With a viticultural history that dates all the way back to the 6th century BC, France now enjoys its position as the most famous and reputable wine region on the planet. If you have a burning passion for masterfully crafted, mouth-watering, mind-expanding wines, then regular visits to France are probably already in your schedule, and for a good reason.
Type of Wine Hermitage: Hermitage provides a bouquet of scents and flavors with a texture that cannot be fully deciphered. Expect to be blown away by an orchestral composition of primal blackberries and black raspberries, earthy minerals, playful spice and a thick bassline of smoke. Their immense aging potential makes them ideal candidates for hoarding in your cellar!
Varietal Shiraz/Syrah: Something magical occurred when two ancient French grapes procreated and the varietal of Syrah entered the world of winegrowing. The exact time period of its inception is still undetermined; however, the origin of Syrah’s parentage confirms it was birthed in the Rhone Valley. DNA testing performed by UC Davis has indicated that Syrah is the progeny of the varietals Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, both of Rhone origin. Syrah dominates its native homeland of Northern Rhone and has become one of the most popular grape varietals in the world.

Syrah, Shiraz and Petite Sirah have often been confused and misunderstood, some consumers believing them to all be the same grape, while others thinking the opposite. Petite Sirah is actually the offspring of Syrah and Peloursin and though related, is an entirely different grape variety. Its official name is Durif, for the name of the French nurseryman who first propagated the varietal in the 1880s; it is called Petite Sirah in California (due to the resemblance of Syrah, but smaller berries). Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. Producers in Australia have been labelling Syrah as “Shiraz” since James Busby first introduced the varietal to the continent. The Scottish viticulturist brought Syrah from France to Australia in the middle of the 18th century and labelled the cuttings as “Sycras” and “Ciras,” which may have led to the naming. Most California vintners label their bottlings as Syrah and of course in French style and tradition, the name of the village or area the grape is cultivated dictates the label name.

The Syrah grape is at home in Northern Rhone where the climate is cool and the terroir is filled with gravel, schist, limestone, iron, granite and sandy soils. It thrives on rocky, hilly terrain with a southern exposure, due to its need for sunlight. Syrah is a very vigorous grape with a spreading growth habit. The berries are small to medium oval shaped blue-black and tend to shrivel when ripe.

Today, Syrah is one of the most popular and widely planted grape varietals in the world, covering almost 190,000 hectares across the earth’s surface. It is the only red grape variety permitted by AOC regulations in the appellations of Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, where it has breathed life into some of the most tremendous wines on the planet. Languedoc-Roussilon has the most surface area planted in France with 43,200 hectares dedicated to Syrah. The varietal is used for blending in Southern Rhone, Provence and even Bordeaux. Syrah has spread worldwide from Australia to California and South Africa to Spain creating the ‘New World’ hype of the varietal. Since the 1990’s, Syrah winegrowing and production has increased exponentially; for example, in 1958 there were a mere 2,000 hectares planted in France. By 2005 that number increased to over 68,000 hectares and today it is well over 70,000. The same holds true for California, Australia and other ‘New World’ producers that have jumped “all in.” World-wide there are approximately 190,000 hectares of Syrah currently being cultivated.

The allure of Syrah has taken the world by storm, but is important to note where the hype began. Long before Syrah was being stamped with ‘New World’ or of ‘cult status,’ the tremendous quality of Hermitage was being written about in Thomas Jefferson’s diary. Today, the grape variety can be grown, fashioned, named and enjoyed in a myriad of ways, but the quality of Syrah grape remains the same – incredible.

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