2016 M. Chapoutier, Le Meal, Ermitage – Price Per Case of 6 btls


Reviewed by Joe Czerwinski (97 Points)

1 in stock

SKU: R7FRRW-16BL1616 Category: Tags: , Product ID: 4930


97 Points, Joe Czerwinski , 31st October 2018

Attractively bright and fresh on the nose, the 2016 Ermitage le Meal is full-bodied yet creamy and supple in feel. Because of its greater level of ripeness, Chapoutier explains that it’s aged in 50% demi-muids to lessen the oak influence, and indeed the wine isn’t cedary at all. Espresso and mocha shadings give a savory cast to the bold blackberry fruit, while the texture turns to pure velvet on the long finish.

The dynamic Michel Chapoutier is a man in continuous motion. It must be difficult for him to stay in one place long enough for me to taste through his exhaustive lineup of Northern Rhone wines, not only those under his own label but also the Ferraton Pere et Fils collection, plus joint ventures with chefs Yannick Alleno and Anne-Sophie Pic. Those are listed under their own headings, but the M. Chapoutier reviews are all here, ranging from his entry-level Crozes Hermitage La Petite Ruche all the way up to the various selections parcellaires from Hermitage (or Ermitage, as it’s spelled on those labels). With all of the various parcel selections, Chapoutier is clearly a great believer in terroir. “In the great terroirs,” he said, “the terroir tames the power of the variety.” Chapoutier considers 2016 to be “very interesting” for whites in the north, saying, “We had enough yields to avoid overripening.” But the real stars this year are his 2015 red wines, several of which flirt with or achieve perfection.

The annual tasting session at the Chapoutier offices in Tain l’Hermitage is a half-day marathon, this year covering 50 wines under the M. Chapoutier label, plus others in various partnerships. It’s a testament to Michel Chapoutier’s dogged determination to wring the best out of his various vineyard holdings by delving down into micro-vinifications of various parcel selections, not just in Hermitage, but in the other Northern Rhone appellations as well. Yet while drilling down, Chapoutier keeps the big picture in focus as well, pointing out that climate change is having an impact in Cornas. “The oldest slopes are starting to be too hot,” he said. Meanwhile, he’s developing vineyards in the higher reaches of the appellation. In his white wines, he’s trying to keep a big portion of the carbon dioxide from fermentation in the wines. “CO2 is like salt in food,” he said. “It brings out the minerality.” Finally, Chapoutier is clearly pleased with his 2017 reds, which look to be developing nicely in the cellar. “It’s got more concentration than 2016 but bright aromatics,” he said. “It’s a good balance between 2015 and 2016.”

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