søndag 22. juni 2014

Hermitage Chave vs La Chapelle

GF 23.5.2014

Hermitage 1995, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave

Moden duft med lysere fruktbilde og et delikat burgunderaktig tilsnitt. Sigar, lær og fjøs, litt bretty med underskog og sopp.. Kompleks og parfymert og vinen gir mye i glasset. Raffinert og sart nese, snev av pepper, lang ettersmak av skogsbær. Fast og solid. En deilig vin, som viser at Hermitage fra Chave bør ligge i minimum 15 år. Men ingen erketypisk klassisk Hermitage. 94 poeng.

Hermitage La Chapelle 1995, Paul Jaboulet (magnum)

Reduktiv nese med hermetikkboks/mais, lukket og således typisk solid magnum som trenger mere luft før konsum. Kjølig fruktbilde, fokusert og animalsk. Skogbunn med pepper og begynnende utvikling. Markerte tanniner og et godt jordsmonnspreg. Overraskende solid vs. Chave 95 og den stod ikke mye tilbake for denne. Kan være at magnumstørrelsen også spilte inn. Men uansett en av de siste bra Chapellene før de begynte å lage dårligere viner. 94 poeng.

Hermitage 1996, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave

Mørk i fargen, litt kokt. Varmeskadet ? Litt "bag in box" nese, snev av buljong. Ikke vurdert.

Hermitage La Chapelle 1996, Paul Jaboulet

Moden og varm nese, frisk og yppig frukt. Fremdeles gode og solide tanniner. Litt vanskelig nå. Bør ligge. 92 poeng.

Vinmøte Øistein 27.10.11; Mørk og frisk frukt med litt spiss utenpåliggende syre. Kompakt syrah med Grange preg, snev av rosin og de fleste var overseas her. Vinen bør lagres. Litt buljong og lukket og vinen går mere mot Barolo i glasset. 90 poeng.

Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1996: A really attractive hue here, still plenty of pigment, just showing some appealing maturity, but good depth. And a lovely nose too, full of youthful potential, with bittersweet cherry fruit swirled in little notes of roasted meat, smouldering embers and even touch of rather atypical garrigue. Richly creamy on entry, with a firm presence of rather svelte tannins and fresh acidity, giving a lovely sense of extract, all combined to give a delicious depth and structure. Good cherry fruit too, but overall its the appealing texture and those almost roasted, ripe tannins that impress. There is a presence, a certainty of a fine future here that I find really persuasive, assisted by a decent albeit rather tannic length. Jaboulet has been criticised (perhaps rightly) in recent years for turning out lesser wines (and has been subsequently sold by the family), but it is clear to my palate that whenever the rot set in, it was certainly after the 1996 vintage. From a 1996 vintage ten years on tasting. 18.5+/20 (December 2006)

Jaboulet was founded in the early 19th Century - history has failed to conserve the exact date for us. All we know is that when records began in 1834, there was a Jaboulet making wine in Tain l'Hermitage. This was the man credited with founding the firm of Jaboulet, Antoine. Antoine Jaboulet had twins (I know how that feels) called Henri and Paul, who were a significant driving force in developing the business, so much so that the full title of the family firm is actually Paul Jaboulet Aîné, named after the elder (aîné) of the two boys.

As the decades passed the family had an abundance of sons to look after the business. Paul's sons Louis and Henri, and Henri's sons Louis and Jean all played their part. Then in the later years of the 20th Century Gérard Jaboulet, son to Louis, took the helm. Gérard died in 1997, and following that tragic event no less than seven members of the Jaboulet family ran the business; Michel, Jacques, Philippe, Odile, Frédéric, Nicolas and Laurent made up the team. Philippe Jaboulet was Director of the Jaboulet estates, a job he took over in 1992, after a nasty scuba-diving accident left former director Jacques Jaboulet disabled. The most significant development in the history of Paul Jaboulet Aîné for many years, however, came late in 2005, with news that the business, complete with vineyards and stock of back vintages, had been sold to the Frey family, who also own Chateau La Lagune in Bordeaux. It was reported that French inheritance taxes created the need to sell, but I do wonder whether other reasons, such as a lack of a firm direction, may have played a part.

