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Maison Chapoutier Wine dinner at Frederick’s Restaurant Wednesday September 29th 7.30pm

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

Guillaume Lafragette, Brand Manager of M.Chapoutier presenting excellent wines

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.

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M. Chapoutier Tasting in Tain l’Hermitage May 17th 2013

Tasting Notes courtesy of our travelling sommelier Mr Stuart Grostern

Hosted by the lovely Nelly France, export director for M Chapoutier for UK and Australia and New Zealand. As we progressed it became obvious but Nelly clarified that Michel likes to make his wines mostly from 100% single varietals. We began to run out of time just towards the Monier de la Sizerannes so my notes were abbreviated. Not much attention paid to colour of the wines in the notes.

A truly memorable and special tasting. Thank you to Michel and Nelly for being such wonderful hosts.

Mirabel 2012, vins de pays de Coteaux de l’Ardeche

 100% ViognierFresh, mineral and stone, pure floral almost grapefruity nose. Palate had great balance with acidity there. Rich but not overwhelmingly so. Medium to long finish.Very good.

Invitare  2011, Condrieu

 100% Viognier Initial hint of sea shells and sea, with saline character, which I found incredible. Flowers and peaches emerge after a time. Lovely peachy sweetness, with pears and a hint of vanilla. Medium to short in length. Good, perhaps young.

Petite Ruche 2011, Crozes Hermitage blanc

 100% Marsanne, stainless steel ageing. Apricot, baked apple, stones, licorice, spices including pepper. Great nose. Fat a round in the mouth, good fruit. Very good.

Hongrie 2011, Saint-Peray

 100% Marsanne from old vines Oak aged. Baked apples, vanilla, butter, peppery and spicy nose. Very interesting. Hotter and broader as it settles on the palate. Medium to long finish. Very good.

 Chant-Alouette 2011, Hermitage blanc

100% Marsanne 10-12 months in oak. Smokey mineral, spice and vanilla nose. Sweet pear, honey, spices with great balance and fantastic length. Slightly drying on the finish. Very very good.

Ermitage de l’Oree 2006, Hermitage blanc

100% Marsanne.Now we’re really talking! Waxy nose, with high toned chemical, citrus and apricot fruit underneath, roses, almonds nose.  Big heady waxy, coating the mouth, with savoury, chewy flavours, slightly bitter edge in the aftertaste balancing it out. Great acidity leaving fantastic balance, perfectly integrated. Very long. Excellent.

 La Bernardine 2012, Chateauneuf de Pape

 100% Grenache.Fresh strawberries, garrigue, oregano, licorice, very elegant lifted nose. Tannic and drying in the mouth, dark cherry. Good acidity and balance, beautiful wine. Very long. Very very good.

Barbe Rac 2012, Chateauneuf de Pape

 100% Grenache, barrel sample, not yet bottled.Confected strawberry, dark spicey meaty and herbal nose. Powerful and intriguing.

Ripe strawberry, licorice, dark and brooding fruit, super concentrated but locked up given its age. Great balance and incredible length. Amazing.

Les Granilites 2011, St Joseph

 100% Syrah,Pepper, stones, animal, red berries and gunpowder on the nose. Drying tannins but concentrated red currant taste. Long finish. Very very good.

Les Meysonniers 2011, Crozes Hermitage

100% Syrah.Dark purple colour. Floral (Violets?), animal, reminiscent of cote de nuits/gevrey, light and lifted high tones. Bright red fruits, not overly complex but well balanced and lovely.  Medium finish. Very good

Les Arenes 2010, Cornas

 100% Syrah.Dark chocolate, wet animal fur, spice, flowers, granite, cherries, more spices, licorice.  Great nose. Good tannins, excellent balance with concentrated bright red fruits. Lovely long finish. Very very good.

Les Arenes 2009, Cornas

100% Syrah.Dark cherry nose with spices. Riper broader palate, locked up flavours with plenty of materials there. Very long. Will be incredible in 5+ years, with huge length. Excellent

Les Becasses 2010, Cote Rotie

 100% Syrah.Lifted spicy syrah nose, violets, sweet ripe fruits, ripe blackberries. Fine dry tannins, savoury and complex palate, with great balance. Really interesting and long. Great.

La Mordoree 2010, Cote Rotie

100% Syrah made from a single block on the Cote Brun.Smokey bacon, sweet caramel, garrigue, vanilla, licorice, spices and sweet ripe blackberry. Strong fine tannins, amazing concentration  of purple fruits. Long finish. Fantastic, Amazing!

Monier de la Sizeranne 2010, Hermitage

100% Syrah.Roasted coffee, lifted animal nose. Fine tannins, red and black currants, really concentrated, excellent balance. Very long. Great.

