Wine Tasting: Hermitage La Chapelle Tasting (and More??) (17th Apr 1999)

This was an incredible tasting - one of the most impressive I've ever attended.
Eleven vintages of Jaboulet's stunning top syrah, with Penfolds Grange (!) and Chapoutier's Pavillon thrown in as ringers! After this I can probably hang up my ISOs for good :-)
The wines were presented blind in the following flights:

  • 1-3: Chapelle '96, 95 and '94.
  • 4-5: Chapelle '91 and '92
  • 6-7: Chapelle '89 and Grange '89
  • 8-10: Chapelle '88, '87 and '85
  • 11-12: Chapelle '78, '90 and Pavillon '89.
(I'm still in shock as I write these up - Thanks Simon and Dawn!)

1. 1996 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Opaque purple/red with a pink/purple rim - viscous from a recent, decent vintage.
Quite tight and stalky on the nose with a solid core of mulberry and plum fruit.
Full bodied with sweet cassis and plum fruit, firm tannins, warm rich acidity and peppery oak on the long, concentrated finish. Needs 5 to 6 years.

2. 1995 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep red/purple fading evenly to reddish rim - some maturity.
Tight on the nose, with some development and tar and mulberry aromas - Needs time.
Medium to full bodied, still tight and stalky but showing plenty of cassis.
Quite dry with dusty tannins, a bit shorter on the finish than the 1996. Could do with another few years.

3. 1994 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep, even red fading to pinkish red at the rim - a more mature wine.
Much more open on the nose with raisined fruit, some spice and old oak.
Lush, rich and sweet with sweet cassis fruit, juicy acidity and firm tannins.
Much better length and concentration and showing much more maturity.
[Not as classic a vintage as the first two, but much much better drinking at the moment and over the next 3/4 years. I spotted this as the '94]

4. 1991 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted blind]
Deep red, gradually fading to garnet - Mature.
Opulent and plummy with a dank, mushroomy, vegetal nose and a touch of old oak - Wow!
Medium to full bodied with a rich, mouthfilling texture; sweet, raisined plum and cassis fruit; excellent concentration and balance; and a gorgeous, long, leathery finish.
Very good now, but will go for another 4 to 6 years.

5. 1992 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep garnet, fading to a reddish brown at the rim.
Slightly tight and stalky, with a hint of shit and developed ripe fruit notes.
Medium to full, with sweet, spicy cassis and plum fruit, lovely rounded texture and a long, minty, spicy finish.
Good now, but needs a few more years to open out.

6. 1989 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep, even purple/red, red at rim.
Opulent and meaty on the nose with savoury, yeast-extract aromas combining with mint and cassis.
Sweet and full, with mint and cassis fruit, some vegetal, mushroomy flavours, and a long peppery, dry finish.
Very impressive now and showing some development, but will go for another decade or more.
[Guess: 1990]

7. 1989 Penfolds Grange

17th Apr 1999 Australia Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Opaque purple/red, some paling at rim.
Dense, alcoholic nose of mint and cassis - fabulously concentrated and pure. [Guess: Australian Shiraz]
Full bodied and intense with a creamy texture, incredibly pure cassis flavours, a dash of toasted oak, and a long, long finish.
[Guess: Jim Barry's Armagh Shiraz?]

8. 1988 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep red with some browning at rim.
Still closed on the nose with some vegetal, dank notes and red berry fruit.
Full bodied with intensely sweet cassis/plum fruit and a warm, leathery, spicy finish.
Soft,savoury and mature, this is drinking now but will keep going for another 2 to 3 years.
[Very good - a mature wine from one of the lesser vintages?]

9. 1987 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Red/Brown fading evenly to a pink/red rim - mature.
Quite dusty and dry on the nose, with a hint of aniseed and leather.
Full bodied, intense and concentrated - much weightier and livelier than the nose would suggest.
Sweet figs and cassis fruit, mint and tobacco flavours last through to a long, creamy finish.
Superb - Drink now.

10. 1985 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep garnet fading to pink/brown at the rim - more mature than the previous two wines.
Intense nose of liquorice and milky coffee, with vegetal, shitty notes coming through at the end.
Very full bodied with sweet plum/fig fruit, spice and some tannin still showing through. Oaky and peppery on the long, dry finish.
Needs some more time.

11. 1978 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Opaque purple/red fading evenly to a pink/brown at the rim.
Filthy, dank, mushroomy, complex, perfumed, slightly stalky, volatile nose - Stunning! I would kill for this stuff!
Medium to full bodied with very intense flavours of sweet black coffee, raspberries, plums, leather and cream.
Some charred oak and bitter tannins coming through on a slightly short finish.
A touch lighter than some of the others, but in a class of its own. Drink now.

12. 1990 PJA Hermitage Chapelle

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Opaque purple/red with just a touch of fading at the rim. [Possibly not La Chapelle?]
Tight nose with some spice and red berry fruit - needs lots of time.
Full bodied and intense with a rounded, creamy texture; pure cassis fruit; firm tannins and fresh acidity; and a long intense, oaky finish.
Will be superb in 5 to 15+ years...
[Young, top vintage La Chapelle]

13. 1989 Chapoutier Ermitage Pavillon

17th Apr 1999 Rhone Table Red

[Tasted Blind]
Deep red/purple fading evenly to a mature brick red.
Alcoholic with dank, shitty notes, some redcurrant fruit and lightly charred oak - has some development but needs lots of time.
Very full bodied with sweet cassis fruit, a gorgeous velvety texture, warm acidity and submerged tannins.
Showing some maturity but really needs at least 2/3 years.
[Guess: US Syrah.
This wine highlighted what a consistency of style the Jaboulet wines have. Although the wines from different vintages had different weights and flavours, they had a very consistent style which made the two ringers really stand out. The Pavillon was very impressive, but jarred slightly after so many Chapelles]

 
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