There was no better way to celebrate our first wine dinner since the start of the Covid pandemic than with the inimitable wines of Michel Chapoutier.
Maison Chapoutier was founded in 1808 and Michel Chapoutier took charge in 1988, he became the seventh generation of his family to run the Domaine. All his vineyards are farmed biodynamically.
We were lucky enough to meet the eccentric and amiable Michel at a party in his Maison when we arrived in Tain Hermitage some years ago. His wines are extremely high quality.
They have vineyards in the best sites including Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, St Peray, Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
They also produce in other areas of France such as Roussillon and outside France including Australia Portugal and Germany
The atmosphere in the Club room at Frederick’s marked the occasion.
A packed crowd on 34 wine lovers included new recruits including a cohort of wine enthusiasts, currently doing their WSET exams. We started with an introduction of Chapoutier.
Guillaume Lafragette Chapoutier brand manager was equally as excited to be back to live events as our attendees
The wines showed incredibly well. Stuart’s Tasting notes below-
Esteban, Domaine de la Combe Pilate, VDF, Sparkling, White
Made using methode ancestralle where there is only a single fermentation which is stopped while the wines are put in a capped bottle to finish without any added yeast or sugar (unlike methode champenoise/traditionelle).
Light bubbles, bready, with a faint apricot nose. Opened up as it warmed up to expose more Viognier character. 9% ABV, very drinkable, not overly complex.
M. Chapoutier Les Tanneurs, Saint-Péray, White
100% Marsanne made in stainless steel. Apples, citrus fruit, mineral nose. Body medium +, acidity med +, very good balance between the fruit and acidity, with a lingering saline and slightly bitter finish. Very elegant, long and worthy of its place.
M. Chapoutier Mathilde Duché d’Uzès Southern rhone blend
A fuller wine made from a blend of Viognier, Grenache blanc, Marsanne and Roussane, fermented and aged in stainless steel, from clay-limestone soils. Apricots and other ripe fruit, some white flowers (Viognier), balanced with the cut of acidity from the Marsanne and Roussane, creating a beautiful blend that somehow balanced all the different weights and flavours.
M. Chapoutier Sicamor, Crozes-Hermitage, Red
100% Syrah from Crozes Hermitage, made in concrete tanks. A very typical Syrah nose of leather, spices, pepper, and black fruit, with great balance. Showing some meaty notes as the wine opened up, with a penetrating fruit concentration, fine tannins and lovely overall balance. A very classic example of Crozes.
Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Cotes de Roussillon
Blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from Roussillon. A brute of a wine, dark in colour, exploding with garrigue and dried dark fruit, very herbaceous and spicy nose. On the palate, the wine overwhelms, with a bit of fiery bite, biting tannins as you get a sense of the individual parts of this wine as well as a good dollop of the 14.5% ABV. The wine is still quite primary, not quite knit, but based on experience, will evolve into a balanced beautiful expression of the terroir. Give it 5-7 yrs same to tame and settle.
M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Banyuls
Made from 100% Grenache noir, fermentation stopped by the addition of alcohol to create this 17% sweet and elegant dessert wine. Chocolate powder notes with kirsch, liquer dipped cherries. Smooth and delicious with both the chocolate pot and surprisingly, the Stilton. From 500cl bottles
My favourites on the night were the St Peray 100% Marsanne for it smooth full body and texture. Stuart was more of a fan of the Clos d’uzes Mathilde and the fruit packed well balanced Sicamor Crozes Hermitage.
I was pining for mature cheese with the Banyuls rather than the chocolate dessert.
True to form my father delved into his travel bag and delivered a selection of mature cheeses including Michel Chapoutier personal favorite Blue Stilton.
We would like to especially thank the excellent Hatch Mansfield for their great assistance with this dinner.