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The Wines

25-50% Le Méal, with Les Bessards, Greffieux, and Rocoules and Murettes, av age 40 yrs, destemmed, crop cooled at 12-14°C, 3-week vinification (10 days alcoholic fermentation at 25/26°C, max 30°C, then 12 days maceration), pumping overs, some micro-bullage to oxygenate, vat-raised for malo, then aged 20% new, 80% 1-2-3 year 228-litre oak casks 12 months (until 2007 then aged 20% new oak, 40% each 1-2 year oak casks 12-18 months), then vat 3 months, can be fined, is filtered, 30-35,000 b (until 2006 was up to 100,000 b)

2014 ()

shiny red robe. There is a Pinot-Burgundian take on the nose – an aroma of elegant berry fruit, curvy and Redondo, red fruits present. This is easy and open on the palate, rather light for a Hermitage. It coasts along on supple, red-fruited content. It gives neat drinking, with finesse high on the agenda. There is a little increase in depth on the closing moments. 13.5°. 2027-29 Nov 2016

2013

quite a dark red colour. The bouquet has inner density, blackberry, prune, ripeness without being showy. There is more to come, and a gain in both elegance and amplitude. This holds fluid content, black berry fruits with a fresh menthol noted late stretch. The finale is neat, together. The length is good – it has a tick tock of persistence. There is good spine, a Bessards thread at its heart. Decant it. 13.5°. From mid-2018. 2034-37 Nov 2016 Previously May 2016 **** dark red robe. The nose is upright, well-filled, has airs of rosemary (Bessards influence) with red meat (Le Méal), and also graphite (Bessards); there is a little damp forest. The palate bears good plum fruit, red fruits on the attack. This has a rocky countenance, mineral threads though it. It has a violet, prune, soaked depth. It tightens as it goes, holds fine tannin, and is quietly persistent. “Acidity is present, so it can live . .  at least 20 years,” Jacques Desvernois, winemaker. 13.5°.  2036-40  May 2016

2012 ()

shiny red robe. There is just the first entrance of evolution, damp forest, on the nose, with cooked plums, raspberry coulis mixed in with meatiness. This is gourmand, in big contrast to 2013, holds overt Méal-inspired flesh, a coated gras richness with neat tannins that are succulent. This is a sudiste-southern style of Chapelle. It’s in transition now, so wait until 2018-19. There is munchy content on the close. This is for lovers of genuine, full Hermitage. It has good depth, lusty tannins, character. 14.5° - which shows the ripeness of the crop. 2033-36 Nov 2016 Previously Dec 2014 **** sturdy dark red robe; the nose holds a loganberry, large berry aroma, with dense packing, a hum of violet, flowers adding intrigue. The palate is open and abundant, from the start. It develops grilled notes, and ends as a still incomplete package, soaked black cherries and tar, southern strength, but a good wisp of freshness from the vintage. A muscular, beef-fed teenager here with grounded qualities, a good representative of the hill, even if the oaking is overtly tarry for now. I note the 14.5°, so plenty of ripeness has been the target. From 2018. 2030-32  Dec 2014

2011

shiny red robe, in good shape. The nose is subdued, cautious, presents a good inner depth with cooked plum, smoke, a clear hit of raspberry. It’s moving into its second stage, and gives the sense that it’s gaining in depth and breadth. The palate offers supple content and gras with well-embedded tannins that add an outer coat of matter into its wheel of flavour. Double decant it if drinking now. This is pretty genuine, a mix of elegance and ground force. 14°. From mid-2018. 2031-34 Nov 2016 Previously Nov 2013 **** shiny, nice dark plum robe that looks well. The aroma is measured, marked by stylish soaked red berries, cherries, a hint of discreet oak, some sizzled bacon: the bouquet is stylish, goes for attraction over power, has a hint of flowers in it. The palate presents oaked, dark berry fruit, its texture sleek all through. It shows late acidity, and has unfinished business there. There is certainly a Bordeaux oak style take here. The fruit quality is good, but it lacks the real stuffing of Le Méal, for example. There are charcoal moments from its raising late on. From 2018. 2028-30  Nov 2013

2008 No Rating

NOT PRODUCED

2007

(casks) full robe, all the way up. Has an enclosed, thorough nose – its fruit is suave, the fabric tight, and comes with a sleek, polished black cherry air. The oak is apparent across it. The palate commences with a charcoal lacing from its oak, and delivers a tang of clarity late on – the Bessards effect. The black berry fruit is direct in delivery. The oak and tannins demand it be left until late 2012 or so. The palate is more local and Rhône-like than the bouquet. Wide wine, with potential. Let's hope for the best. Dec 2008

2006

largely full robe; has a smoky nose, with a touch of the downhome, coming along with mocha and oak: has not really hit its stride yet, is moving around, not stable. The palate gathers its fruit and tannin in a tight weave, with the oak dominating the fruit from half way. The wine tapers towards the finish, and its content lessens, while the oak stays. Firm, pebbly, even dry texture on the finish. It lacks real matter late on, also breadth and punch. It is a wine in transition now, so deserves some benefit of the doubt. From mid-2010. I wonder how it will go. 14°. The trouble is – these wines are now so darned expensive (£130 or similar per bottle) that they really must deliver a very good, even excellent drink, with curiosity and personality attached. 2019-22 Dec 2008 Previously May 2008 ***(*) black cherry dominates the robe; the nose is still at a primary stage – it is reserved and shows just one fruit, black cherry, along with a toffee air also. It can become broad, but has been aimed at sophistication rather than local authenticity – it is careful rather than exuberant. The palate fruit is clean, elegant, but once again with the new Jaboulet range, where does this really come from? It holds clean cherry lines and the tannins are harmonious, so the wine will be drinkable quite soon thanks to its swish textures, around 2010. It lacks that heartbeat of the south: here we have Bordeaux ruling the roost. International wine that doesn't inspire, that never goes the extra yard. The fruit just about lasts to the end. I want more guts, content and firmness in this young wine, more stirring of my veins. Should Hermitage wear white gloves or be beautiful? Discuss. 2025-27 May 2008 Previously ***** (casks) bright, black cherry robe. Holds a streamlined, black fruit nose – violet and some licorice mixed with the black fruit aromas, and suggests a hint of the south, further down the valley – the aroma travels across the glass. The palate is gracious and orderly, with a good interior: certainly has a profound, but refined content. This is polished syrah, with a late crop that combines tannin, oak and black pepper. Is more refined than the 2005. It is wide at the finish, has plenty in it, and the fruit is clearly struck and well set. From 2011-12 2029-32 Nov 2007, three to four months before bottling

