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February 06, 2014

Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2009

Jaboulet chapelle label

Since World War II Jaboulet has established itself as the leading global brand in the Rhone and their jewel vineyard Le Chapelle is the epitome of all great wine produced in the valley. Hermitage La Chappelle is truly remarkable and distinct with a rich and emotive history. It is one of the most beautiful vineyards in the world and is certainly one of the greatest and most acclaimed.

In 2009 Jaboulet produced their highest scoring La Chapelle since the 1990 vintage and Robert Parker states that the 97+ scoring 2009 is ‘easily the greatest, most profound La Chapelle since the 1990’, which today costs £2,300 for a half case. The 96 point 1989 trades at £2,000 per half case, while the 100 point 1978 has reached £3,000 per half case. It is very likely the 2009 will achieve the auspices of 100 points one day, however at £725 per half case it is incredible value for 97+ points.

La Chapelle Hermitage
Hermitage is the most famous, the highest quality and longest lived wine of the Northern Rhone appellation. The name Hermitage comes from the legend where a wounded knight came back from the crusades and sort refuge, living there as a hermit. The Chapel of St. Christopher still stands at the top of Hermitage today. The vineyard that boasts this artifact has been owned solely since 1919 by Maison Paul Jaboulet Aine and it is from where La Chapelle derives its name. The vineyard’s incredibly steep slopes faces south-west and the old Syrah vines see warmth through the day and early evening: the view from the vineyard is simply breath-taking allowing one to see the valley in its full panoramic splendour.

The Syrah is planted on rich and diverse soil (les Bessards, les Greffieux, le Meal and les Rocoules). The soil components are granite arenas covered with mica-schist and gneiss, with deposits of round and alluvial pebbles. It is from this multiplicity that La Chappelle derives its world famous complexity. The vines which have an average age of 40-60 years are trained on goblet shaped stakes, necessary due the extreme aspect of the hillside – one has to see it to believe it. Yields are incredibly low at less than 10 to 18 hl/ha and the grapes are brought down on sledges, sorted by hand and vinified traditionally in the winery. Final blending is completed during the ageing process, where the wine spends 15-18 months in wood, completing judicious selection from the different terroirs of Hermitage. Only 80,000 bottles or 6,500 cases are made every year. The Jaboulets sold their vineyard to entrepreneur Jean-Jacques Frey in 2006, the great 2009 vintage is the best wine made under his ownership and a must for all Rhone lovers and fine wine collectors alike.

La Chappelle is full-bodied like a Pauillac, with deep inky colour. It is extremely aromatic with raspberry, dark berry and smoke aromas, with herbal characteristics such as rosemary, developing a wonderful bouquet of spices, cedar wood and berries. The body is velvety supported by immensely ripe and round tannin, the finish is always fresh and beautifully balanced. Simply put it is one of the most remarkable wines in the world.

Robert Parker 97+ points, tasted Dec 2011
“As I wrote last year, the 2009 Hermitage La Chapelle is easily the greatest, most profound La Chapelle since the 1990. Most of this cuvee comes from Le Meal and Les Bessards vineyards, with a touch of Les Roucoules fruit in the blend. It is an opaque purple-colored wine with enormous concentration in addition to an extraordinary bouquet of graphite, creme de cassis, blackberries, licorice, beef blood and a touch of smoked game. Boasting phenomenal intensity, a full-bodied mouthfeel and 50 years of longevity, the only thing that could possibly hold it back is that most consumers should plan on laying it away for 8-10 years.”

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