Hermitage La Chapelle

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Hermitage Hill

Harrogate Medical Wine Society held a vertical tasting of Hermitage La Chapelle, limited to 17 tasters, on Thursday 2 October 2014 at the Masonic Hall in Harrogate.

Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Ainé

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  • The name of Hermitage La Chapelle is linked to the little chapel of Saint-Christophe overlooking the terraced vineyards along the Rhône. Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné has been the sole owner since 1919. The diversity of “terroirs” on these lands gives the wine an identity of its own. The Syrah vines are planted in rich and varied soils with very diverse terroirs (les Bessards, les Greffieux, le Méal and les Rocoules). It is the richness of these different terroirs that provides Hermitage La Chapelle with its complexity.
  • Grape Variety: Very old Syrah vines; goblet pruning on stakes.
  • Age of the vines: 40 to 60 years.
  • Vinification: Grapes are brought down from the slopes of l’Hermitage on small sledges, after which they are sorted by hand and vinified traditionally. 
  • Ageing: La Chapelle is aged in wood in the ancient “VINEUM” cellar for 15 to 18 months. 
  • Yield: Low yields of 10 to 18 hl/ha.

“This iconic cuvée first saw the light of day over 100 years ago. It is named after the little chapel that is perched on the hill of Hermitage and is owned by Paul Jaboulet Ainé. The wine it self, 100% syrah, comes from all over Hermitage and especially from two lies-dits, Bessards, which brings structure and backbone and Méal, for body and opulence.” – Marcel Oxford-Williams

 

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1. Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Ainé 2007

  • The plump, black-cherry flavour that defines Méal vineyard is clearly to the fore in the 2007. There is a roasted quality too which is reminiscent of past great vintages. Superb Hermitage and the best Chapelle for some time. One to keep for a while longer. 2015 to 2030. 14%. (£125) – The Wine Society
  • The best of the lot. More structure and fruit with good balance. Second vintage by Caroline Frey under new ownership. Not sure it is worth £125. – PBD

2. Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Ainé 2006

  • A very distinguished Hermitage.There was less made as the new owners insisted on stringent selection during the blending and this is not unnaturally reflected in the price. Now to 2035. 14%. (£99) – The Wine Society
  • Starting to recover old La Chapelle form but not quite there. – PBD

3. Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Ainé 2003

  • Big, weighty Hermitage from the heatwave vintage of 2003. Lovely now but there is no hurry what so ever. Now to 2025. 14.5%, (£89) – The Wine Society
  • More structure but baked fruit flavours. – PBD

4. Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Ainé 2001

  • Fruit from vines in Méal dominate, and it is this which accounts for the deceptively smooth and velvety texture in the wine. Winemakers Jacques and Laurent Jaboulet aimed high in 2001 and this Chapelle has everything in place: a glorious bouquet and an ample, fat and concentrated flavour. Already lovely and will continue to develop well over many years. Now to 2030. 13.5%. (£79) – The Wine Society
  • Acidic, flavourless and going nowhere. – PBD

5. Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Ainé 1999

  • A lovely Chapelle, quite forward, ripe and sweetly flavoured. The tannins are now quite smooth making this already very enjoyable to drink. Now to 2030. 13.5%. (£99) – The Wine Society
  • Forward but thin, supple tannins, enjoyable to drink but not a great Chapelle. Will not last much longer. – PBD

6. The Mystery Wine was Ken Forrester Gypsy 2010 (£24.20 HMWS)

Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2012 was served on arrival. The tasting was followed by a two course supper prepared by Adam Vear of the Harrogate Masonic Hall. Guigal Gigondas 2006 (£13.20 HMWS) accompanied the meal

Supper Menu

Pork fillet with sage and onion rosti, brandy cream sauce

Baked plums with cinnamon and mascapone

Tickets for the event cost £58 pp. inclusive of supper

Comments:

  1. “Thanks again for a superb Hermitage la Chapelle tasting last night. It’s fascinating to the learn the truth behind this ‘great’ wine, and a privilege to taste its progress, even in less successful years. Also very handy to know which vintages to avoid if we’re ever thinking of shelling out £100+ for a bottle! Those past reviews you showed us were particularly interesting – and very revealing about the reviewers!” – Tony Gamble, Harrogate, 3 October
  2. “Many thanks for the excellent educational “vertical tasting” on Thursday last week. It brought to my attention that, first and foremost:-
    • Never judge a wine by its purchase price.
    • Always judge a wine on its value for your money.
    • Never buy a case of aging expensive wine on trust from what has been previously reported to be its expected development over time.

    Perhaps we should give greater consideration to only buying wines that are chosen by blind tasting?” – Prof. Charles Joslin, Harrogate, 5th October

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