2005

pretty full red robe with a purple top. Has an oily, mulled fruit aroma which is broad and entrenched – it is masculine, feet on the ground. It is sustained and deep, with some snap in it in the form of a black pepper air. The mix of cherry and blackberry sits securely on the palate and delivers a long thrust, with some power and a little punch around it. It keeps going well, and provides Rhône guts, with live and quite punchy tannins that do not obstruct. There is some late heat for interest. The tannins need a little time, and will be softer by 2011. This has good continuity through the palate – it is freshly fruited and vivacious and bright, that layer going beyond its intrinsic depth. It has the fruit of the east end of the appellation but some noble lacing, and an extra tannic, wee granite grip in it as well. 2027-30 May 2008 Previously Nov 2007 **** dark red with some black in the robe; the nose is broad and pretty copious and deep, reflects black fruit gums in its aroma – is earthy, has soul, and there are also some red fruits on the live side floating around with the suggestion of tannin to fence them all in. The palate leads with black berries, has a dense, quite creamy core and a touch of the stewed about it. The feel is solid, and quite local, the length is OK. Ends with some peppery clarity, although the fruit there doesn't zing. The tannins are ripe enough, but maybe a little insistent. This wakes up with air, does more à table. I don`t think I have had the best of it today here in Tain. From 2011. 2029-32 Nov 2007 Previously Aug 2007 ****** full, dark red; mulled berry aroma is infused with mint, leather – interesting. Compact, dense style of wild berry fruit with good kick and life in it. The aftertaste is tarry – this is still primary. Is long, and keeps its shape all through – there is good variety on the nose and on the palate, and some good granite content. Great sophistication, wonderful appeal in the fruit. A few biscuit tones late on. 2025-28 Aug 2007 Previously June 2006 ***** (in casks for three weeks) dark robe; the nose is all one – thorough, completely knit, veers towards a chocolate air. Good grain in the palate – stylish fruit with replete surrounds – intense and difficult to get into it now. Likely to bear more hauteur, nobility, more granite influence this year – the Bessards effect is greater than recently, and gives it backbone – Bessards at 14°. Good, clear wine with pretty tannins and structure. The fruit is very persistent, and finishes with a lacing of pebbles from the tannins. A classic year – cause for rejoicing if this ends up in good shape in the bottle. 2029-32 June 2006 330 hl for now (data from June 2006)

2004

gummy, broad bouquet with some funkiness, and a tiny touch of alcohol. The palate also reveals a funky, brewed style of wine, with stewed berry fruits such as ripe cherries. It has a wild side - it's apart from the other PJA 2004s. Peppery finish. Fleshy wine with some southern character, alcohol is a bit of a worry - it's 14.8°, and this wasn't a vintage of extreme ripeness. It shows a marked Le Méal nature this year. 2022-25 "It has not changed much during its life, we picked late in 2004," Laurent Jaboulet. June 2006 Previously April 2006 ** tangy, downhome aroma of varnish and crop left to hang on the vine, is sappy and will become gamy, is already sous-bois. So tried a 2nd bottle (blind tasting): full, appealing robe. Ripe, sappy fruit aroma, fat in an Australian manner, black fruits, touch of the sweaty saddle. The palate fruit kicks off generously, is round and plump now. It is fleshy wine with immediate appeal, some late tannins in reserve, but is playing its cards early, seems too obvious. There is some distracting acidity, which was also evident on the first bottle. From 2008 on this showing, drink to 2020-22, but Jury out. Due to taste again June 2006 at PJA.

2003 ()

has a plum-centred robe, bright, with a tiled rim. The nose is strongly into its second phase evolution, cedar, cigar box with strawberry and dates mixed. It is stimulating, varied, and still has some coolness, cold tea leaves, brioche. The palate is more evidently southern in nature via its date, Rhum Baba cake flavour, with a close-knit intensity of gras from within. It ends on mocha, cooked spiced plums. I give it marks for stimulus. The tannins have a dry top, but the fat below sorts them out. Serve this in a large glass. 14.5°. 2034-37 Nov 2016 Previously ***(*) (cask) dark robe; some soaked fruit aroma, is bound together, has floral traces, smoky. "Elegant", simmered red fruit berry flavour, as if tannins were tamed in the cellar. There is a degree of tannin at the end, which is ripe and pretty soft. Length OK. 2007-08 on. 2018-22 Nov 2004

2002 ()

decent bouquet, the top aroma a bit dusty, some warmth within, stewed plums. Fresh, minted fruit shows on the palate. This is soft wine, with no real high points. Some width and tannins. Has oak traces, then raspberry aftertaste. Fair balance, some structure, can drink quite early. 2006-07 on. 2015-19

2001

quite dark purple/black cherry colour; stewed black fruit, minty and hung game aromas, leathery; fair packing of flavour on the palate, not very big scale. Blackberry/cassis, nice tannins alongside. Some southern character here, from 2007-08. 2023-25

2000 ()

this is an infamous vintage, the bottom of the the bottom in the Chapelle cycle, when the now discordant Jaboulet family opted to produce far too much Hermitage as La Chapelle. Tasting Note: some advance at top of robe, rather see-through. Fungal, bit overripe bouquet - stone fruit, overt cooked fruit. Cooked red berries come forward on the attack, then there is a lean interior, and red fruits return. Berried wine, with a bosky texture. It becomes short, dries and vacates, lacks width. It may have a tiny bit more about it around 2007. 2011-14 Jan 2004, fourth tasting.

