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Paul Jaboulet – Majestic Wines from the Northern Rhone

“La Chapelle” means chapel.  The northern Rhone appellation Hermitage is actually a single big, thousand foot hill on top of which sits a small chapel.  The story goes that a 13th century knight returning from the crusades and wounded in war, stopped to rest at the hill and eventually asked the Queen of France to grant it as his sanctuary.  He worked the vines that had grown there since Roman times and there is a 19th century chapel, reconstructed on the spot where he had built one for himself, which commemorates the hermit knight.
Hermitage has for centuries been known as one of the great wine terroirs of the world, rivaling those in Bordeaux or Burgundy.  Thomas Jefferson was an enthusiast.  At 300 acres, the appellation is only about the size of a large Bordeaux estate.  The house of Paul Jaboulet Aine has been making wine from Hermitage since 1834 and owns 54 acres in some of the best locations, or lieu-dits, of the appellation.  They make very small quantities of very long-lived Reds from 100% Syrah which are considered some of the world’s best wines for cellaring.  Some 20th century vintages are legendary and Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson and others have stated that the La Chappelle ‘61 is one of the top tasting experiences of their career.   
Jaboulet La Chapelle rivals Bordeaux 1st growths in its complexity, with a broad palate of bright and dark fruit flavors when young, but will pick up savory gamey, leather and earth notes with age.  If under twelve years of age La Chapelle should be decanted for 2-3 hours or more.  A La Chapelle from a good vintage will age for 20 – 60 years. 

Since 2006 Jaboulet has been owned by the Frey family, owners of the Champagne house Billecart-Salmon and of Chateau La Lagune in Bordeaux.  Caroline Frey, the eldest daughter of the family, has a degree in oenology and is the head winemaker.  Under her leadership the winery has converted to organic and biodynamic practices.
We also have Jaboulet’s Thalabert bottling from their vineyard in nearby Crozes Hermitage.  Jaboulet has owned this property since the 19th century and vine age is between 40 to 60 years.  The wines of Crozes Hermitage are a little lighter and a little more approachable earlier than those of its imposing neighbor.  2018 was a classic vintage for both wines, see reviews below.  Drink Thalabert at your end-of-summer balcony or backyard barbecue, and save the La Chapelle for a special future occasion.  
Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 2018
Regular $224.99
Sale Price $199.97
Wine advocate, 98-100 – “Jaboulet’s 2018 Hermitage La Chapelle features scents of crushed stone, violets and cassis. It’s a classic trio, backed by a wine that’s full-bodied, rich and powerful yet also airy, somehow carrying intense plum and black olive flavors without any sense of heaviness or excess weight. Then the wine finishes long and softly dusty, with tannins that accentuate its savory character, picking up delicious hints of licorice at the very end. The proportion of new oak has been trimmed back to a very reasonable 20% and is hardly noticeable in the wine.”
Jeb Dunnuck, 97-99 –  “A deep, powerful, primordial wine (which is exactly what you’d expect for a great vintage of this cuvee), the inky hued 2018 Hermitage La Chapelle offers tons of creme de cassis as well as a liquid rock-like minerality, peppery herbs, burning embers, and graphite aromas and flavors. The palate mirrors the intensity of the bouquet and is full-bodied, concentrated, and tight, yet still packs a huge amount of baby fat. The 2018 is a beautifully pure, balanced, massively endowed La Chapelle that will need a decade of cellaring and keep for 3-4 decades with no problems.”
Vinous, 96 – “Opaque ruby. Displays powerful, highly perfumed aromas of black/blue fruit preserves, licorice, cola, baking spices and potpourri, along with an exotic suggestion of incense. Utterly stains the palate with intense blackberry, cherry, cassis, floral pastille and spicecake flavors that deliver a suave blend of weight and energy. Youthfully solid tannins add shape and grip to an extremely long, mineral- and floral-accented finish that shows outstanding clarity and dark fruit thrust.”

Paul Jaboulet Aine Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage 2018
Regular $39.99
Sale Price $29.97

Wine Advocate, 93-95 pts. – “Although the fruit sourcing has changed from the old days, the 2018 Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert remains a solid offering in the Jaboulet lineup. Violets accent blackberries and plums on the nose, while the palate is full-bodied, lush and velvety, underscored by doses of salinity and licorice on the lengthy finish.”

Jeb Dunnuck, 92-94 pts. – “The 2018 Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert comes from deeper, pebbly soils and is a full-bodied, opulent wine. Notes of blackcurrants, tobacco leaf, ground pepper, and melted licorice all flow to a full-bodied wine that has tons of baby fat as well as sound underlying structure.”

Past Cellar Selections:
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Magic in Burgundy
Don Melchor 2015 – 98pts!
Tignanello 2017
Domaine Lapierre - The Original Natural Winemaker
Muga ‘Selección Especial’ 2015 – Classic Rioja
Domaine A. et P. de Villaine – Budget DRC?
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar
Castilla Ygay 2010 – at 98 pts a ‘First Growth’ Rioja
Chateau Troplong Mondot St. Emilion 2017 – 98pts!
More Great Brunello from 2015 – 99pts Casanova di Neri
Ramirez Gran Reserva Rioja 2010 – Budget Addition to the Cellar
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet
Cornas and Côtes-du-Rhone from Franck Balthazar
Quintessa 2016 – 98pt Bordeaux Blend from Napa

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