2017 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle

Year: 2017
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 98
Vinous Media: 95
James Suckling: 98
Jeb Dunnuck: 99
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
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)

"Saturated violet color. Intensely perfumed ripe black/blue fruits, violet candy, exotic spices and smoky minerals show fine definition and lift. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering deeply concentrated yet lively black raspberry, boysenberry, floral pastille and spicecake flavors and a late touch of licorice. Finishes smooth, sappy and extremely long, with chewy tannins lending shape and grip to resonating dark berry and floral notes." (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)

"Reminding me of the 2009 La Chapelle (which is a personal favorite), the brilliant 2017 Hermitage La Chapelle knocks it out of the park with its massive, opulent personality. Notes of smoked black fruits, scorched earth, burning embers, and graphite as well as subtle background meatiness flow to a monster of a Hermitage that has full-bodied richness, incredible depth of fruit, and an overwhelming, sexy style that’s already impossible to resist. Do your best to hide bottles for 4-5 years, but it’s going to evolve for 40 years or more. There are roughly 2,000 cases of this elixir, and every Syrah lover out there should have a bottle (or more) in their cellar.

Readers who love older vintages of Jaboulet’s flagship Hermitage La Chapelle should be happy with how owner Caroline Frey has managed this domaine since taking over in 2006. She has singlehandedly brought this estate back to its former glory, particularly with their Hermitage releases. Their second wine today, the Maison Bleue, is unquestionably a better wine than many past vintages of their flagship La Chapelle, and I suspect will age even longer." (JD)