1999

a magnum: paling red robe. The bouquet shows the sunny ripeness of the year with a bonny sweet spot of red fruit, mulberry, with an appealing brilliance, sureness of depth. It has gentle floral notes, ground peppercorns. It’s set to amplify, blossom with air. The palate gives a cluster of red fruits with fine tannins closely alongside. The attack serves it well, is immediately engaging, while the deft, gradual build in depth is classic, as well, the finish on plums, cordite, indications of thick skins on the grapes. This is going to evolve with steady purpose, no bumps or closures. It’s a sensuous Chapelle, not one with the majesty of the Grandes Années, but is very creditable, with Méal present, but also a lot of La Croix to rather dilute it. This preceded the very ordinary 2000 when the family pressed the button on volume, output, as the arguments grew, and it shows some of that over-production. This develops greater thickness with a couple of hours’ air. 13.5°. 2040-42 Sept 2020 Previously Sept 2004 **** dark plum core to robe, red at top. Brewed, smoky toasted nose - coffee/mocha, warm cooked stone fruit - it is deep and varied. It has an assertive, dry-toned texture with a warm centre. Southern tones here - raspberry fruit with good underlay. There is some richness, oil at the end. It is upright at this stage, has likeable punch. It develops a more prune flavour with air. It reminds me of 1960s-1970s Chapelles. It is a bit dumb now, was more exuberant. 2007-08 on. 2032-36 Sept 2004

1998

only fair robe, not as dark as 1999. Oily, warm, floral bouquet - soft fruit aromas. Gently stewed plum fruit shows on the palate, which gains dimension as it goes; there is a smoky, fruit skin presence. Its gentle red fruit is not especially southern. It can sing, and will give more boom from 2007. It has lost some earlier edginess. 2015-19 May 2003

1997

plum red robe with a little lightening at the top. The nose is varying, gives soft and mature plum fruit with a belle surround of bosky airs, a trace of violet and soft rose hip. There is a bonny insistence of red fruits, spice, cedar on the palate. It has stylish, good length, an easy freshness with a good heart. It’s slightly on the wire rather than roundness; the content stops a little short – which is the vintage effect. What it delivers is direct raspberry fruit which is still fresh. It builds on the bouquet as it goes, really expands, then is just a little fragile late on, where there are perfumed notes. Interesting wine that can tick over. 13.4°. 2026-28  Aug 2016 Previously April 2004 ***** intense matt plum colour; warm, fat, rounded bouquet, some damp leaf, touch reserved, has brooding promise. Immediate appeal - the flavour runs around the mouth, great fleshy texture, brewed black fruit. A Pomerol style Hermitage, gourmand. Soft fatness, good. A vintage where the year holds sway over the place. To 2017-2021 April 2004

1996

the robe is dark, has legs, the top shows some tiling - overall it is still very full. Has a wide, profound bouquet, with mineral and damp woods in it; there are black fruit, Christmas cake areas – the air develops that more charged side to it. The bouquet grows more wide and handsome as it breathes. There is a big, robust push of black fruit on the palate, with the mineral/coffee edging of the year. Has a lot of heart – is a true Hermitage. There is a copious minerality that reflects the vintage, but in a bountiful way – this drips with southern richness. Is a soaking style of wine – the Jaboulet hallmark of those mid-1990s years. It is brisk and clear towards the finish. This would surprise people who have lost the faith. 2023-25 Dec 2007 Previously May 2001 ****(*) sleek black colour, quite dark; upright, dry style bouquet - leaves, woods, mint, alcohol; tight, reserved palate, almost resinous, touch tough right now. Ends richly. Nice end fruit. Extreme contrast between the 1996 and 1997 tannins. Leave till 2006 or so. I back this to do well. 2018-2023 May 2001

1995 ()

healthy, still dark red colour. Pine, smoke, cordite feature in a mulberry, red-fruited bouquet that is notably fresh, very 1995 in that respect, carries menthol clarity, a touch of violet. This is brisk, direct La Chapelle, with good spine, length, is very young. It runs with red fruits, sparked tannins, is Nordic more than Southern, builds strength towards the finish, an impression of Méal ripeness in its late thrust. It has good structure, frame, with more filling to come over time. Air brings a gradual emergence of soft gras richness, more volume and overt depth. There’s a good mineral clench on the finale. Day 2: blackberry-plum flavours; it has thickened since yesterday. The nose gives coffee beans, pine, earthiness, black truffles. 13.5°. 2038-40 Sept 2020 Previously Sept 2018 ***** has a crimson-ochre robe, on the march. This has a broad, true Hermitage bouquet, shows a sustained air of meat stock, cooked plums, with live cinnamon crackle, pepper, raspberry coulis, black olives emerging with air. It’s varied, holds high potential, serve in a large glass. The palate bears lithe content, still in the 1995 grip of brisk tannins, vintage cut. It ends on floral/rose notes, peony, has character, a mix of sinew, grainy content with odd flashes of sunny richness. It’s still more strict than generous, but is unwinding and amplifying. This is one of the best 1990s vintages of La Chapelle (excl 1990), delivers interest and provocation due to its intricacy. Decanting advised. 13.5°. 2036-39 Sept 2018 Previously Aug 2015 **** pretty ample robe, dark red, some top advance. Black fruit, jam undertone on bouquet, a little smoky, peppery - it is still reserved, the second phase not far off. The aroma becomes more bosky after an hour. There is a ripe fruit accent on palate, minted, leathery black berried fruits. The fruit style is in line with a dry year. Fair glycerol here, an oily wine with sound length. It has a dry-textured second half as the tannins settle. It will be more rounded from 2008 on. There is a tarry aftertaste; there is more a funky than a finesse wine coming through. 2034-36  August 2005 Previously Sept 2004 ***(*) solid robe, still well sustained. Warm, cooked jam aroma, dusty backdrop, is decent - has potential to vary. Air brings rose-hip, violet side. Good, firm Syrah expression on palate, with dry, minted texture of a dry vintage. Some body beyond the cooked black fruit. Funnels along rather, length is OK, not more. Leave till 2008-09 and maybe more width, but it lacks richness. It resembles a subset of the 1983. 2032-34 Sept 2004 Previously Oct 1999 ****** dense purple; pine, dark fruit, smoke nose, latent wedge of mature fruit, very tight, heat. Superb balance - first wave of dark fruit flavour backed by tannic, fresh follow-through. Notable aftertaste of chewy tannins and black fruits, very lingering. 2036-38 Oct 1999, NYC

1994

decent robe; sound southern weight on bouquet - cooked fruit, sappy and deep, smoky damson. Attack gives more than finish - flesh and warm matter with guiding tannic restraint. Licorice, but a little vacant on end. It has local feel. Esp to 2008. 2011-14 Previously Oct 1998 **** bouquet is on the wooded, minty, oily side, dry-textured. Lot of tight flavour - black fruit, some heat. Good length. Tannins quite supple, though wine is "straight" at present. 2014-19 Oct 1998, London

1993

the Year of no La Chapelle. Jaboulet made only 300 hl of all Hermitage, which came out with that plain name - Hermitage: quite good colour; upright bouquet, some red fruit, decent frame; pleasant palate, light on attack, not follow through very strongly. Medium-plus weight. Fair extract achieved. 2004-08

