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M. Chapoutier (Northern Rhône Valley, France)

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

The first stop in the 500 Wineries Northern Rhône Valley Expedition was M. Chapoutier, a major wine producer in the region and significant landowner on the hill of Hermitage. Legend has it that the famous crusades knight Gaspard de Stérimberg, who returned wounded from battle, was given the hill as a place for recovery by the Queen of France. The knight planted grapes and carried out the reminder of his life as a hermit, hence the name Hermitage. A chapel dedicated to Saint Christopher graces the top of Hermitage. M. Chapoutier owns the vines that surrounds the chapel on the hill, yet another domaine, Paul Jaboulet Aîné owns the chapel. A good wine fact! The hike through the vineyards to the top of the hill offers really great views of the Rhône River.

The M. Chapoutier wine experience consisted of two parts: a tour of the vineyards on the lower section of Hermitage followed by a wine tasting. Our host, Amandine, led us on the walk to view the lower Hermitage Syrah vines and to discuss the planting methods. M. Chapoutier plants all its vines on Hermitage using échalas, which are large poles to prevent the plants from breaking due to the cold Mistral wind blowing from the north. This was our first time experiencing the Mistral wind, and yes, it is windy and cold. If visiting the Northern Rhône, I recommend dressing in layers! After the tour of a couple vineyard plots, we strolled back to the tasting room for a tasting of eight wines. Brodi really appreciated the walk!

M. Chapoutier’s vineyard holdings span the entire Rhône Valley, and we were able to taste a wide variety of whites and reds. My two favorites were the Crozes-Hermitage white wine made from 100% Marsanne and the Cornas red wine made from 100% Syrah. All wine from Cornas must be 100% Syrah to be sold under the name Cornas. Just one of the many, many, many wine production rules in France. Although we didn’t have the privilege of tasting the M. Chapoutier Ermitage Syrah, we did learn a fun fact about their wine labeling protocol. Amandine explained that wine labeled as “Ermitage” represents wine exclusively from the single vineyard plots on the Hill of Hermitage, whereas wines labeled “Hermitage” are a blend of plots (at a much cheaper price). Our vineyard tour and tasting with Amandine was free, though M. Chapoutier offers a wide range of experiences that include an exclusive tasting of white and red Ermitage wines.

Experience Rating: 3 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 1 Paw Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Vibe: Private Experience, Vineyard Tour, Standing Bar Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes (Contact winery via website)

Language(s): English and French

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