M. Chapoutier Le Meal Ermitage 2011
Syrah/Shiraz from Hermitage, Rhone, France
Le Méal, a broader swath of the hill at a slightly higher elevation (150-200 meters) faces slightly more to the east. It is composed of chalk and alluvial gravelly soil rather than granite, and produces a wine of greater perfume, whether red (Syrah) or white (Marsanne). Le Méal owes its official "lieu dit," in English "place name" to the old French word meaning "the best."
Deep red garnet with violet highlights during its youth. Ripe fruits and smoky aromas. Powerful tannins, velvety, blackberry jam.
The Wine Advocate - "One of the wines of the vintage, the spectacular 2011 Ermitage Le Meal is borderline perfection. Loaded with dark fruits, charcoal, roasted herbs, liquid violet and crushed rock-like minerality, it flows onto the palate with full-bodied richness, layers of texture and superb concentration. Offering uncommon richness and texture in the vintage, it should have two decades of longevity (and be drinkable for most of it)."
Wine Spectator - "Mulled plum, loganberry and blackberry fruit is melded together in this red, studded with anise, briar and singed mesquite notes. A light tarry backdrop frames the long finish. "
International Wine Cellar - "Vivid purple. Sexy, high-pitched red fruit aromas are complicated by notes of Szechuan peppercorn, potpourri and smoky minerals. Powerful but elegant as well, offering palate-staining black raspberry, cola and violet pastille flavors and a strong mineral underpinning. Finishes with superb clarity, spiciness and length, leaving a smoky mineral note behind. Here the liveliness of the vintage is enhanced by surprising depth and power, which suggests that the wine will be a good cellar candidate."
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M. Chapoutier Winery
No name is more closely associated with the greatness of the Rhone 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. View all M. Chapoutier Wines
About HermitageView a map of Hermitage wineries (EHR-me-tahj) and Crozés-Hermitage (krohz EHR-me-tahj)
Notable FactsSyrah 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.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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