1992 ()

full matt red. Dense bouquet, mint, cooked black fruit, damp woods, tea - it becomes taut with air. Sweet southern brew at first on the palate, then it tightens and is more mineral, with a hint of end tannin. It may show more around 2004 when it will be looser on the palate, and the bouquet more mellow. The fruit lacks cut. Jaboulet say was it very acid at first. 2009-12 Sept 1999 Previously Oct 1997 ** ripe nose, plum fruit, heat and power; agreeable ripe flavours at outset, then tannins assert on finish. Fair dimension, chewy on end. Three-quarter weight. It won´t evolve in an even way, is not naturally balanced. Jaboulet say was very acid at first. Especially 2003 or so. 2011-15 Oct 1997

1991

has a belle, ruby+ red robe. The nose goes into blackberry, stewed berries, with forest floor, prune notes and associations; it has a baked angle. The palate has a fine attack, gives cooked red fruits with some inner sweetness, and mild tannins that lend curve to it. The finish is fresh, for now toffee-cooked fig. This reminds me a bit of mature Barolo – the fresh finish after the squeezy content. The aftertaste has salted dabs. It isn’t a major Chapelle, but is a homely one. 13.5°. 2031-33 Nov 2016 Previously July 1997 ***** dark; red meat, dark and full bouquet, the animal edges will appear, ripeness there, moving quite fast with age, has shaken off oak. Deep, dark cooked plum fruit on an impressive attack. There is a lot of rich extract, and chocolate, tannins gather at end - it is pretty ripe and integrated, is heady. From 2000 or so. 2014-19 July 1997

1990

very full robe, that is still through all the way through. The bouquet has a sweet air, rich, dried fruits such as dates with a mild floral air, blackberry undernotes, a mixture of oily and very minor damp touches of age. There are both salty and violet contributors, and creamy, brioche airs. What a warm breadth to this – an enormously wide and complete bouquet. The palate combines richness and grain, moves well, and has glints of direct focus. It has a lot more definition than last night’s 1990. Is has a fresh, tight, free run finish. Inside there are fine, fresh red fruits which build up into a final glow, a note of heat. It is more elegant and crisp than last night’s 1990. The finish has sinew in it. This was bought in Britain, has a French tax capsule on it. 2033-36  March 2011 Now – the bottle from the night before: ****** dense, very sustained full red robe. I find roast lamb airs on the nose, rosemary herbs notably, also toffee, quince fruit. It is immensely tight, packed, the aroma showing beef stock, accompanied by mild and grainy, pebbly tannins. It is an enormously ample bouquet, very little shifted over the years. The palate is remarkably solid and closed in, with a profound weight to it; it is soaked, sumptuous, gives a really close-knit wave of black, lightly scented fruit. Has complex potential, even now after over 20 years. It comes in the fat, modern style, is a little immobile – “impressive” is the word. It chases around the palate, ending on a shipshape, beefstock finale. After 90 minutes, it does what it needed to – a more grainy side eases out. Stored most of its life in 85% humidity, at 51-52°F or 11°C in San Francisco, so has returned from there to Europe, to GB. Lots of living and loving to come here. 2033-36  March 2011  Previously Jan 2006 ****** full, brooding, dark robe - still young. Varied aromas, bouquet shows real potential: coffee, mint, smoky leather with a really warm, southern sound and ripe interior. A first hit of suave, warm textured wine - black stone fruits, with herbal edging, then comes a meaty stretch. Is more expressive on the front palate rather than the late palate. Gorgeous roundess, tastes of prune and scented plum come through. Great levels of tannin and acidity that will allow it to live on. Lovely shape, bravo! Hommage to PJA with this. Length - yes, a kick on the finish? Yes. The bouquet is more advanced than the palate. Mighty Wine, my youthful memories return. 2025-28 Jan 2006, Hong Kong Previously March 2003, London ****** stop and pause wine, no idle chatter. Full, still dark robe after thirteen years. Herbal, meaty, even a little reduced still after one hour open. Tight, compact palate, tar and stone fruit. Much on the sinew, needs to unwind, still solid and unmoving. From 2008-09? 2021-25 March 2003, London Previously Oct 1998 ****** dark, inky, legs run down, is bright; enormous broad bouquet, still inside itself, lots of lurking power, cooked, stewed fruits. Lovely, really integrated flavour - fatness, sugar, power, tannins in support, they all march to the same drum. Balance so good that there is a fineness to the wine. Finishes firmly with some correct southern final heat. Superb. Long ways to go. Nature rarely delivers such abundance. From 2005. 2030-35 Oct 1998, London Previously April 1994 ****** firm robe, very sustained dark red, all the way. There is some young oak on the first nose, but the fruit aromas behind are resonant, have a great bounty and incisive extract about them. The depths of the bouquet are firm, indicating long life. It is capable of style beyond the great filling. The palate is solid, has pretty tight flavours, is all still wrapped up. There is a lithe Hermitage feel (noticeable after the gush n’lush of Guigal’s Landonne and Mouline tasted at the same session). It is more measured than the Chave 1990, probably capable of longer life, and later declarations. It ends with a surmaturité or near overripe fruit and some heat – it at its most Rhodanien in nature at that very point for now, the truest local moment. 2025-28  April 1994 Previously Feb 1992 ****** (pre-bottling) extremely dark, inky colour, good hue. There are big aromas of almost overripe grapes, lots of potential variety and complexity – there is no coyness here. The palate starts with a surge of ripe, deep tasting flavours that are impressively moulded together. Some fine tannins burst from cover on the lasting finish – they’re generally well enveloped by the fruit and fleshy extract, which is the great success of the wine. Reticent still, this has brooding power. It has a perfect harmony, is strong, generous and long-lasting. Grand Vin here. It will run for at least twenty-five years, no problem. 2018-22 Feb 1992

1989

thorough robe, well held at fourteen years. Really sappy, full bouquet, leather undertones. Tasty, overt, full wine, works well. Stone fruit with live texture, acidity works well. Black fruits end, warm mineral. The dry of the vintage and intrinsic local richness combine very well with age. Esp to 2010. 2016-20 March 2003, London Previously Feb 1999 **** bosky, cedar, woods bouquet; lovely rich start, dark berries. Nice frame around it, good black fruit tannins at end, some heat. On the stubborn, dry aromas and reticent palate. Not an obvious crowd pleaser, a hunched year, its evolution will need tracking. Shades of 1983. From 2003. 2015-20 Feb 1999, London Previously Feb 1992 **** the colour is a pretty solid purple/black. There are sappy, coked fruit aromas on the bouquet, which has shaken off last year’s raw, evident oak influence. There is fair substance with quite ripe elements on the palate, but it somehow just misses a beat – it seems to lack a convincing thoroughness; it’s almost too sleek for its own good. It’s probably in an interim phase tight now. There is an upsurge of liquorice chew and tannins at the end, so it is still sorting itself out. I still don’t think it’s greatly typical of its terroir. It is likely to run for fifteen to twenty years. 2009-2012 Feb 1992

