2017 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle

Year: 2017
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 98
Vinous Media: 95-96
James Suckling: 98
Jeb Dunnuck: 95-97
Red Wine

Pre-Order
DUE IN: WINTER 2020

Price :
$169.95

"The 2017 Hermitage La Chapelle comes from the firm's vineyards on the western half of the Hermitage slope, primarily Le Méal, but with substantial contributions from Les Rocoules and Les Bessards. Classic notes of cassis, black olives, mocha and roasted meat are joined by hints of baking spices in a wine that's full-bodied, deep, dense and rich, with a velvety texture and a lingering finish. It's lower in alcohol than the 2018, less voluptuous and maybe just a step behind that monumental wine, but it's still a serious collectible with three decades of evolution ahead of it.

With properties now in Bordeaux (Château La Lagune), Burgundy (the former Château Corton André) and Switzerland (she purchased a vineyard in the Valais in 2016), proprietor Caroline Frey is increasingly drawn in different directions, so I was fortunate to be able to sit down with her for a few hours at Michelin-starred Maison Chabran in nearby Pont de l'Isère. She brought representative barrel samples of the 2018s, plus the bottled 2017s, which we tasted through before dining. This year, Frey was excited to show me the 2017 Côtes du Rhône Parallele 45, which is now made using only organic grapes. At up to two million bottles (red, white and rosé) per year, that's no small achievement. But as always, we spent the most time on the wines produced from the firm's own vineyards, which are all farmed biodynamically. Frey explained that they cannot be certified, as the winery also processes grapes and wines from the négociant operations. The grapes are all destemmed, although she said they will experiment with whole clusters. "When we did it in 2013, for me it was not OK," she said. She has begun doing more pigeage (punching down) in the winery, versus just remontage (pumping over). "We have good results on the texture—fleshier." The glory of Jaboulet is the legendary Hermitage La Chapelle, which is finally reflecting all of the hard work put into the vineyards by the Frey family and the Jaboulet team. "We still have many things to do," said Frey. "But I think in the past 13 years we've come a long way."" (WA)

"Brilliant magenta. A highly complex bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, cherry liqueur, incense and potpourri, while olive and exotic spice nuances build in the glass. Displays intense, alluringly sweet black/blue fruit, spicecake and violet pastille flavors that show sharp delineation and are braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Closes extremely long and precise, displaying a smoky, intensifying mineral quality and youthfully gripping tannins that build steadily." (VM)

"The icon is in dangerously seductive form. Such pristine dark cherries, blackberries and dark plums, dark chocolate, finely crushed spices and plenty of crushed dark stones on offer. The palate is very intense, very slick and fine tannins deliver an almost playfully soft impression. The oak is super integrated. Like La Maison Bleue, this approachability is an aberration, as it has immense power, concentration and length with such regal and alluring swagger at the finish. But there is so much more to come. Try from 2024, better after 2030." (JS)

"The inky colored 2017 Hermitage La Chapelle comes all from the Le Méal (50%), Les Bessards (25%), and Rocoules (25%) and was brought up in 15% new oak, with the balance in once-used, twice-used, and older barrels and demi-muids, A magical wine in the making, with some resemblance to the 2009, its deep purple color is followed by a ripe, layered, incredibly sexy wine loaded with notions of blackberries, black raspberries, crushed rocks, spice, and new saddle leather. Fresh, vibrant, and layered, with a flamboyant style that's already almost impossible to resist, it's a gorgeous wine that will keep for 3+ decades.

The big news at this benchmark estate is the loss of winemaker Jacques Desvernois to Domaine Guigal. At the time of my tasting with Caroline Frey, there was no replacement, so it will be interesting to see who comes on board. They will certainly have big shoes to fill. Nevertheless, the estate has been on an incredible roll, with their sensational 2015s last year, and now two strong vintages with their 2016s and 2017s." (JD)