Monier de la Sizeranne 2009, Hermitage

100% Syrah.Riper than the 2010 on the nose, darker and more concentrated. Running out of time at this stage – I wrote – Crazy wine, will be great in 10+ years – so I guess that makes it amazing!

Monier de la Sizeranne 2008, Hermitage

100% Syrah.Starts with red fruit, lifted aromas, some cough medicine. Tannins balanced and ripe, med to long finish. Very good.

Monier de la Sizeranne 2007, Hermitage

100% Syrah.Animal, earth, spices, licorice, flowers, granite, red fruit, spices. Amazing concentration of fruit, great balance, and very long. Excellent!

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Wine tasting in Northern Rhone May 16th to 19th 2013

La Chapelle

La Chapelle

Thursday May 16th 2013

It was with great excitement that six wine loving gentlemen of various levels of fitness left London to seek the finest offerings of the great wine region of Northern Rhone.

With a mixture of serendipity and brazen I had got us an invite to Maison Chapoutier for a party the night of our arrival.

Having attended an M.Chapoutier masterclass on Monday In London I sought out the fun loving forthrightly spoken Michel
Chapoutier who immediately extended a warm hand , game on.

It started with the style we intended to continue.
First class Lille to Valence in an area of the carriage akin to a private boudoir.
Stuart , our travelling sommelier , invited as much for his cellar collection as his fine North American sense of humour (but certainly not for his wind capacity.)
The indulgence commenced immediately with Kiran’s beautifully blown finely rimmed plastic glasses.
Out came my  J L-Chave celebre  St. Joseph , 100%Roussane courtesy of Yapp brothers recommended by the  lovely Bianca Ford.Nelly
Tim’s great analysis of it ..Peaches and cream just like a dream!
Then the J L Chave Hermitage 2004 , see tasting note for full description .This took us to a new level of euphoria.
We questioned the possibility of illicit substances having been added, as we all developed and enhanced sensory
and analytical level .Even the softly spoken, muscle strapped Gerald seemed truly in awe commenting
‘you just want more and more of this’
With a blindly tasted Paulo Scavino 2001 Barolo the journey flew by.
We soon found ourselves on the banks of a wild ,gushing Rhone at le Chateau in Tournon .

Straight to chapoutier … party on , the winners of the days sommelier competition were being announced we were served-
Champagne Millesime 2000 et Ultra D de deveaux
Alsace Bland Riesling 2011 Domaine Schieferkopf
Hermitage Blanc chante alouette
Pyrenees rough Victoria 2008
Hermitage rouge Monier de la Sizeranne 2007 en magnum
Muscat Beaumes de venise 2011 and Rivesaltes 2001

This was just the general wine list.
Michel  came over to say hello and insisted we be served Le Pavillon.The delightful Nelly France , Michel’s export director who never left us all night, proceeded to bring a selection of vinous miracles. Le Meal Hermitage 2006 , Le Pavillon 2000 L’Ermite . All washed down wit-.

Risotto a la Truffe . Gambas et Legumes aux saveurs asiatiques , blanquettes de riz de veau aux morilles , St Jacques snackees et petits legumes verts a la noisette, Booeuf Angus snacke et asperges du Luberon and this was just the hot area . It was all too much for the normally stamina laden Rob.

We danced and partied on , what a welcome to Rhone , Merci bien Michel Chapoutier !Chapoutier party

Crossed the river to Tournon in the early hours , and soon wished I had brought some ear plugs.

Friday May 17th

The forecast was poor but are spirits high. We headed to Jaboulet. The charming aptly named Jean Luc Chapel took us up Hermitage to La Chapelle.
Wonderful views and a topographical history lesson of the vineyards of Jaboulet .This was followed by a private tasting of 8 wines ( see Jaboulet wine event for tasting notes)
and hugely generously opened a La Chapelle Hermitage 2007 for good measure. Lunch of Fromage , Charcuterie and beautifully ripe heritage tomatoes rprovided in Jaboulet .
The six of us warmly satisfied having been treated royally.

Then to Maison Chapoutier where the fabulous Nelly treated us again to a stunning portfolio of their wines .Highlights including Cote Rotie la Mordoree (full details under tasting notes)
Stuart could have easily set his stall for the night, but another appointment at 4pm meant we had to drag him kicking and screaming.

The weather turned. A taxi to Cave Fayolle for a tasting.

We  then welcomed a rare spell of fine sunshine and mounted our unused bikes.Half the party ascended the imposing Hermitage La Chapelle led by Gerald Wiggins Kelly.
A leisurely ascent for the big man. Kiran and I sweating and panting behind. We were treated to wonderful views from the summit .Spring flower blossom,neat rows of beautifully tended budding vines
and the majestic Rhone river meandering serpentially across the valley floor.

Evening came and  an exquisite dinner at Restaurant Le Chaudron in Tournon served by Mac Grillon in .Highlights being
the St Jacques lightly seared, pan fried sweetbreads,Magret de Canard,rasberry pannacotta and a fine wine list.