1988

nicely maturing robe of dark red, traces of fading purple, a touch of top brick on it. Evolving Syrah bouquet - the mineral aspect of this more tannic year evident, some cough syrup, and a warm ending, quite pretty. Squeezed ripe fruit on palate, a touch of prune, some peppered dried black fruits. Good sinew. Classic Hermitage style, quite upright with a gently plump middle. The vintage stamped on it. Has regained its place after lack of terroir when four years old. 2009-13 May 2001, London  Previously April 1994 ***** dark, shiny robe that mixes black and plum red, good sheen and legs in the glass. This has a dark, semi-chocolate bouquet, is firm in nature, some suggestion of alcohol present. The bouquet is rather stern, a bit techno, rather like a Château Montrose. The palate is good and wide, and really expands well, comes with a firm, compact touch. It may lack a little flesh – I find a Bordeaux texture here. It is not a forthcoming wine, but can quietly improve. 2013-16  April 1994 Previously Feb 1992 **** solid, deep colour, some black with the purple. There is quite striking, berried fruit warmth on the bouquet, which is stylish, promising. There is decent depth of dark fruit on the palate, which has shaken off its young oak overlay, though overall the wine is taut rather than fleshy. It persists well enough on the aftertaste, chewiness there helped by the oak. It has less terroir than the Chapelles of old at this young stage, but this is a good vintage, likely to hold together until 2006-2010 Feb 1992

1987 ()

still quite dark; upright bouquet - more bosky, woods than fruit. Oil, some tar also show. It is full but some dryness pulls it back. The texture is a bit stretched, isn't free and easy. Very commendable at ten years. 2001-06 May 1997 Previously March 1992 *(*) dark plum, quite sound colour. Bouquet a bit precarious and narrow - tarry, black jam, lacks depth and clarity. The palate starts quite spicily, but is a shade aggressive and austere. The finish is rather hot, tarry. Some oak presence helps to soften it, and it could could settle if given maybe another two to five years. I suspect they had their work cut out to make this. It should drink towards 2000 or so. March 1992

1986 ()

pretty, bright colour - dark, cherry aspects. Early warmth on bouquet, still carries a bit of oak. Discreet richness, reveals some promise of showing southern traits. Decent depth and richness on attack, has a gentle fullness and tasty fruitiness with a touch of softening tannin overriding. It is likely to taste more openly in three to eight years, may live towards or past 2004. It could be a bit of a sleeper that will flourish quietly with age. Vines lower down the hill suffered from rain at harvest, one-third of the crop was declassified, so selection was rigorous 2006-08 March 1992

1985

I am staying with 5 stars although the most recent bottle was ***, drunk two days after a ***** version: dark, filled robe. The nose is laid back, gives toffee, prune with a wee hint of dryness, possible taint, a little burst of red fruits, redcurrant. This bottle is less generous than the other bottles I have drunk – it is more flat and the length is restricted. It backs off a touch on the close. Nov 2016 Previously Nov 2016, two days earlier at La Chapelle restaurant ***** appealing robe, plum red, looking very well for 31 years. The top rim is tiled. The nose gives immediate inky marine, seashore thrust with good heart in its cooked red stone fruits. It has admirable freshness, and the bouquet alone shows the balance of the vintage. There are just minor leather notes - there is gradual evolution. The palate hands out bright, vigorous content with dark berries and bracing tannins - most notable they are in fuelling its fresh length. The tannins become lightly keen as it airs, bringing a trembling presence in the genuine southern campo in which it resides. It’s still running on the finish, can easily handle the air, is holding together very well. The palate is more punchy than the nose. This is right up to the standard of my last bottle in Tain a year or so ago. 13.5°. 2032-35 Nov 2016 Previously Jan 1999 ***** hint of brick. Bouquet still very deep. Now minty, mushroom, damp woods with some black jam. Still tightly packed on palate. Delicious ball of rounded fruit here. Three-quarter weight wine, has the soft sweetness, succulence of the year. Touch of final heat. Nearing the top of its singing fruit. Vin de plaisir. Only an eight-day cuvaison here. 2008-13 Jan 1999 Previously April 1994 **** well-captured colour, still dark at its heart. The bouquet is prominent, has a bit of a nice oily streak in it; I do not fins the fruit convincing, seems a little extracted. The nose has a dark, licorice edge, shows some toffee, is a bit hard. The palate starts off a little “straight” – there is only a fair core of extract and depth. It is quite good, but does skirt around. On the finish it tightens, and starts to disappear into a hole. It doesn’t really show its true hand, and declare itself. The hand of the maker and the presence of the cellar are too forced upon it, I find. My image of the 1985s is more fruit, balance, pleasure, harmony than this. Perhaps it will ease. Decant or double decant, also can wait until 1998 or so. 2011-15  April 1994

1984

No Rating now - leather, mineral aromas, sweeten a little with air, also a gamey side. Nicely styled, elegant palate, with decent depth. The plum fruits are quite sustained, and it has good grain. It has done well with age, and can tick along eg towards 2004-06. May 1996, London

