1993 Ermitage Le Pavillon Chapoutier

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Average critic rating : 93.0 points



Young Michel Chapoutier continues to raise considerable controversy wherever he goes. His unequivocable belief in the principles of Bio-Dynamic farming and his youthful confidence, that may come across as arrogance and a display of too little respect for his more experienced and more elderly peers, have not made life easy for Chapoutier, despite the number of great wines he has produced. This is all lamentable given the fact that Michel Chapoutier would be the first to acknowledge the debt he owes producers such as Marcel Guigal, Gerard Chave, Francois and Jean-Pierre Perrin, and Jacques Reynaud for leading the way. Producers who are as committed to quality as Chapoutier should attract supporters rather than detractors. The work which Chapoutier is doing, along with the work of many other top Rhone Valley producers only creates more interest in the wines of that region. Chapoutier is extremely pleased with his 1994s, claiming it is a vintage not far removed from the powerful 1990. The crop size was extremely small, with yields generally between 1-2 tons of fruit per acre. Where pertinent, I have indicated lot numbers because of complaints about bottle variation with certain cuvees of the Chapoutier wines, most notably the firm's branded wines, Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonnieres, St.-Joseph Deschants, and the two cuvees of Hermitage, Chante Alouette and La Sizeranne. Bottle variation can be the result of a number of factors, such as dissimilar blends (unlikely at this winery) or poor shipping and/or storage conditions, thus abusing the wine (the most likely culprit). Among the Chapoutier red wine offerings from Crozes-Hermitage and St.-Joseph, the 1993s are noticeably less impressive today than they were when tasted prior to bottling. Since no fining or filtering is done, it is hard to envision why the wines taste so much more tannic and less opulent and rich than they did earlier. Michel Chapoutier believes he should have bottled his regular 1993 cuvees earlier to preserve the fruit as this vintage's fruit was fragile and began to disappear at an extremely early age. The 1994s exhibit greater color, ripeness, and richness than the 1993s. The greatest wine of the Chapoutier portfolio is the spectacular Ermitage Le Pavillon. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and made from a parcel of 80-year old vines on the two hillside vineyards of Les Bessards (also the backbone component of Chave's Red Label luxury Cuvee Cathelin) and Le Meal, this is Hermitage at its most concentrated and intense. Yields are generally about 15-18 hectoliters per hectare. This wine requires 8-10 years of cellaring and is capable of lasting 40-50 years. The 1989, 1990, and 1991 Ermitage Le Pavillon (Chapoutier drops the H in deference to the way Hermitage was spelled in the last century) are potentially legendary wines, but they have long been sold out. No Le Pavillon since 1991 is a candidate for perfection, but the 1992, 1993, and 1994 are all exceptional wines. The 1993 Le Pavillon is the Hermitage of the vintage. More austere than when I tasted it prior to bottling, it is one of the few 1993s with a sweet inner-core of fruit, as well as a dense ruby/purple color, outstanding concentration and extract, and huge tannin in the finish. It is a harder style of Le Pavillon than the 1992, but it should turn out to be a 40-50 year wine. Importer: Paterno Imports, Chicago, IL. tel. (312) 247-7070. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate # 102.


Chapoutier has received more perfect 100 point scores from Robert Parker than any other winery, leading to Robert Parker saying that: “Michel Chapoutier's enthusiasm and commitment to exceptional, naturally made wines is a winemaking triumph, as well as a clear victory for all who care about the quality of wine.” Parker has also described Michel Chapoutier as “the world’s leading irreverent genius in winemaking and winemaking philosophy.” This has made Maison M. Chapoutier’s wines, alongside those of Etienne Guigal, some of the, if not the, most sought after wines from the Rhône Valley.

In 2016, Chapoutier was named the most admired French wine brand by Drinks International. Topping this annual list, put together by over 200 Masters of Wine, sommeliers, teachers and journalists, demonstrates the continuous improvement of quality, reflection of terroir and global appeal attained by this winery.



Although they produce a large range of classic wines that are perfect for immediate drinking, it is their finest wines, the téte de cuvées, also known as Sélections Parcellaires or Single Vineyard Selections, which should be on every collector’s radars. These terroir-driven wines have the ability to age for several decades and hail from single plots of 50-100 year old vines in Côte-Rôtie (La Mordorée), Crozes-Hermitage (Les Varonniers), Hermitage or Ermitage as they call it (De l’Orée, L’Ermite, Le Méal, Le Pavillon, Les Greffieux and a sweet wine called Vin de Paille), Saint-Joseph (Le Clos and Les Granits) and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Barbe Rac and Croix de Bois). These always high-scoring wines are the embodiment of terroir and are only produced in the hundreds of cases. So high is the demand for them that Chapoutier have started to release them En Primeur.

Due to Chapoutier’s attention to detail, the quality of their wine is extremely high even in lesser vintages. However, in exceptional vintages they truly excel. 2015, 2013 and 2010 were strong in both Northern and Southern Rhône, 2009, 2003 and 1999 offer excellent quality in the North as do 2007, 2001, 2000 and 1998 in the South. 1990, 1961 and 1947 have been described as legendary.

For those looking for something off-the-beaten-track, the hotly-tipped Bila-Haut wines from Roussillon demonstrate what a master of finding and exploiting terroir Michel Chapoutier is.



Maison M. Chapoutier is one of the undisputed elite of Rhône wine, if not the world. Based in Tain l’Hermitage, this winery and négociant business produces over seven million bottles of wine a year from the very southern extent of the Rhône Valley, through Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueyras and up to the major appellations of the Northern Rhône. And it is here in the Northern Rhone that it makes its most famous wines; Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie.

Although this is a family-owned winery that is able to trace its roots within the region back through seven generations to 1808, it is not stuck in the mire of tradition and history. As its motto: “fac et spera” - which translates as do and hope - suggests, the focus is very much on innovation, modernity and the unorthodox.

Michel Chapoutier took control of the family business in 1988 and the quality of the wines produced skyrocketed. He has pushed his preference for single varietal wines, championed Rhône whites, introduced complete destemming before fermentation, converted all of the estate’s vineyards to biodynamic farming, reduced manipulation in the winery by avoiding acidification, filtration, fining and over-oaking and introduced braille labelling.

Not satisfied with that, Michel’s penchant for Champagne has driven him to produce one in collaboration with Devaux. This incredibly prolific man and team also own estates in Alsace, Roussillon, Australia and Portugal, as well as collaborating with French multiple Michelin star chefs Anne-Sophie Pic in Saint-Péray and the surrounding area (see Pic & Chapoutier) and Yannick Alléno in Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage, and Michel has even expressed a desire to make wine in the UK.

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