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.
|RED||2020||2 cases||Chapoutier - Crozes Hermitage Les Varonniers Rouge||75cl||£220 per case of 6||Chapoutier
Crozes Hermitage Les Varonniers Rouge
2020 / 2 cases / 75cl
£220 per case of 6
|RED||2020||Chapoutier - Saint Joseph Les Granits Rouge||75cl||£220 per case of 6||Chapoutier
Saint Joseph Les Granits Rouge
2020 / / 75cl
£220 per case of 6
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