Red, Drink now

1991 Hermitage, La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

1991 Hermitage, La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Red | Drink now | Jaboulet | Code:  914784 | 1991 | France > Rhône > Hermitage | Southern Rhône Blend | Full Bodied, Dry | 13.5 % alcohol


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The Producer



Jaboulet produces some of the world's greatest wines in Rhone with Hermitage La Chapelle being its most famous wine.

Jaboulet was for many years run by Gérard Jaboulet, who was one of the great ambassadors for Rhône wines, tirelessly travelling the world and spreading the Gospel according to the Holy Grail of Hermitage. He died suddenly in 1997 and the firm has been run by Philippe &  Jacques Jaboulet, until 2006 when the real estate entrepreneur Jean-Jacques Frey purchased the wine company.

The Frey family has  of long standing in the Champagne region and are owners of Château La Lagune in Bordeaux.  Jacques and Nicolas Frey are now involved in the day-to-day running of the Maison Jaboulet, while Caroline Frey (pictured right), the eldest daughter, is at the helm of the wine-making team. Under Caroline’s leadership, in 2006, the vineyards earned Sustainable Farming status while Jaboulet's winegrowing is in the course of conversion towards biodynamic certification. 

Jaboulet produces wine from 26 different appellations in the Rhône. Hermitage La Chapelle is named after the small hermit's Chapel built in 1235 on the Hermitage hill, the wine 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.

Jaboulet's 45-hectare Domaine de Thalabert vineyard in Crozes Hermitage produces very high quality wines which are superior to most growers` Hermitages.

The Grape

Southern Rhône Blend

Southern Rhône Blend

The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.

The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.

The Region



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: ChaveJabouletChapoutierFerratonColombier
Best vintages: 2006, 2005, 2004, 2001, 1999, 1997, 1991, 1990, 1985

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