The Jaboulet range includes appellations from throughout the Rhône Valley, both north and south. It includes a decent Cotes du Rhone Parallèle 45 as well as cuvées from lesser appellations such as Coteaux du Tricastin and there is even a vin de table. As is the case with other top négociants such as Chapoutier and Delas, however, it is in the appellations of the northern Rhône that Jaboulet excels. And although the family own vines in pretty much every significant appellation, it is with Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage that Jaboulet has really established its reputation as an important player in the Rhône Valley. The jewel in the portfolio has usually been the Hermitage La Chapelle, matched only by the white Hermitage Chevalier de Sterimberg (named after the hermit that lived on the site of the chapel on the hill of Hermitage), and all told Jaboulet own approximately 25 hectares of vines on the hill, second only in terms of vineyard holdings to the local (and good value) co-operative in Tain l'Hermitage and Chapoutier. There is another old favourite in the portfolio, this being the excellent value-for-money Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert. In recent years the Jaboulet family had extended their vineyard holdings in the northern Rhône, purchasing the Domaine St Pierre in Cornas in 1993 and the once great Domaine Raymond Roure in Crozes-Hermitage in 1996. Both sites have been sources of fabulous grapes for Jaboulet, bottled bearing the recognisable Jaboulet label, but also bearing the name of the original domaine. One other northern Rhone wine worthy of mention is the St Joseph Le Grand Pompée, a longstanding feature of the Jaboulet portfolio, named after a character in La Legende des Siècles by Victor Hugo. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s many of these wines provided fans of the Rhône Valley with some delicious and elegant drinking.

Vineyard and winery practices are modern and quality orientated, with destemming, separate vinification of individual plots prior to evaluation and limited use of press wine. There is, however, use of some cultivated yeast. New oak is used for the Hermitage Chevalier de Sterimberg only, the reds go into used barrels. With the acquisition of the business by the Frey family it should come as no surprise that many of these barrels are today first used at their Haut-Médoc estate, Chateau La Lagune, where there is a policy of 100% new oak each vintage, so there is a plentiful supply of one-year old barrels to be shipped over to Tain l'Hermitage. The use of oak at Jaboulet seems sensible, varying from six months for Domaine de Thalabert up to 18 months for Hermitage La Chapelle. The wines are filtered - possibly more than once - prior to bottling.

Unfortunately, although it is without doubt that La Chapelle has been magnificent in vintages as recent as 1995 and 1996, reports from 1998 onwards suggested that quality faltered - a travesty in great vintages such as 1998 and 1999. My own tastings of the La Chapelle cuvée from these two vintages would only support this finding; they are not shocking wines per se, but when one compares them with their peers, in the context of a great vintage, it quickly becomes clear that what should be one of the top wines of the vintage and region is seriously lacking. Is this drop off in quality related to the death of Gérard Jaboulet in 1997? My own suspicion is that this is probably the case, but I suppose only the Jaboulet family themselves can really answer this question. Whatever the cause, I can only hope that this cuvée, generally sourced from vines in Les Bessards, Les Greffieux and Le Méal on the hill of Hermitage - not from the vines around the chapel as is commonly thought - sees a return to form, and perhaps the firm's acquisition by the Frey family will provide the impetus necessary to ensure this happens. One very noticeable development in the short time since they took control of the domaine is price; often released with a price tag of about £40 in the UK, the 2006 just about topped en primeur lists with a figure more than double that, approaching £100 per bottle. I look forward with interest to the opportunity to taste these more recent vintages. 

Hermitage La Chapelle 1999, Paul Jaboulet

Kefir, gjær og blåbæryogurt i nesa. Noe kokt og vanskelig i munnen, thight og reduktiv. Bør fortsatt lagres ? Viser nedturen for Chapelle. 88 poeng.

Hermitage 1999, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave

Sursøt tett frukt og et betydelig mørkere fruktbilde enn Chapelle 99. Noe italiensk over dette, fragrant og delikat munnfølelse med snev av sommerblomster. Tydelige tanniner, men samtidig elegant med skogsaromaer og krydrede blomsteressens. Jordbær, skogsbunn med kjølig og tøff struktur. Kanskje tanninene blir litt for tøffe for frukten. Genuin og korrekt 1999 årgang. Fremstår noe hard og ytterligere lagring anbefales. 93 poeng.

Hermitage La Chapelle 1998, Paul Jaboulet

Sursøt og blass på nesa. Vått papir, bra struktur og god frukt i munnen.  Litt varm og tørker på finish. Lever ikke opp til årgangens gode rykte. 87 poeng

Hermitage 1998, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave

Mere fat og søtere aromabilde. Solide tanniner, sursøt og vinen bør fortsatt lagres. Uforløst, pepper og gummi. God syre med lang ettersmak. Litt utenpåliggende moderne fatbruk og åpenbart en vin som viser årgangens potensiale. 91 poeng.

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