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2020 Chapoutier Sélections Parcellaires: En primeur offer

Released en primeur this month, the 2020 vintage of Michel Chapoutier's single vineyard wines or 'Sélections Parcellaires' are some of the finest expressions of classic Rhône terroirs available.   The Rhône has no 'Grand Cru' classification, but if it did, these lieux dits would almost certainly a part of it.

Since the early noughties, Michel has launched each new vintage of these with a trade tasting in London.  True to his 'misunderstood genius' persona, he decided to present the wines himself, directly to the trade, so that they could make up their own minds, before the critics had a chance to judge them.  However, this year, just one critic, Decanter Magazine's Rhône expert Matt Walls, has been given an exclusive preview tasting ahead of the trade tasting in October. 

As in Bordeaux, 2020 was the third hot vintage in a row in the Rhône, but the extremes of heat were less pronounced and came at just the right time to retain fresh acidity levels along with the  exceptional ripeness.  Walls' scores range as high 99 points for some of the top wines and he describes it as a vintage with ageing potential which will also be accessible when young, with 'luxurious' tannins in the reds and 'clarity and freshness' to the whites.

Michel pioneered micro-vinification of single vineyard sites in the Northern Rhône in the 1980s, making cuvées which express their terroir.  This was no small matter in a region where it was traditional to blend fruit from different parcels, to achieve a balanced, 'harmonious' wine.  An analogy would be if Lafite-Rothschild suddenly opted to release six different wines, each from a different plot of vines.

Maison M. Chapoutier 'Sélections Parcellaires'

Producer Profile

Maison M. Chapoutier 'Sélections Parcellaires'

Michel Chapoutier pioneered micro-vinification of single vineyard sites in the Northern Rhône in the 1980s, making cuvées which express their terroir.  This was no small matter in a region where it was traditional to blend fruit from different parcels, to achieve a balanced, 'harmonious' wine.  An analogy would be if Lafite-Rothschild suddenly opted to release six different wines, each from a different plot of vines.

The highlights of the Sélections Parcellaires range are without doubt the Hermitages. 'L'Ermite' is from vines surrounding the Hermitage chapel itself (surprisingly, Jaboulet's 'La Chapelle' comes from vines further away from the chapel).  Fewer than 400 cases are made each year.  Le Pavillon comes from vines averaging 100 years of age, with fewer than 600 cases made.  Le Méal is the warmest of the three parcels, producing wines with profound depth of fruit. 

Less familiar to many will be the white Hermitages; rich, honeyed and mineral wines.  We urge you to compare their relative rarity and pricing with white burgundy from some of the top domaines.  For Matt Walls, the white wines are a standout success in 2020.

Saint-Josephs 'Les Granits' and 'Le Clos may be from a humbler appellation, but they regularly achieve scores to equal the best Hermitages.  The Côte-Roties 'Mordorée' and 'Neve' are from 100% Syrah vines, on the edge of the 'Côte Blonde', both brilliant and relatively affordable introductions to the Selection Parcellaires.  

In the Southern Rhone, the Châteauneuf-du-Papes 'Barbe Rac' and 'Croix de Bois' are similarly purist, made from 100% Grenache from exceptionally low-yielding vines up to 100 years of age and have wonderful aromatic complexity and minerality.

