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2010 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon

2010 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon

100 RP

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Featured Review
Tasting like the concentrated blood from an aged and grilled strip steak, the 2010 Ermitage Le Pavillon boasts a black/purple color along with creme de cassis, camphor, pen ink, white flower and lead pencil shaving characteristics in its massive, full-bodied personality. It almost defies description because of its ethereal concentration and off-the-charts extract levels. This is not for the faint of heart, or those who lack patience, as it will require 10-15 years of bottle age, and, as previously stated, will keep for 50 or more. There are just over 1,000 cases of the 2010 Le Pavillon, another perfect wine in the constellation of profound wines produced by Michel Chapoutier. In November of this year, Michel Chapoutier finally made the cover of The Wine Spectator. The accompanying article said essentially the same things I had written about over twenty years ago. More importantly, I am thrilled that Chapoutier received this attention because it has long been deserved. History will record that Michel Chapoutier is a revolutionary. He is also a highly emotional man whose infectious love of primitive art, historic books, classical music and, of course, terroir and winemaking are seemingly impossible to harness. Michel Chapoutier was among the first in France to embrace the radical biodynamic agricultural teachings, for which he was initially criticized, but is now praised. He was also the first to print all his labels in Braille, something that cynics considered to be a gimmick, but ask the National Association for the Blind what they think. Coming from a famous family, but moving in a direction unlike any of its previous members, Michel Chapoutier is self-taught. What he has accomplished over the last two decades or more is one of the great wine stories of the modern era. With all his outgoing, boisterous, machine-gun-speed prose that can sometimes sound shockingly cocky, and at other times reminiscent of the famous Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, there is never a dull moment around Chapoutier., who makes comments such as “Filtering wine is like making love with a condom,” and “Acidifying wine is like putting a suit of armor on the vineyard’s terroir, vintage character and the cepage.” Don’t blame him if his brilliant intellect and shocking vocabulary put his visitors on the defensive. Michel Chapoutier has proven through his genius, the faith of his convictions and backbreaking attention to detail in his vineyards and in the winery that a once moribund negociant (yet with significant vineyard holdings) could become a beacon of inspiration and quality for the entire world. In short, every wine consumer in the world should admire his accomplishments. All of Chapoutier’s lower level 2010 whites and basic reds have long been sold out, so to keep the tasting somewhat limited during my visit, we focused on the more recently released 2010 white and red selections parcellaires and nearly all the 2011s. As for the 2010 selection parcellaire whites, they are spectacular. Le Pavillon, once called Rochefine and owned by Jaboulet-Verchere, consists of 10 acres of pure granite in the famed Les Bessards, which is considered by many to be the single greatest terroir of Hermitage. The Ermitage Le Pavillon, which is meant to age for 50+ years, is Michel Chapoutier’s legacy, and he is confident that history will support his belief in this extraordinary wine. Michel Chapoutier is not alone in believing the 2011s may resemble a more modern day version of 1991. That vintage was largely underrated by just about everybody (except yours truly) because all the accolades and hyperbole were largely bestowed on both 1989 and 1990 (deservedly), but in the Northern Rhone 1991 turned out to be a strikingly superb vintage for Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and Condrieu. In the Southern Rhone, the vintage was largely a disaster. Following is an overview of what to expect with the inexpensive 2011 whites and reds. Most of these wines do not have the weight, power or tannic structure of the 2010s, but they are by no means diluted or wimpish wines. They tend to be charming, fruit-forward and seductive, and thus may be preferred by consumers looking for immediate gratification. Although the first few wines reviewed are Southern Rhones, they need to be covered because they are in bottle, and I did not review them in issue 203. Along with several other producers, Michel Chapoutier has helped increase the world’s attention to the long-forgotten, microscopic appellation of St.-Peray. Chapoutier produces a bevy of St.-Perays under his own name as well as in partnership with two three-star chefs, Sophie Pic, of the Restaurant Pic in Valence (as well as several culinary branches in Paris and Lausanne, Switzerland), and Yannick Alleno, the brilliant chef at the Hotel Le Meurice’s in Paris. The red 2011 selections parcellaires are already fruit-forward and seductive. Readers should love them as they are much more evolved than the more structured, powerful, dense, tannic 2010s. Robert Parker

Robert Parker | 100 RP

Critic Reviews

Tasting like the concentrated blood from an aged and grilled strip steak, the 2010 Ermitage Le Pavillon boasts a black/purple color along with creme de cassis, camphor, pen ink, white flower and lead pencil shaving characteristics in its massive, full-bodied personality. It almost defies description because of its ethereal concentration and off-the-charts extract levels. This is not for the faint of heart, or those who lack patience, as it will require 10-15 years of bottle age, and, as previously stated, will keep for 50 or more. There are just over 1,000 cases of the 2010 Le Pavillon, another perfect wine in the constellation of profound wines produced by Michel Chapoutier.