1983

1983 La Chapelle - a fascinating wine to track. Will it come round or not? Will southern warmth prevail over raw tannic assertion? Would it follow 1975 or 1957 Bordeaux, where the tannins ruled throughout? Tasting Note: *** there are still dark areas in the heart of the robe. There is a honey, almost treacle effect on the nose, cooked apples here, and a cosmetic angle. Raisin and plum mingle on the front palate – it is compact, with slight burnt fringes, and ends on tar, and still, to this day, on tannin. Workmanlike wine that lacks definition. Purity of cut, even though it is still alive. There is plum fruit within, but it lacks inspiration. This is not how I thought the 1983 Chapelle would have evolved, although medicinal touches have been found in the wine before. The wine is “not for turning” on this show – it will be put in the 1957 Bordeaux category – they never really did come round. 2018-20  March 2011 Previously Nov 2002 *** sombre, advancing red robe; bouquet shows evolution - tea leaves, damp earth and after air, figs. Bit softer and sweeter than in the past. Red fruit attack a little tense, dry-toned. Medicine syrup finish, though even after two-plus hours retains some southern warmth. 20-day cuvaison to make this. 2010-13 Nov 2002, London Previously Nov 2000 *** mint, tea leaf bouquet; dense, sappy wine, a little one-dimensional, obvious. Is rounded, but has flattened its tannins after all the years´ waiting, and not so much left beyond. It is struggling to hold up on this showing. 2007-10 Nov 2000, London Previously Oct 1998 *****(*) colour holding well, touch of advance at top; Bit mushroom, damp woods, some medicine syrup on bouquet. Softening at last on palate, though upright tannins apparent through it, keeping it framed. It's a bit medicinal at end. It never will become fleshy, but now the austerity wears the hint of a smile. 2010-15 Oct 1998, London Previously Feb 1985 **** not especially dark robe – purple, but not intense all the way to the top. It’s not particularly brilliant. The nose is rather dumb, a very faint blackcurrant-style fruit aroma that is not very distinguishable. There is some mint, and vanilla from oak. The palate starts with intense blackcurrant fruit, edged by raspberry, substance behind the fruit that leads into brisk tannins, crunchy ones, and licorice before the finish. The tannins creep as it closes. It’s not very heavyweight – style over substance seems to be the name of the game. 2005-08  Feb 1985

1982

the robe is ruby, pretty serene, a little pale at the top. The nose shows the sunshine of the year, a coated, spicy strawberry – this is doing Pinote, comes with well sustained depth, some brambly hedge row fruit also. Air moves the nose around, also – into cool tea-mineral notes, then into red fruits, then vice-versa – so it isn’t as stable as the wonderful 1985 on known form. The attack is broad, supple, hands out immediate gras, lots of cosy roundness with just a little advance on the tannins that have a coffee, cocoa implication, and that are just losing their shape, their roundness. The finish is rose-floral, aromatic. There are interesting nuances here. It is toning down, but has character and interest. 13°. 2029-31 Nov 2016 Previously Oct 1998 ***** another vintage of comings and goings. Early flesh and warmth, very much in the mirror of the vintage, was followed by a more crossroads phase mixing leather and southern warmth, then a resounding roundess and appeal at sixteen years. Tasting Note: ***** matt plum, dense robe; great variety on nose - sappy, stewed black fruit, oily, rose petal, is full, generous. Stylish construction, some damp flavours, lovely sap, en rondeur. Some heat, balance good. Roasted beans effect, touch of dryness, good length. In two years has gained and amplified, but there is bottle variation here. 2010-15 Oct 1998, London 1982 Previously March 1996 ***(*) magnum: firm colour; dark plum nose, bit upright, leather, teabag, air breathes power into it, the early 1960s Chapelle southern feel comes through. Needs 45 mins to lose astringency on pal then a brief purple patch. Fair length 2007-10 March 1996, magnum Previously March 1992 ***** decent plum colour, some lightness, plenty of glycerine. Bouquet taking on a ripe, damp evolution, some gibier and overall a lovely southern warmth. Very fleshy fruitiness on palate, depth under it with a little residual tannin. Resounding, lasting aftertaste. A full succulent wine, much more thorough than the fairly similar 1985. A real crowd-pleaser, can't see it slipping unduly during its evolution. Will drink well another ten to fifteen years. 2002-07 March 1992

1981 ()

1/2 bottle: dull colour, purple, some red; lacks some fruit on nose; agreeable fruit on palate, some tannic support. Lacks a bit of harmony. Not bad for the year. Drink before 1992. Only 6,000 bottles made in this very rainy year, mainly sold to French and American collectors. Sept 1984, half b

1980 ()

Time is catching up with what was a **** wine in an underestimated year: pretty, mature red colour. Dry, taut bouquet, smells of furniture varnish, is earthy, too. Gentle, spiced plum opening to palate. Is grainy, there is a prune, snappy mineral effect. Still OK - but on the fade. Mineral, cough mixture falvour towards the finish. Drink this, but it is not oxidised. Previously February 1995 **** brick colour, legs visible down glass; teabags, quite rich nose, though some dry edges. Good weight and richness on palate, which only dry at the end. Soft in the middle. Bounced back after showing dusty, dry age in 1992. To 2002? Feb 1995 Previously March 1992  *** fair plum red colour, a touch of ruby. The bouquet is on the turn, has coppery, mineral aspects. The palate has  old, maybe dried prune flavours, its grip is precarious, the dryness of age coming to the fore. This was never a big wine, and it now finishes a little dustily. Drink now to 1997 according to taste. March 1992

1979

1979 disproved early fears about its balance or how well integrated it was by staying on well. The attack was very compact, a grand bottle for pheasant or game after twenty odd years. Tasting Note: nice mature red; oils, tars, cinnamon, plum on nose; Delicious attack, great ball of raspberry essence. Quite complex, harmonious ending, length good. Still has low-key southern richness. Some bottles becoming more mineral than this. 2008-11 July 1999, Sussex Previously May 1994 ***(*) the colour is still fair, shows some matt and fade. The bouquet is fairly tight, has the start of some complexity. Plum fruit aromas still predominate over more advanced leaf and autumn aromas. The palate is fairly rich, has done quite a lot of road travel, but is till going well pretty well. I am not sure how well stored it has been. It retains some compact richness, but comes from a measured, not big or prominent vintage. 2006-08  Hong Kong, April 1994 Previously March 1992 ***(*) some purple in a good, well-sustained colour. There is fair depth on the bouquet – mature fruit, but a touch of a more dry, mineral side emerging. The palate starts a little mustily, has a quite intriguing combination of cooked fruit, and drier, more resinous flavours. It ends with some dry tannins. I have never been sure about its balance over the years, or how well integrated it is. Drink now, or wait for development on the bouquet, plus the risk of greater dryness on the finish. March 1992

