Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 2019
Intense ruby red, limpid and bright. Highly complex, distinguished nose, revealing the Syrah’s great finesse. Black fruits, sweet spices and, ultimately, finely woody. Full and generous, silky tannins and a very long finish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Last year, I giddily speculated whether the 2019 Hermitage La Chapelle would warrant a 100-point score. While close—and I wouldn't completely discount it reaching that pinnacle in another decade or two—I'm not sure this wine is as good as I thought. It boasts exciting aromas of roasted meat, mocha, crushed stone, plum and cassis on the nose. It's full-bodied, concentrated, richly tannic and velvety in texture. It's long and complex on the finish, adding hints of cracked pepper and salted licorice. And yet, as much as I enjoyed tasting it and as undeniably great it is, angels didn't sing from the heavens. Maybe next bottle. Best after 2025. Rating: 98+
Compared to the La Maison Bleue, the 2019 Hermitage La Chapelle is more closed, tight, and primary, with a focused, full-bodied style that carries impressive black and blue fruits, graphite, bloody meat, and ample minerality. Structured and tannic, yet wonderfully concentrated and pure, it's not for those seeking instant gratification, but it’s another stunning Hermitage in the making.
Barrel Sample: 96-98+
A big, rich wine with intense fruit, showing blackberry, black olive and black truffle character. Full-bodied and layered with chewy tannins that are soft and juicy. It’s a little warm on the finish. Yet, the decadence is so attractive and the phenolics keep it in line. This is very solid.
Paul Jaboulet Aîné has been a trend-setting grower and shipper in the Rhône since 1834. The Jaboulet company was founded by Antoine Jaboulet, and his twin sons, Paul and Henri continued to expand the family business. The elder son ("aîné" in French), Paul, established the company in its present form and gave it his own name. Since then, the company has been run by successive generations of sons from that side of the Jaboulet family.
The House of Paul Jaboulet Aîné is one of the Rhône’s most recognizable wineries. The reputation of Jaboulet wines rests on the quality of the well-situated and well-tended vineyards, on low yields, careful vinification, and diligent aging in oak casks. The Jaboulet family prefers carefully integrated oak aging, in which the influence of wood is never allowed to become excessive. Since this is an important point, they have their own cooper who makes and maintains their stock of barrels.
Jaboulet wines symbolize robustness and elegance, essential qualities of great wines. Their crown jewel is their Hermitage "La Chapelle" which Clive Coates states "is one of the great red wines of the world." Thomas Matthews of Wine Spectator has singled out Jaboulet as a producer which "offers reliable wines across the entire range of appellations (in the northern and southern Rhône)."
One of the smallest and most important Syrah regions of northern Rhone, Hermitage is practically one single south-facing slope of crushed granite, thinly covered with varied, yet well-charted soil types. Many climats (well identified parcels) exist within Hermitage and while some smaller producers make single climat Syrahs, some larger ones blend to make one balanced expression of the appellation.
Though the AC regulations allow the addition of up to 15% white grapes to a red Hermitage, in practice it is usually made from Syrah alone. Winemaking is pretty traditional—or you might say historic—with hot fermentations and aging in older barrels of various sizes. The best wines, characterized by deep, dense and sexy flavors of black fruit, cocoa, licorice and tobacco, have massive textures and a solid 10-20 years aging potential.
The region of Hermitage is totally enclosed; the only place it could go really is to literally fall down its own hill into the city of Tain or the Rhone River. Soil erosion is a problem and terraces exist alongside the hill in order to keep the earth in place. Crozes-Hermitage encloses the region entirely to its north and south.
While Hermitage seems synonymous with some of the best Syrah on the planet, actually about one third of the wine produced here comes from white grapes. The full, lush and robust Marsanne or the less common, but almost more charming, Roussanne create wonderful whites in which the best have great potential for aging, like the reds.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”