In November of this year, Michel Chapoutier finally made the cover of The Wine Spectator. The accompanying article said essentially the same things I had written about over twenty years ago. More importantly, I am thrilled that Chapoutier received this attention because it has long been deserved. History will record that Michel Chapoutier is a revolutionary. He is also a highly emotional man whose infectious love of primitive art, historic books, classical music and, of course, terroir and winemaking are seemingly impossible to harness. Michel Chapoutier was among the first in France to embrace the radical biodynamic agricultural teachings, for which he was initially criticized, but is now praised. He was also the first to print all his labels in Braille, something that cynics considered to be a gimmick, but ask the National Association for the Blind what they think. Coming from a famous family, but moving in a direction unlike any of its previous members, Michel Chapoutier is self-taught. What he has accomplished over the last two decades or more is one of the great wine stories of the modern era. With all his outgoing, boisterous, machine-gun-speed prose that can sometimes sound shockingly cocky, and at other times reminiscent of the famous Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, there is never a dull moment around Chapoutier., who makes comments such as “Filtering wine is like making love with a condom,” and “Acidifying wine is like putting a suit of armor on the vineyard’s terroir, vintage character and the cepage.” Don’t blame him if his brilliant intellect and shocking vocabulary put his visitors on the defensive. Michel Chapoutier has proven through his genius, the faith of his convictions and backbreaking attention to detail in his vineyards and in the winery that a once moribund negociant (yet with significant vineyard holdings) could become a beacon of inspiration and quality for the entire world. In short, every wine consumer in the world should admire his accomplishments. All of Chapoutier’s lower level 2010 whites and basic reds have long been sold out, so to keep the tasting somewhat limited during my visit, we focused on the more recently released 2010 white and red selections parcellaires and nearly all the 2011s. As for the 2010 selection parcellaire whites, they are spectacular. Le Pavillon, once called Rochefine and owned by Jaboulet-Verchere, consists of 10 acres of pure granite in the famed Les Bessards, which is considered by many to be the single greatest terroir of Hermitage. The Ermitage Le Pavillon, which is meant to age for 50+ years, is Michel Chapoutier’s legacy, and he is confident that history will support his belief in this extraordinary wine. Michel Chapoutier is not alone in believing the 2011s may resemble a more modern day version of 1991. That vintage was largely underrated by just about everybody (except yours truly) because all the accolades and hyperbole were largely bestowed on both 1989 and 1990 (deservedly), but in the Northern Rhone 1991 turned out to be a strikingly superb vintage for Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and Condrieu. In the Southern Rhone, the vintage was largely a disaster. Following is an overview of what to expect with the inexpensive 2011 whites and reds. Most of these wines do not have the weight, power or tannic structure of the 2010s, but they are by no means diluted or wimpish wines. They tend to be charming, fruit-forward and seductive, and thus may be preferred by consumers looking for immediate gratification. Although the first few wines reviewed are Southern Rhones, they need to be covered because they are in bottle, and I did not review them in issue 203. Along with several other producers, Michel Chapoutier has helped increase the world’s attention to the long-forgotten, microscopic appellation of St.-Peray. Chapoutier produces a bevy of St.-Perays under his own name as well as in partnership with two three-star chefs, Sophie Pic, of the Restaurant Pic in Valence (as well as several culinary branches in Paris and Lausanne, Switzerland), and Yannick Alleno, the brilliant chef at the Hotel Le Meurice’s in Paris. The red 2011 selections parcellaires are already fruit-forward and seductive. Readers should love them as they are much more evolved than the more structured, powerful, dense, tannic 2010s.

Robert Parker | 100 RP
(M Chapoutier, Le Pavillon, Hermitage, Rhône, France, Red) Sometimes the setting in which you taste a wine helps to fix it in your mind. I tasted this at the Chapel of Saint Christopher on the hill of Hermitage, looking down over the vineyards - a magical spot at the best of times. I was expecting this to be quite closed and introspective, but it's already unfurling, and beginning its first drinking window, quite mature in colour, open and ready for business. It has a beautifully aromatic nose, complex notes of plum, blackberry, glove leather, black olive tapenade and a little hedgerow. Very fresh and alive. Great impact and concentration on the palate, remarkably saline, very intense, but so lively and vivid. Texturally it's velvety, saline, bright and pixelated. Long finish. A hugely complex and dynamic wine, the spirit of Hermitage. (Drink between 2020-2034)

Decanter | 99 DEC
Densely packed, with zesty loganberry, blueberry coulis, plum skin and blackberry paste flavors, presenting a hefty backdrop of ganache and graphite that takes over on the very long finish. A lovely alder note echoes in the background. Best from 2018 through 2028. 43 cases imported. — JM

Wine Spectator | 97 WS
Inky purple. Heady, exotically perfumed aromas of ripe dark berries, candied flowers, Indian spices and cracked pepper. Stains the palate with intense blackberry and boysenberry flavors, picking up a sweet violet pastille note with aeration. Dense but lively and strikingly precise given its concentration. Shows superb finishing energy and focus, closing with amazing length and slow-building, harmonious tannins. This wine is built for the long haul; I wouldn't touch it for at least another decade.

Vinous Media | 96 VM

Wine Details for 2010 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon

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.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.



For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.



France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.



France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.



With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.


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.
Subregion Northern Rhone
Appellation Hermitage
Climat/Vineyard Le Pavillon

Overview

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.

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