1978

1978 The Main Man, apart from the 1961. A wine that has evolved in a predictable, steady way. Half the normal crop. From the start it was very full, with a high but pretty ripe tannic content. It also hasn't moved much since the mid-1990s. Top grade southern wine, a joy for people who like PROPER TASTE in their red wines. March 2011: the robe is remarkably dark still, just a shift towards the top – the centre is dark red. The bouquet has a sweet-toned, rather fungal, core of plum fruit, sweet tea, baked bread – it is full and continuous, its black fruit softly scented. As it evolves, a Pinot farmyard note emerges – in the best Hermitage noble traditions, a Pinot nature comes through. Air releases further variety – blackberry, beef stock, an elusive southern fragrance and oiliness. The palate bears finely laced red fruit with a shimmer of tannin in a light sprinkle, a gentle drumbeat. This has great poise, and its tannins are fresh still, beautiful in their precise distribution. Lovely dancing fruit here on the palate, and an aftertaste of refined extension. Exceptional wine, which I rate a notch or so ahead of the 1990 – it is more complex and more subtle. 2026-19  March 2011  Previously Nov 2000 ***** magnum: darker than the 1983! Fat, oily but restrained bouquet, some damp leaf of evolution. Also tight palate, unbelievably young with its suave texture. Refined, cherry style flavour, delicate. Length good but not prominently so. There is a lurking stern side here, and certainly plenty to come. 2017-24 Nov 2000, London, magnum Previously Oct 1998 ****** stylish, warm bouquet, has dark flavour, pine, well-stewed fruit, very harmonious and full. These aromas are thick, profound. Still pretty locked up on the palate, still at the dark, stewed fruits stage. Silky texture, good tannic frame guiding it. Great brio, some final heat. Very young for twenty years. Southern heat and style - what a mix! 2020-26 Oct 1998, London Previously April 1994 ****** there is still purple in the colour, some black tints, good brightness. Great, plummy bouquet, as if a very profound, top grade Pinot, some advance apparent – it is immediately striking with alcohol and power, but also a refinement in it. Really fantastic depth and extract on the palate – this is a wine of great grace; its fruit is supreme and both the length and the balance superb. Really delightful, true class here. Excellent wine – it is not in the character of 1961 La Chapelle – it is more elegant, more of a sophisticate. Very good, in the modern way. 2017-20  April 1994 Previously Sept 1992 ****** attractive lustre on dark colour; dark, almost lean fruitiness on nose, cultured rather than raw, some evolution creeping in. Very dark berry fruitiness, very intense, also very elegant on the palate. Still on a tannic side, has a chewy finish. Great length, very good. 2009-14 Sept 1992 Previously May 1992 ***** dark robe, some black still there; the bouquet is currently withdrawn – its fruitiness till red or blackcurrant in style. There is lovely finesse of fruit on the palate, with sleek tannins closely attached – really good harmony. It hasn’t loosened much over the last six years – is still very reserved. There finish is very long, and it has great promise to live until 2012+. There was half the normal crop this year. May 1992

1977

pale colour; fruity, up-front bouquet; light, lacks complexity and balance uncertain. Oct 1978

1976

what a glorious La Chapelle, something of an eternal wine. From the baked summer of 1976, when many Bordeauxs were overdone, some dilute. In the nineteenth century this – the Medicine Man - would have been shipped to Bordeaux to stuff out their wines. Hermitage 5 Pauillac 0, donc. The bottle level very good, despite it travelling with my friend Tommo through different decades, different locales and different below and above stairs situations. The robe is a full, remarkably full red with a tiny rim of orange. Soaked raisins, prune, near violet airs in a very dense bouquet still, also liquid or melted honey. All the airs indicate a wine in good form. The palate holds a red-black fruit, prune, direct appeal with a spot of refined tannin late on. The length is really good, fine and has no interruptions. Freshness comes through strongly. After 10 minutes, the air rounds it and calls up date, plum, scented prune flavours. Its tannin is fine-boned. After nearly two hours, it is elegant, round and smooth. 2014-17 - why not? - for this semi-eternal wine. Sept 2009 Previously Feb 1998 ***** garnet but some depth on robe; bouquet nice and steady, tight then responds to air. Old Syrah plum aroma, black jam, some grain. Palate a good mix of cooked fruit and more dry textures. Was never a lush wine, the dryness is ingrained. Likeable, diverse flavours, edges to a dry finale. Still doing well. To 2004-08 Feb 1998, London Previously May 1992 **(*) colour red to ruby. Bouquet was vegetal by 1982 - has some gentle fruit left and a slight mineral smell. The palate is now a bit stringy - lacks a core, the tannins are abrasive. Has not developed as well as first expected. A nervous wine, drink soon. May 1992

1975 ()

pale, colour thinning; nose has only light fruit. Palate lacks depth and aftertaste. Lightweight wine. Drink by 1985-87. March 1980

1974

sound colour; tannins and fruit on nose; complex, youthful structure on palate; promises well. Oct 1978

1973

colour has held well. Air brings dampness, autumn to bouquet, gets cedary. Great early richness on palate, some southern sweetness. Residual pockets of richness as it firms up with air. Very satisfying, La Chapelle out of the old authentic drawer. To 2004? Shows the case for not decanting old wines, by performing like this after opening. Previously Apr 1994, Hong Kong ***(*) dark purple; bouquet closed; good fruit and balance; faster maturer than the 1974. Oct 1978

1972

the first “live” vintage of Hermitage La Chapelle that I experienced: hail and a much reduced crop, a wine of enormous inkiness in its first months. Fine red robe, slight black at the top, a little see-through there, but has held up well, given it was so dark at the start. The nose is varied, led by iodine, salty plum, lavender and baked stones. After 45 to 60 minutes, it amplifies and deepens. The palate debut is on red fruit, with a good line of acidity, a menthol freshness at the end. It extends well, its little red fruit berries nicely present and declaring well in much finesse. It ends on its traditional Southern glow. Has a good charge in it, the finish well-balanced and lifted by salty, menthol touches. I like its sustained glow and clarity together. Good wine, especially for its age. 2023-25  March 2011  Previously Oct 1990 No Rating now - colour garnet now; nose very rich, well marked by its origins - coffee, sous bois smells; palate rich, some alcohol emerging; runs on with good intensity; will become more interesting and well drinkable 1998-2002. Old-fashioned style, similar to Hermitage of the 1950s being drunk in the 1970s. Smallest yield (15 hl/ha). Oct 1990

1971

bit of brown in colour; many rich coffee, vegetal aromas; rich, developed flavours on palate; tiring, but still very good. Drink it up by 1990-94. Largest yield ever (46 hl/ha). Apr 1990

1970

This is a storming Chapelle, a real rocker. Brewed, thick red colour. Floral aroma with an earthy, barnyard tone, the bouquet is broad and sustained, still vigorous, there is a nice mix of cinnamon and honey. Alert, brewed fruit on attack with a floral fringe. Goes directly along, and even though it narrows a little, holds a rose-hop, continuing finish. Gummy fruit, earthy finale. Good length, still solid, with glints of restraint - this is Vieux Lyon in the glass, the real thing. 2013-17 March 2005 Previously, 31 Dec 1999 **** another vintage to show just how there is a southern affiliation in La Chapelle. The ability to tick along quietly, after it has seemed that last orders have been called, remains fascinating and enjoyable in these old wines. Here is the TN: mature red, orderly retreat. Ripe, orange marmalade aroma at first, leaf, tea bags after six hours - shows how young it is. Thickened up, became more chocolate-style the next day. Spice, damp flavours prevail over fruit. Still a thread of sweetness. Elegance gained from ageing. Black fruit, slightly singed apparent. Darned good, very assured. Very little deposit - was filtered in those days. 2007-09 31 Dec 1999, Sussex Previously May 1992 *** brick colour; burnt aromas, some residual warmth; a quiet vintage - some rounded fruit still, but lacks substance. Drink towards 1998.

