Maison Chapoutier, the family-owned, Hermitage-based
merchant firm on the Left Bank (?) of the Rhone
, has returned to prominence since the late 1980s. Since taking over from his father, Max, Michel Chapoutier has dramatically increased quality with a hands-off approach to winemaking based on biodynamic farming. The reasoning? To allow terroir to fully express itself. This same philosophy also underpins the aversion to manipulation in the cellar.
The tradition of winemaking at Maison Chapoutier has been carried out for over 100 years. Michel's distant relative, Polydor Chapoutier, first purchased vineyards in the Rhone in 1879. Since then, the family has continued to acquire vineyard land and has expanded as far as Australia
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, and Viognier
are harvested from several appellations throughout the northern and southern Rhone, but Chapoutier's top class of wines come exclusively from Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Cornas
, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Hermitage Syrahs and Marsannes, all single site bottlings, are widely recognized as Maison Chapoutier's top wines.
The finest rendition of Viognier comes from the small Rhone Valley appellation of Condrieu, where the best wines from steep, granite-rich slopes show an exotic perfume of peach, apricot, pear, spring flowers, and honeysuckle; a rich but normally dry middle palate; and an overall sense of delicacy. A growing number of wines are being made with substantial residual sugar, but the trend to increasing...
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