2014 Hermitage, La Chapelle, Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Rhône
Jeb Dunnuck - 28/12/2016
About this WINE
Paul Jaboulet Aîné are iconic in the Rhône. Founded in 1834 by Antoine Jaboulet (father of Paul), it was Paul’s son, Louis and grandson, Gérard who can be heralded among the great ambassadors for both the region and the négociant. Upon Gérard’s untimely death in 1997, the business began struggling and was sold to the Frey family in 2005.
Jacques and Nicolas Frey are involved in the daily running of the Maison Jaboulet, while Caroline Frey has been at the helm of winemaking since 2006. She immediately began converting the estate to sustainable farming and they were certified organic in 2016. In 2022, Jean-Guillaume Prats, of Bordeaux fame, was brought onboard. You might notice two of the domaine’s top wines – La Chapelle Rouge and Chevalier de Stérimberg – are absent from our offer. This was not an oversight – these will be released via “La Place de Bordeaux” in September, so please do watch out for those later in the year.
Hermitage is the most famous of all the northern Rhône appellations. The hill of Hermitage is situated above the town of Tain and overlooks the town of Tournon, just across the river. Hermitage has 120 hectares and produces tiny quantities of very long-lived reds.The vines were grown in Roman times, although local folklore claims their origins to be nearly 600 years earlier. The name ‘Hermitage’ first appeared in the 16th century, derived from a legend of the 13th century Crusade, involving a wounded knight called Gaspard de Stérimberg, who made refuge on the hill, planted vines and became a hermit.
During the 17th century Hermitage was recognised as one of the finest in Europe. In 1775, Ch. Lafite was blended with Hermitage and was one of the greatest wines of its day. In the late 19th century, however, Phylloxera wiped out all the vineyards.
The wines are powerful, with a deep colour and firm tannins, developing into some of the finest examples in France, with the potential to age for many decades. The best Hermitage is produced from several climats or more, blended together. The main climats are Les Bessards, Le Meal, L’Hermite, Les Greffieux and Les Diognieres. Most of the finest climats face broadly south, giving maximum sunshine. Most growers only have one or two climats and they might not complement each other; Hermitage quality can therefore vary hugely. Only the top producers have extensive diversified holdings.
Eighty percent of the wine produced is red, however up to 15 percent of white grapes can be used in the blend. Most growers use 100 percent Syrah and utilise the white grapes to make white wines only. Chapoutier, Jaboulet and Tain l’Hermitage Co-operative are the principle proprietors of the appellation’s vineyards.
The white wines are made from the Marsanne and Roussanne grapes. Great white Hermitage has the ability to age, taking on the fruit characters of apricots and peaches, often giving a very nutty finish. The best examples in great vintages can last 50 years.
Mature red Hermitage can be confused with old Bordeaux. In a blind tasting of 1961 First Growth Clarets, the famous 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle was included. Most people, including its owner, Gerard Jaboulet, mistook it for Ch. Margaux.
Recommended producers: Chave, Jaboulet, Chapoutier, Ferraton, Colombier
Best vintages: 2006, 2005, 2004, 2001, 1999, 1997, 1991, 1990, 1985
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
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Jaboulet produces some of the world's greatest wines in the Rhone with Hermitage La Chapelle being its most famous offering. Named after the small hermit's Chapel built in 1235 on the Hermitage hill, La Chapelle regularly rivals Bordeaux 1st Growths for its incredible array of flavours - fruity and enticing when young but acquiring complex leathery and gamey overtones with age. The 1961 is considered by many as the Holy Grail of the wine world with the 1978 not far behind.
For many years Jaboulet was run by Gérard Jaboulet, who was one of the great ambassadors for Rhône wines, tirelessly travelling the world and promoting the virtues of Hermitage. He died suddenly in 1997 and the firm was then run by Philippe & Jacques Jaboulet, until 2006 when the real estate entrepreneur Jean- Jacques Frey purchased the company.
The Frey family has large holdings in the Champagne house Billecart-Salmon and also owns Château La Lagune in Bordeaux so their credentials for taking over this illustrious estate could hardly be better. Jacques and Nicolas Frey are now involved in the day-to-day running of Maison Jaboulet, while Caroline Frey, the eldest daughter, is at the helm of the wine-making team that also draws on the expertise of well-known wine consultant Denis Dubordieu. Under Caroline’s leadership, in 2006, the vineyards earned Sustainable Farming status and winegrowing is on course for conversion to biodynamic certification.
La Chapelle is a blend of four of the best vineyards within the Hermitage appellation - Les Bessards, Les Greffieux, Le Méal and Les Rocoules. It is the richness of these different terroirs along with the 40-60 year old vines that provides La Chapelle with the complexity and depths that have made it one of the most sought after wines of the Rhone.
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