Saturday May  18th

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ menGiugal
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy

Robbie Burns ‘To a Mouse ‘ 1786

The plan was  bikes in hand  by train to Vienne and follow the  lovely dedicated bike  path   V2  down the  Rhone back to Tain with various leisurely stops on route.
It was not to be.
We managed Vienne to Ampuis and took in the beautiful views. However as predicted, the weather was starting to turn .

We arrived at the congenial Rene Rostaing. We were entertained in his cellar sampling amongst many, his Condreui, Ampodium, 2003, la Landonne 2009, Languedoc 2010.

The rain increased  in ferocity, and the wind picked up. We took refuge  in Bistro de Serine ,16 boulevard des allees, Ampuis. Great lunch and some lovely wines –  Cote Rotie Gerin 2005 and 2010. Then off to GillesBarge next door. He was most generous opening many wines including  a 1992 Cote Rotie.Rene Rostaing

Domaine Gaillard in Malleval next stop.The rain teamed down , the clouds darkened ,the temperature dropped, and the wind picked up.
Five soaked sodden cold defeated men pondered for a few seconds whether to make the ascent up to Gaillard in Malleval. Only the ever stalwart Gerald showed any wish for it. We headed for the nearest train in Peage de Roussilon .Instead of our intended scenic ride by the river we found ourselves five drowned rats inhaling all manner of fume around the chemical factories of Peage.

There was only one thing to lift our mood..To engorge ourselves to bursting with chocolate.  And that we duly did back in the Valrhola chocolate factory in Tain.

A warm bath later and we were all ready for our final gourmet experience of the trip back at Le Chaudron . Pol Roger to start followed by a selection of Delas  wines including Crozes and  St Joseph and more. Served with Nuits St Jaque, sweetbreads, Boeuf fillet ,fromage de la region, pannacotta strawberries and all washed down with  Beaumes de Venice.

A very happy six gentleman returned to Le Chateau, to some rather less pleasant bouquets, (merci Stuart)

With  wine food and company as good as this;
Days may be cloudy or sunny
We’re in or we’re out of the money.
But we’ll love you always, we’re with you rain or shine.

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Maison Jaboulet Aîné, The wines of the northern Rhone tasting 23rd May 2013

Tasting a range of the wines of Northern Rhone the overall delicacy and freshness of these wines comes across with several great recent vintages there are great wines to be found at every level.

Hosted by Marie Cordonier of Maison Jaboulet Aîné and attended by Marcel Orford Williams, chief buyer of the Wine Society & fellow  Crouch End resident.

Bistro Aix, Crouch End

La Chapelle

La Chapelle

The wines:

Le Grand Pompee St Joseph Blanc 2010 Approx price: £14

Served as an aperitif. Nice floral nose, good creamy texture in the mouth, great balance and good length. 100% Marsanne. Lovely.

Condrieu Les Grands Amandiers 2008 (Viognier) Approx price: £43

Smokey nose, peaches lurking underneath, more oily texture, stone fruit, medium length. We tasted the 2010 at Maison Jaboulet in Tain L’Hermitage which was floral and fruity and had greater freshness.

Hermitage Le Chevailier de Sterimberg 2008 Approx price: £44

Served together with the H Sterimberg with pate starter.

Named  after the knight crusader Gaspard de Sterimberg who established a hermitage on the hill. This blend of approx. 70% marsanne and 30% rousanne is sensational.  A compact and concentrated nose of pear flesh with a whiff of wood, on the palate again tight complex flavours mixing fruit and nuttiness: apricot stones. This wine has a beautiful mouth feel and great length, still a baby.  At Maison Jaboulet in Tain L’Hermitage we tasted the 2010 which was even more concentrated, had more vigour and freshness and delicious note.  One of the wines of the trip Excellent!

St Joseph Le Grand Pompee Rouge 2010 Approx price: £15

Nice fruity peppery nose, sweet black fruit, savoury notes emerging, medium body, more fruit great lift and freshness, reasonably sustained.  This is good now but with a few years in bottle will fill out with more savoury substance.  From granite soils.  Great value from a great year.   All the 2010 wines we tasted on our trip were stunning with great clean fruit, balance and freshness.  Marcel also felt that one could hardly go wrong buying this vintage.

Cornas Grandes Terrasses: 2009 Approx price: £27

Served with Confit de Canard main course.

Decanted for about an hour this delicious fruit driven wine had a nose of really ripe blackberry with a touch of chocolate almost new world in its exuberance. Concentrated in the mouth packed with more sweet fruit, powerful, plenty of good tannin and enough balance. 2009 was another great year but riper and this has a good future.