RED 2020 Chapoutier - Châteauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac 75cl £290 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£290 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"From an ancient, 90-year-old 4ha terraced vineyard planted on red clay and ferruginous sand soil covered by large galettes - typical round pebbles of the region. This vineyard produces some of the finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines." Chapoutier-----There's an appealing high-toned spice over the very ripe blackberry fruit here, like star anise. Very rounded and generous, but with some good intensity and freshness at its core. Concentrated and ripe but with good acidity. The alcohol is warming on the finish, but it's not overly unbalanced. A fruity and immediate style of Barbe Rac. Drinking Window 2022 - 2029. 93 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Châteauneuf du Pape Croix de Bois 75cl £290 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£290 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"From a plot near town of Bedarrides, from vineyard covered in large round pebbles over sandy red clay. Planted on slightly higher altitude than Barbe Rac, wine from this plot is known for its great structure and intensity." Chapoutier------"Good depth of colour. Black cherries and liquorice on the nose, good sense of ripeness. Very rounded, fruity, generous. Very ripe, with a touch of prune to the fruit. Good acidity, but it doesn't totally disguise the very high alcohol, which is warming on the finish. Ripe, long, juicy - I would drink young. Soft, with juicy tannins. Drinking Window 2022 - 2027. 91 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Cote Rotie La Mordorée 75cl £475 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£475 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"This wine is made from a 3ha plot planted on very steep, terraced slope, with vines over 70-year-old that produce tiny yields. In this vintage, the vineyard has gifted us with a beautifully ripe wine dominated by spicy notes and dark berries, a sign of excellent cellaring potential." Chapoutier------"Saturated colour, a very ripe and expressive style. There's a juiciness on the palate from the fruit, and plenty of sweet, ripe tannins. The alcohol is a little warming here, the fruit very ripe. All very well integrated, this sample feels decidedly embryonic, with considerable oak influence, giving further sweet vanilla and spice. Will be very good in time, in a fairly modern, ripe, oaky style. This will be seductive in youth, but I would wait before opening this for the terroir to come forward. Drinking Window 2028 - 2035. 93 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Cote Rotie Neve 75cl £555 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£555 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"1.5ha single vineyard Syrah from the ‘roasted vineyards’ of Côte Rôtie planted on schist and mica soils. This wine’s spicy and floral notes result in a more direct expression of this hillside’s composition." Chapoutier------"A little spicier and earthier than La Mordorée this year, more savoury. Medium-bodied, precise and dry - packed full of dense, ripe tannins. Very ripe, with a good sense of harmony and integration. Excellent balance. Long finish. Ripe and seductive, without overt oak influence. The alcohol is high but doesn't feel unbalanced thanks to the concentration of fruit. Drinking Window 2028 - 2038. 94 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Crozes-Hermitage 'Les Varonniers' 75cl £190 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£190 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"Les Varonniers is made from the oldest Crozes Hermitage vines that are over 60 years old, planted on granitic terraces on the Hermitage hill. It comes from plot historically known as ‘Varogne’, recognized as a lieu-dit." Chapoutier------"Graphite, plum and blackberry. Beautifully silky, has a good sense of fluidity but also remarkable intensity and concentration. Energy and drive, with deep fruit and sweet tannins. Has a mineral straightness that helps to temper the ripe fruit and ripe tannin. The alcohol is quite raised but not unbalanced. A cut above most Crozes-Hermitages, more serious in style and texture. Drinking Window 2023 - 2035. 94 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
WHITE 2020 Chapoutier - Ermitage de L'Orée Blanc 75cl £770 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£770 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"This 3.5ha ‘Les Murets’ vineyard lies in one of the world-famous appellations. Marsanne from 60-70-year-old vines planted on very old fluvioglacial alluvial soils creates a generous, multifaceted beauty here. Outstanding wine with a great potential for ageing. Chapoutier------"The nose is quite savoury, almond is the presiding aroma, with apple and quince in the background. It has the roundness of De l'Orée but without excessive opulence - this vintage is a little straighter than some. Well balanced, with a more clearly visible mineral line than a classic vintage of this cuvée, which can be veiled by intense richness when young. Fresh, balanced, more thirst-quenching than a typical De l'Orée, its propensity to opulence slightly tempered. I think this works particularly well this year. Drinking Window 2023 - 2045. 98 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Ermitage Le Meal 75cl £900 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£900 per case of 6
IB
Tasting NotesFrom a hillside plot located at 150-200 metres altitude, planted on shingle and clay terraces where the average age of vines if over 50 years. This 2.2 ha vineyard produces perfumed wines with great ageing potential." Chapoutier------"Explosive ripe blackberries melded with spicy oak. Very smooth and generous, shot through with a thick weave of sweet, ripe tannins. The alcohol is on the high side, but this has very impressive concentration and tannic weight - coupled with balanced acidity this promises to age with interest. I love the sweet, soft tannins, but this will take a long time to come round and show fully display its terroir. Drinking Window 2030 - 2045. 95 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
