Lunch with Friends in Tain l’Hermitage

This was an interesting tasting looking at two great vintages for the house of Chapoutier. The food was also wonderful, my favorite dish being the generous omelette with the first ceps of the season as well as the gorgeously flavorful Bresse chicken. Drunk with that were the young, still somewhat primary 2003 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon and the 2003 Chapoutier Côte Rôtie La Mordorée. As most readers know, 2003 was a bizarre vintage, but for those producers who got it right, it is a potentially monumental one that will be talked about for the next 30-40 years. Only a handful of producers had the right terroirs and the discipline to wait for the excessive drought and heat to pass. If their vineyards were not planted in sand or gravelly soils, chances are they were able to wait and pick virtually no fruit. But what was left was spectacular. The2003 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon is a wine for the ages. The 2003 Chapoutier Côte Rôtie La Mordorée may be more problematic. Revealing some jagged tannins as well as impressive levels of fruit, it may just be going through an awkward stage of development.

Approaching full maturity at age 20, both the 1991 Chapoutier Côte Rôtie La Mordorée and 1991 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon flirt with perfection. Côte Rôtie (along with Beaujolais) had the greatest success of any French appellation in 1991. Both wines exhibit secondary nuances with the Côte Rôtie exhibiting lots of graphite, licorice, roasted herb and sweet raspberry and black currant fruit. Le Pavillon reveals notes of acacia flowers, graphite, blackberries and cassis. Both possess silky tannins, concentrated, full-bodied mouthfeels and good acid profiles. Both can be consumed now, but are capable of lasting another 10-15 years, especially the Ermitage Le Pavillon.

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