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01 December 2009

M. Chapoutier, Tain l'Hermitage

Apart from their all-encompassing Rhone Valley presence and portfolio (just about everywhere from north to south), Michel Chapoutier has his largely organic/biodynamic fingers in other pies, notably the Roussillon (see link below), Australia (Victoria and South Australia) and Portugal (Estremadura). However, the company is perhaps best known as "the biggest landowner in Hermitage," as it says in their corporate blurb, that somewhat sought-after appellation where they have 34 hectares/85 acres. So, they make a few different wines sourced from these revered, and pretty awesome hillside vineyards. The two below, tasted in December 2009, fit into their 'prestige' range meaning they're Chapoutier's most famous, and dearest, Hermitage "cru" labels: the white comes from three plots with different soils and aspects called "Le Méal", "Les Murets" and "Chante-Alouette" itself; and the red from "Les Bessards", "Le Méal" and "Les Greffieux."

2006 Chante-Alouette white Hermitage (Marsanne 14.5%) - exotic and lightly toasted nose with apricot, honeysuckle and oily/nutty aromas; similar flavours and mouthfeel, pretty big rounded "oxidative" style with nice dry bite and a touch of not unattractive wood texture in the background. Wow, definitely a foodie drinking quite well now although I'm sure it'll develop further as, after that wonderful nose and initial flavours, it closes up a bit on the finish. Next day: creamier, honeyed and more hazelnuttty with oily texture and nice oomph. Fr online €37; UK £36 Tanners, the Wine Society. 90+
2006 Monier de la Sizeranne red Hermitage (Syrah 14%) - wild smoky complex nose with meaty/animal notes, white pepper and dark black cherry, damson and liquorice; lush fruit vs dry grainy coating on the palate, ballsy and mouth-filling followed by attractive bite and length, actually fairly subtle finish closing up giving the impression it needs 2-3 years to express itself better. This was confirmed after 2 days open, as it really opened up showing more liquorice and dark fruits, turning meatier and savoury with dry tannins vs sweet fruit and peppery undertones. Fr online €49; UK £45 Edencroft Fine Wine, Tanners, the Wine Society. 89-91

Click here for a couple of Chapoutier's Roussillon reds and here for a bit of Crozes stuff. Not surprisingly, their wines are well-distributed around the world. More @ www.chapoutier.com.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.