2016 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee Le Pavillon Rouge

Year: 2016
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 97
Wine Advocate: 100
Vinous Media: 96
James Suckling: 95-96
Jeb Dunnuck: 99
Wine Enthusiast: 96
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%

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"Smoldering black tea, bay leaf and tobacco hints swirl around a core of gently mulled black cherry and blackberry fruit flavors, ending with singed mesquite and sassafras notes. Sneakily long. This will take time to unwind in the cellar. Best from 2021 through 2040. 48 cases imported. -JM" (WS)

"Aged entirely in barriques (25% new), the 2016 Ermitage le Pavillon shows only a hint of warm pencil shavings on the nose, beautifully setting up notes of fresh blackcurrants. Full-bodied, concentrated and plush across the mid-palate, it turns rich and velvety on the nearly endless finish, marked by savory notes of beef, licorice and espresso. If you wish to catch a glimpse of this wine's greatness, it would be no crime to open a bottle upon release, as I suspect it will close down for a number of years soon afterward.

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 Rhône 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."" (WA)

"Brilliant purple. Highly expressive black and blue fruit scents are complemented by building floral pastille, exotic spice and smoky mineral flourishes. Sweet and penetrating in the mouth, offering deeply concentrated black raspberry, boysenberry and spicecake flavors that become more lively on the back half. Shows outstanding clarity and minerally cut on the strikingly long finish, which features fine-grained tannins and resonating florality." (VM)

"Very impressive, ripe, dark plums and blackberries with an array of fresh, sweetly fragrant, woody spices. Star anise and sarsaparilla in particular. The palate has thrilling, mid-palate intensity with powerful tannins folding around ripe, black-fruit flavors. From organically grown grapes. Barrel sample." (JS)

"More structured and tannic, yet sensationally concentrated, the 2016 Ermitage Le Pavillon comes all from the broken granite soils of the Bessards lieu-dit and was brought up in just 30% new French oak. It gives up awesome notes of blue fruits, crushed rocks, graphite, and lit gunpowder. Rich, full-bodied, and incredibly massive and opulent on the palate, yet with serious amounts of tannins, extract, and depth, it's a tour de force and one of the gems in the vintage as well as a monumental Hermitage. Hide bottles for 5-7 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following 4-5 decades.

The estate of firebrand Michel Chapoutier continues to operate on all cylinders, and these latest 2016 and 2017 releases are world class for this address. The 2017 whites show the gradual change toward a more reductive style of winemaking, and the wines at times have an almost Burgundian feel in their minerality, acidity, and texture. Nevertheless, they’re fabulously concentrated and rich and will need 2-4 years of cellaring. The 2016 whites showed beautifully, and I prefer those to the 2017s. The majority of the 2017 reds were tasted as barrel samples. This is a ripe, sexy, expressive vintage for the Northern Rhône, and this shows in the wines. The 2017s don’t appear to have the density of the more blockbuster styled 2015s, yet they have expressive, sunny characters that will deliver loads of charm. The 2016s having slightly more density and cooler-climate styled aromatics, yet are nevertheless some of the richest, sexiest wines in the vintage. In addition to the frightfully expensive top-tier cuvées, don’t miss the value releases from this estate. These wines max out the QPR scale and are great introductions into the wines of Chapoutier as well as the Rhône Valley." (JD)

"Luminous blackberry and raspberry flavors are edged by shards of stone and smoke in this deeply fruity but intensely mineral Syrah. It’s fresher and brighter in fruit than the producer’s other 2016 Hermitage, full bodied but taut and bracing in feel. Rigid tannins should meld as the wine opens and gains complexity. Best enjoyed from 2022, it should reward cellaring well through 2040." (WE)

Winery Notes
Unlike Burgundy and Bordeaux, the Rhône does not have an official cru (vineyard) classification system. There are, however, lieux-dits, “named places” or place names that denote vineyard sites and plots within each appellation. Chapoutier owns some of the most famous plots in the Rhône, including 34 hectares within the tiny Hermitage appellation. This collection of highly sought after wines is coined "Selections Parcellaires". These exceptional wines are created organically and biodinamically and imported to the United States once per year.

This rarity (only 600 cases produced annually over 4 hectares) comes from the granite soils of the "lieu-dit," Les Béssards. Its vines are positioned at a lower-altitude band of the Hermitage Hill, at approximately 130 meters, above the ruins of a stone house that gives it its name. The tiny yields here (20 HL/HA) and a fermentation regimen of avoiding stem contact in a 24 to 28 day maceration, make this a deep, brooding, yet supple wine. Its aging capacity is easily 80-100 years, but its style is much more approachable than the traditional wines from this parcel. It has taken the lead position as M. Chapoutier's vintage statement for well over a decade.