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2021 Hermitage La Chapelle & Sterimberg Blanc, Domaine La Chapelle

The first releases from the Place de Bordeaux Autumn Offers come from the newly-minted Domaine La Chapelle in the Northern Rhône: 2021 Hermitage 'La Chapelle' and 2021 Hermitage 'Chevalier de Sterimberg' Blanc.  Henri-Gaspard de Sterimberg, was the knight who established himself as a hermit on the hill and built a small chapel, on returning from the Crusades in 1224.

Winemaker and owner Caroline Frey has brought about a renaissance at these legendary vineyards, previously part of Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné.  From the 2021 vintage, the wines have been separated from Jaboulet, becoming part of a new estate, Domaine La Chapelle.  This is also the first time they have been distributed through La Place de Bordeaux.   

We offer the new 2021 vintage here en primeur, alongside some library vintages (2013, '11 and '06) cellared in perfect conditions, in Jaboulet's own cellars. We also offer the last of our stocks of 2020 and 2019, just a handful of cases remain of each.

Rhône wine lovers may feel wistful at the separation from Jaboulet, but a look at the photo of the hill of Hermitage, above, puts this move into context. Jaboulet's name is seen on wines from across a large area of the Rhône Valley, including humble Côtes du Rhône.  La Chapelle and Chevalier de Sterimberg have more in common with rarified, self-named Burgundy domaines associated with a particular terroir, like Domaine des Lambrays.  

Following biodynamic principals, Frey has improved both the vineyards and winemaking here, and at La Lagune, her family's estate in Bordeaux.  Following a run of excellent releases, the 2021 Hermitage La Chapelle scores 96 points from James Suckling, the only major review so far.  2021 was a cool vintage, with severe frosts producing a tiny but high-quality harvest.

Whether the new direction at Domaine La Chapelle will justify the steep price increases from the Jaboulet era remains to be seen, but committed collectors will wish to have both wines in their cellars.

2021, '13, '11 and '06 vintages offered ex-château, expected in the UK in spring 2024 . 



Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné & Domaine La Chapelle

Producer Profile

Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné & Domaine La Chapelle

About Domaine La Chapelle & Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné

The chapel itself (pictured) has stood since the 12th century, but stands on the site of an earlier Roman temple to Hercules. Restored in the 1860s, the building and the vineyard holdings were bought by Jaboulet in 1919.  

Jaboulet's reputation was on a high from after the war, through to the 1990's.  Sadly, in 1992 Jacques Jaboulet (then winemaker) had a diving accident.  Younger members of the family gradually took over the running of the business, but by the early 2000s were struggling to capture former success.  Tasting a bottle of the 1998 vintage blind in the office recently, we mistook it for a lower-level grand cru burgundy.   

Jaboulet was in danger of becoming a shadow of its former self, until the business was bought in 2006 by a Swiss financier, Jean-Jacques Frey.  His daughter Caroline Frey took over as oenologist and has largely been responsible for a gradual renaissance here over the last decade, focusing primarily on quality in the vineyard and a steady move to organics and biodynamics.  The scores for recent vintages of La Chapelle reflect this steady rise in quality.  

We think fine Rhône wines are very undervalued.  Commercial examples of appellations like Crozes-Hermitage, enjoyable though they may be, are a world away from Jaboulet's low production, terroir-driven cuvees.  Most are made in very small quantities, just 300-400 cases, with only the Domaine Thalabert Crozes produced in any volume, at 7,300 cases. 

In a good year, around 2,800 cases of La Chapelle itself are made, reflecting Jaboulet's famously rich holdings in Hermitage.  From the 2021 vintage, La Chapelle and Chevalier de Sterimberg Blanc are part of a new estate, Domaine La Chapelle, with a new winery under construction, allowing Frey and her team to focus on pushing these two wines towards even higher quality.

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