Croze Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2007 Approx price: £23

A long standing favourite of mine this Croze is special.  Marcel explained that it is one of the oldest vineyards in the area, established by Jaboulet and pre-dating the appellation. Although received wisdom is that Croze from the hilly area north of Hermitage is generally the best this vineyard on the plain consistently produces very fine wine because of a subtle elevation and difference in soil make up.  Whatever the reason I love it and have found that it is best to forget about it for at least 6 – 7 years at which point it begins to sing.

The 2007 is approachable now with nice fruit reflecting yet another good year in the Rhone (though more so in the south). I would still tuck this away for another couple of years though and have resisted opening any bottled of my case bought EP from the Wine Society.

Served side by side with the Cornas the contrast is clear this is all elegance and restraint in comparison to the exuberance of the Cornas. Black cherry, touch of coffee, white pepper on the nose, still a little tight on the palate but then more black fruit, spice and characteristic great vigour from the acidity, medium long.  Promises wonderful drinking.  (currently10% discount at Bibendum)

Hermitage La Petite Chapelle 2007 Approx price: £60

In Tain this was a little closed by having been decanted for a couple of hours it was much more expressive. Served blind with the Chapelle 01 it was fairly clear which was the more youth full wine. Nice fruit on the nose, a scented nose with whiff of flowers and savoury notes underneath. Lots going on in the mouth, really fresh sweet fruit, savoury note making a vibrant mix, long and exciting.  A super wine which will no doubt develop beautifully.

Hermitage La Chapelle 2001 Approx price: £94

On the nose, more mushroom, earth and secondary flavours but still with baked fruit tart sweetness.  On the palate amazing bright acidity and plenty of spicy fruit. Tastes a lot younger than the bouquet even though it is 12 years old. Marcel says this was a tannic year that has taken a long time to come around but it now is coming into its own.

Hermitage La Chapelle 1991

An amazing treat brought by Marcel to share with us.  And what a demonstration in what Hermitage is all about.  Marcel feels that the true expression of Hermitage is a blend of the different vineyards (Michel Chapoutier would disagree but diversity of opinion is the spice of life) and La Chapelle is mostly from Le Meal which produces riper more opulent fruit with some wine from Le Bessards which is more tannic and structured.

This wine at over 22 years is from a very good vintage overshadowed by the 1990 and 1989 vintages. Decanted for about half an hour un-agitated the nose begins as sweet celery sticks then a little soy sauce.  With air a world of aromas opens up each arriving hot on the heels of the other in that way that complex great wines have of continually giving more and more: confit de canard, candied fruits, horse leather, orange peel, oriental spices, baked blackberry pie all this in the mouth too but with great core of freshness and a salty tang. Amazing persistence and vigour, hauntingly lingering in the mouth.  Some wines cerebral and others sensual this is both, simply outstanding.

Thanks to Marie Cordonier of Maison Jaboulet for helping to organise the evening and being such a great host.

Also big thanks to Marcel Orford Williams (Wine Society) for sharing his knowledge to give such detail and colour to the evening and also for sharing this wonderful wine.

Finally we were as always well looked after by the team at http://www.bistroaix.co.uk/ serving delicious french cuisine.

These and other wines of Maison Jaboulet are available at: www.thewinesociety.com

And http://www.bibendumfinewine.com/retail

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The Northern Rhone wines of Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné May 23rd

View of La Chapelle  image courtesy of Maison Jaboulet

View of La Chapelle
image courtesy of Maison Jaboulet

The steep terraced vineyards of the Northern Rhone valley, which are tantalisingly visible from the summer traffic jams on the autoroute du soleil on the other side of the mighty Rhone river, are arguably the true home of Syrah.

The reds here are mostly 100% Syrah but wonderful perfumed whites are also produced from 100% Viognier and blends of Marsanne and Roussanne.

The long lived dark red wines of the region’s most famous appellation Hermitage were in Thomas Jefferson’s time as expensive and famous as the first growths of Bordeaux and the top wines of the region continue to be amongst the finest wines in the world.

We were therefore fantastically lucky to have one of the oldest and most revered wine makers: Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné present a selection of their best wines including the legendary Hermitage La Chapelle Rouge 2001 and 1991

The lovely Marie Cordonnier of Domaines Jaboulet  guided us through wines from drinking vintages of the main appelations including:

  • Les Grands Amandiers – Condrieu (Viognier)
  • Hermitage Blanc Le Chevalier de Sterimberg (Marsanne / Roussanne)
  • St Jospeh Le Grand Pompee (syrah)
  • Crozes-Hermitage Rouge Domaine de Thalabert.
  • Hermitage La Petite Chapelle
  • Hermitage La Chapelle

We were delighted to have Marcel Orford Williams as a guest .He not only entertained and educated us with his wealth of knowledge and personal stories but also

generously brought two bottles of Hermitage La Chapelle 1991 . For the full write up and tasting notes see above