- WinemakerCaroline Frey
- Farming MethodBiodynamic Practices
Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2020
Fantastic new release of one of the world’s most eternally iconic wines… THE heralded “La Chapelle” – need I say more? Ok, how about this...40-100-year-old, biodynamically farmed vines on the best plots of the revered Hermitage hill...a wine built to shine over the decades...described by one top critic as a “Hermitage masterpiece”...and available (in limited quantities) in 750s, magnums, 3 liters, and 6 liters!
If you didn’t know already, The 1961 Jaboulet “La Chapelle” is considered one of the top wines ever made, with Robert Parker, Jr. calling it “one of the three or four greatest red wines I have ever tasted.” (and he’s tasted a fair few wines over the years...maybe even more than us)! This wine almost single-handedly catapulted syrah, Northern Rhone, and specifically, Hermitage into the conversation of the greatest wine in the world and Jaboulet became a household name amongst wine lovers the world over as a result. This is the sort of wine that will silence a room.
It wasn’t all sunshine and good times, however. The Jaboulet holdings were purchased in 2006 after decades of family squabbles had decreased the quality of the wines from around the 1980s onward (it happens with most of the old, great estates...) the Jaboulet holdings were purchased in 2006 by the Frey Family. Minority owners of Champagne’s Billecart-Salmon and outright holders of Bordeaux’s Château La Lagune – The Freys picked up the pieces, converted to organic and biodynamic farming, lowered yields, and renewed focus on re-establishing the BEST. SYRAH. IN THE WORLD.
This new release is stunning – a taut and poised “La Chapelle” that has the potential to one day be counted among the very, very best. Somewhat lean and austere here in its youth, without the explosive roundness of the previous few vintages, this is perhaps a more classic, ethereal, and long-lived style that savvy collectors will leap at – especially in large formats! Most of the syrah hails from the magical lieu-dit of Le Méal, with the remainder stemming from the equally revered Les Bessards parcel, near the top of Hermitage’s round hill. I poured a glass and paid careful attention over the course of an entire afternoon. It’s almost pointless to try and list the sensations I experienced – this is as layered and complex a beast as you will ever experience in the world of wine. It’s almost infinite in its permutations, and aeration continually unlocks another experience, a subtle nuance, and variation on a theme, and some new delight is lurking around every corner of this incredibly faceted wine. Truly, a wine for the ages. A cellar centerpiece. And one to have – but ideally not to touch – just yet.
PAIRING IDEAS: Lamb stew is how this is going to roll. Hunks of the shoulder, seared and seasoned, then braised in red wine and lots of stock. Load it all up with aromatic herbs and veggies, and once it’s tender, separate the lamb and puree it all to thicken. Finish with olives, pearl onions, and more herbs, and serve with crusty, rustic bread. Then give me a call and I’ll come right over!!!