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100 points/ This is a vintage that produced four potentially perfect Hermitages. Chapoutier’s micro-cuvée called Le Pavillon, and both of Gérard Chave’s Hermitage cuvées (the regular bottling and the limited production Cuvée Cathelin), as well as Jaboulet’s La Chapelle, all flirt with perfection. Undoubtedly, the 1990 La Chapelle is the sexiest and most opulent of these wines. I had the 1990 at the Jaboulet tasting, and again out of a double magnum three months ago. On both occasions it was spectacular, clearly meriting a three-digit score. The modern day equivalent of the 1961, it deserves all the attention it has garnered. The color remains an opaque purple, with only a slight pink at the edge. Spectacular aromatics offer up aromas of incense, smoke, blackberry fruit, cassis, barbecue spice, coffee, and a touch of chocolate. As it sits in the glass, additional nuances of pepper and grilled steak emerge. There is extraordinary freshness for such a mammoth wine in addition to abundant tannin, an amazing 60-second finish, and a level of glycerin and thick, fleshy texture that have to be tasted to be believed. Despite its youthfulness, the 1990 La Chapelle is lovely to drink, although it will be even better with another 5-6 years of cellaring; it should age for 35-40+ years. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2050.
Looking at my original notes, I observed that the late Gérard Jaboulet told me that for this particular vintage they increased the percentage of new oak to 50% (versus the 20-25% normally used), and that the maceration period was an amazing 44 days.'
In the heart of the Rhône Valley, this small chapel has become one of the world’s great historic buildings
La Chapelle, the jewel of Maison Jaboulet, has a rich and emotive history.
During the 13th century, a knight called Gaspard de Sterimberg settled in the hills of Tain l’Hermitage with the permission of Blanche de Castille. On his return from the crusades, he sought calm and serenity and isolated himself as a hermit, hence the name of the Hermitage appellation. There he built a Chapel, overlooking the Rhône Valley.
La Chapelle endured the passage of time and finally became the property of Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné in 1919.
Hermitage “La Chapelle” is a blend of terroirs, including the prestigious hillsides of Méal and Bessards. Each one provides its own aromatic characteristics, as well as an elegant tannin structure, giving the wine great ageing potential.
Since the legendary 1961 vintage, which was classed as one of the Twelve mythical wines of the 20th century, Hermitage “la Chapelle” has become one of the world’s most sought-after wines.
Its fame has led Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné to revive a historical tradition by producing a few bottles of 2006 “la Chapelle” white wine.
The diversity of “terroirs” on these lands gives our wine an identity of its own, thanks to the blending of grapes from different plots.
The Syrah vines are planted in rich and varied soils with very diverse terroirs (les Bessards, les Greffieux, le Méal and les Rocoules).
It is the richness of these different terroirs that provides our Hermitage La Chapelle with its complexity.
Very old Syrah vines; goblet pruning on stakes.
Age of the vines:
40 to 60 years.
Grapes are brought down from the slopes of l’Hermitage on small sledges, after which they are sorted by hand and vinified traditionally in our wineries
Final blending is carried out during the ageing process and is done through judicious selection from the different terroirs of l’Hermitage.
La Chapelle is aged in wood in our ancient “VINEUM” cellar for 15 to 18 months. During this process the wines are also racked.
Low yields of 10 to 18 hl/ha.
1990/ The summer drought continues until the 19th November. The first rains follow and bring the dried up rivers back to life. Cold weather and the first frosts from the 25th November to the 10th December, when the southerly wind brings a mild period with temperatures unusually high for the season.
A few violets are to be seen at the end of the year!
The cold returns on the 1st January and lasts throughout the month. A mild, rainy period sets in at the beginning of February with the appearance of the first almond blossom. This weather continues throughout the end of the winter, triggering the flowering of the apricot and peach trees on the 26th and 27th of February.
The spring is cool and wet, with rains that help growth. Flowering of the vines is almost over on the 30th May. The summer is very dry with a heat wave. At the end of July, the evening temperature reaches 38°C.
Light rains (3 to 20 mm.) fall just before the harvest, which starts on the 19th September, in ideal weather, and finish on the 1st October. The maturation of the grapes and their harvest take place under ideal conditions.
The wines will be of exceptional quality, especially the Hermitage “La Chapelle” which will come close to the famous 1961.
Average Bottle Price
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