WHITE 2020 Chapoutier - Ermitage Le Meal Blanc 75cl £725 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£725 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes‘Le Méal’ is a 2ha parcel of old Marsanne vines – some more than 50-year-old, with very low yields. Planted on fluvioglacial alluvial deposit soil with large pebbles that help to warm the soil and retain heat, contributing to the good ripening of the grapes." Chapoutier------"Almond, quince and a touch of rhubarb at this early stage; you sense the ripeness, but it's not exotically fruity in 2020. The silkiness and glycerol on the palate are quite present, this sample shows plentiful oak, lending matchstick and cashew to the finish. An elegant vintage of Le Méal. Well balanced, far from massive. Not as powerful or concentrated as the past few vintages, this will drink well young, and age into the medium term. Not a hugely-long lived Méal I suspect, but a delightful one nonetheless. There is generous alcohol, but it’s not unbalanced. Drinking Window 2023 - 2040. 94 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Ermitage Le Pavillon 75cl £1,105 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£1,105 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"A wine that doesn’t need an introduction – now a world-famous top wine from Michel’s 4ha ‘Les Bessards’ vineyard of 65-year-old Syrah, at the top of the Hermitage hill. Le Pavillon produces wines that are tarry and smoky with notes of raspberry, blackberry, walnut and liquorice on a complex and powerful palate that is at the same time velvety and balanced, with long, lingering notes of liquorice, tobacco and cocoa." Chapoutier------"Has that tell-tale touch of soy to the plum and blackcurrant fruit so reminiscent of this cuvée. Very fluid and juicy on the palate, this has great intensity and salinity without feeling heavy or overripe. Plenty of sweet, ripe tannins and balanced acidity. Only medium-bodied, there's a touch of pepperiness on the finish. Great freshness and balance. Perfect balance and so harmonious. Sometimes a wine seems a bit too easy, a bit too effortless, and it can lull you into a sense that it lacks seriousness. This wine tries to do that. But I'm not inclined to underestimate it. Drinking Window 2030 - 2052. 99 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Ermitage L'Ermite 75cl £1,230 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£1,230 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"The jewel in the M. CHAPOUTIER crown! 3ha plot at the top of the Hermitage hill where the vines are over 80-year-old, planted on poor granitic soils. ‘L’Ermite’ produces a powerful, complex wine full of dark fruit, spice and ink characters, with silky tannins and notes of smoke and pepper. The most elegant and aromatic Hermitage in the range." Chapoutier------"A fresh, flinty aroma with blackcurrant underneath - enlivening nose. Great harmony, incisive freshness and remarkable drive. The fruit is fresh, pure and concentrated. Totally seamless on the palate, with incredible textural finesse. Very long. A profound Hermitage in the making, perhaps not one of great weight and authority, but one of incredible tension, freshness and precision. If 2019 was Thor, 2020 is Loki. Like all of the 2020 reds, its fruitiness and approachable structure will make many want to drink this young. You can - but this has serious ageing potential. Drinking Window 2030 - 2055. 98 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - Ermitage Les Greffieux 75cl £515 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£515 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"Les Greffieux is located at the foot of the Hermitage hill, on a glacial alluvial deposit terrace composed of shingles and clay. The vines here are over 50-year old, creating powerful wines." Chapoutier------"Attractive fruity perfume straight away, ripe blackberries. There's an inner sweetness to the fruit, the alcohol is raised, adding a little more sweetness. Generous roundness, a very accessible and juicy style of Hermitage. Great tannic ripeness and generous in load, but feels a little bit too ripe and easy to promise great future complexity. Pleasure though? Undoubtedly. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042. 94 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - St Joseph Le Clos 75cl £475 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£475 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"One of the top wines from Saint-Joseph, Le Clos is made from a 0.98ha Syrah vineyard planted on coarse black mica granite. This ancient soil creates wine full of dark fruits, beautiful minerality, fine, silky tannins and notes of graphite on a long, lingering finish." Chapoutier------"Dense black fruit overlaid with violets - very much in the Mauves style of Saint-Joseph. Peppery and spicy. Full-bodied without heaviness, this feels dense but not overly thick. Tannins are chalky but melting, like 100% pure cocoa. The oak is a little more pronounced than with Les Granits, but it's well integrated. Lifted finish. There's intense concentration and deep, dark tannins, but it's all very well balanced. May prove to be the vintage yet of Le Clos. Drinking Window 2027 - 2035. 95 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
WHITE 2020 Chapoutier - St Joseph Les Granits Blanc 75cl £225 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£225 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"100% Marsanne from a 2ha vineyard planted on very steep, poor, stony granitic soil that gives this wine its mineral notes with aniseed and fennel overtones, with a wonderful bitterness in its youth, transforming into waxy, honeyed tones as it matures. Harmonious and well-balanced, from the northernmost appellation of the Rhône." Chapoutier------"A relatively brisk and fresh style of Les Granits this year, well balanced, with an upright mineral spine. The acidity is spot-on, giving the wine edge and length. Oak is well judged, and doesn't occlude the fruit. A little less fat and ripeness than some recent years, but has a good sense of intensity if not generosity - you really feel the granite in the granular, slightly serrated mouthfeel. A return to a more classic, measured style this year. 94 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021
RED 2020 Chapoutier - St Joseph Les Granits Rouge 75cl £220 per case of 6 Chapoutier
2020 / / 75cl
£220 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"This 2.5ha Syrah vineyard is planted on poor, granitic soil in the heart of Saint-Joseph appellation. The harshness of the soil makes vines work extra hard, delivering long lived, structured wines." Chapoutier------"Touch of fresh peat and seaweed on the nose at this early stage. Lovely weight and freshness on the palate, very clear and detailed. Tannins are measured, the wine has a crispness and even a touch of black pepper. Earthy, spicy style, not overly ripe or concentrated - you see the structure with clarity. Will drink well young, and offer a lot of pleasure, showing terroir and complexity without great concentration or length. Great balance and freshness however. Drinking Window 2023 - 2030. 94 points." Matt Walls, Decanter, June 2021

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