1969

colour very dark, just a hint of brick. Bouquet has great, lurking richness, some damp leaf, prune smells and capable of greater complexity. Palate has a lovely, lasting richness, and great depth, very thorough flavours, showing some evolution. Delicious - everything an old Hermitage should be and in stronger shape than a bottle drunk in Feb 1991. Jan 1992 Previously Feb 1991 **** a good level bottle, just a touch low on the level, decanted chez Robin Yapp, in Mere, GB: just a top edge of brick, then ruby then still a dark plum – the robe is holding up well. Early note of alcohol on the nose, a bit diluted, is not a generous southern air – after 45 mins, dampness enters. The attack is softly weighted, offers dark cherry, burnt flavours; it is all quite hot but is softening as it breathes. Tarry flavours prevail, since there is a slight lack of depth, the length is reasonable, not extensive. It is not going to improve or expand; drink now, but can still be OK for another 5-8 years. Compared to the Cornas A Clape 1969 drunk with this, the La Chapelle stays on better and sustains its richness more thoroughly than the Cornas. 1998-2000 Feb 1991

1964

this has been re-corked recently. Its ruby robe still glistens. The bouquet is still very much in the game, broad and well-founded. Figs, raspberry, jammy dodger biscuits with pastry crust feature, with the meatiness of beef. It stands firmly, two feet on the ground. The palate gives a closely wrapped stone fruits with a gain in gras richness and sweetness as it goes. It ends with a red cherry moment, a suave texture still that is a testament to its longevity. There is a good link between the nose and the palate, a very close sequel. This is admirable sudiste-southern, true Hermitage. It delivers infused cherry, with saltiness and a striking freshness on the sign-off. It’s remarkable. 13°. 2031-34 – what about that for longevity! La Chapelle Restaurant, London, Nov 2016

1961

in opening this we had to push the cork into the bottle – the cork was very fragile, but in good vinous shape. This has a plum colour – it is mature but not unsteady, since there are layers to its depth, indeed it is wonderfully sustained. This has a curvaceous aroma – it is sprightly, shows cocoa beans, with clear quince fruit notions, but an assured warmth and roundness inside the bouquet. As I continue with the wine, the bouquet truly becomes fantastic – it is so deep, intense; there are mysterious waters here, and airs of blackberry, tangly berry fruit, with a fine menthol presence, wee coffee, spice - a great mix of influences, and not yet overt even. The very early palate carries strong gras, a lot of it – it is sweet, and after 15 minutes open, it proceeds along a serene, red cherry, fibrillating route. The tannins are very fine, and a small pocket of richness comes through on the finish, round as a Russian doll – a lovely shape to this. After 1 hour open, the richness is creamy – this is remarkable for 50 years of age, with a thrilling freshness as it moves towards the finish. The sweetness is ripe, it is extremely persistent, and has a silken Bordeaux length. I find it not Pinoté in any sense, as can come with many old Hermitage reds – its style or shape is more like a fine Saint-Julien. After two hours, it moves into a minty, cocoa offering within a very pretty richness. The nose is now mature, opulent and flirts with southern garrigue influences, then mineral and smoke – it varies, but never recedes. The bouquet is a wine on its own. Lovely, rich finesse, and then the finish is succulent, like sucking a juju, what pleasure all round. The heart of this wine is undoubtedly Le Méal – that is what has kept it going, with a lovely puffed out chest, full of goodies. The third time I have drunk La Chapelle 1961, and it remains one of life’s wonders. It was shipped to the USA in the 1960s, brought back to Britain over a year ago, and now has been drunk in Northamptonshire with American readers of my work and old friends. A Big Moment. It will keep ticking over, no worries, but deserves to be celebrated without other big name wines around it, so its full prowess can be completely appreciated. To ?? 2028-32  March 2011 Previously Jan 1985 ****** the colour is a dark matt in hue, shows some brick, the top is ruby, but it is lightening only a little. The nose is mind-blowing – there you go; it has been served in glasses at Pic that of course do it full justice – but there is such amplitude, breadth and a fascinating ensemble of plum fruit. gras richness, damp vegetation and earthiness. There is a lovely prune-flavoured richness on the palate; this is a wine of tremendous balance, bears faint cigar, tobacco and spices in its trail, is just on the spice as it finishes. The balance is wonderful. It stops perhaps a fraction short. The nose is perfect, though – the air has unmasked secondary aromas but without the alcohol: this is where the wine is stunning for the Rhône – it has the all-round strength, ripeness and elegance, and carries that all the way through the palate. Good Bordeaux would have a drier feel on the palate, which is why Hermitage was so often sent there in the last century. 800 Francs for the bottle chez Pic, Valence, Jan 1985

1944

pale plum, garnet colour, lovely brightness – a welcoming robe. This has a remarkably precise, baked plum aroma, absolutely precise. It is just a little mineral, with a sugary sweetness, and there are notes of dustiness, stones rubbed together. It is admirable that is also shows garrigue, herbs, southern instincts. The palate offers floral red fruit, its texture grainy, a running line of crisp red fruit through it, and no final edginess. Beautifully mature wine, beautifully, indeed astoundingly fresh. The fruit resembles small red berries, a quiet footprint of quince, and ends with grip. Think about: these Syrah grapes were growing while the US Army forces were liberating the south of France, the lower Rhône. Remarkable wine. As it was opened, the cork came out “pop”, whole, and as it breathes, it sweetens and shows a southern influence of ripeness. Very fine tannins show, the finish glows, while honey and date appear on the nose after 40 minutes. It was bought from the Bell Inn at Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire, the Harris family, in the mid-1970s and cost the same as the La Chapelle 1961 at the time. To 2020-24, say. March 2011