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Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné, La Chapelle Hermitage 1998 & 2015

A legend because…

The wines of Paul Jaboulet Aîné are produced with a view to preserving and enhancing soils. Its 116 hectares vineyard is entirely cultivated in organic farming with the greatest respect for the soil and biodiversity. Biodynamics is also an integral part of its environmental commitment. In 2019, 81 hectares of vines are farmed biodynamically. The excellence of Paul Jaboulet Aîné wines is based on high quality fruit, enhanced by meticulous vinification and fine maturation. As a result, the jewel of the estate is the legendary Hermitage ‘La Chapelle’.

In the 19th century, wines from Hermitage had routinely been used to beef up lacklustre vintages from Bordeaux, but in the 20th century many vineyards were neglected. The recognition given to Paul Jaboulet's La Chapelle 1961 helped to kickstart interest in the great granitic vineyard and its wines.

The 1998 vintage of La Chapelle was the first full vintage for winemaker Laurent Jaboulet, and the 2015 La Chapelle is reminiscent of the 1990 with its full-bodied, opulently, sexy, yet concentrated style.


Looking back

The Jaboulet business was deeply rooted in family. At least four members, brothers and cousins, were involved in both the winemaking and commercial side. A highly consistent négociant business, as well as being a producer from its own extensive vineyards, led to Jaboulet becoming the most visible of the great Rhône houses. In the 1980s and 1990s accidents and premature deaths seem to have robbed the house of its former dynamism and, in 2006, Jaboulet was bought by the Frey family, owners of Champagne house Billecart-Salmon and of Château La Lagune in Bordeaux.


The terroir

The Jaboulets have long been major vineyard owners on the hill of Hermitage, owning 19ha of Syrah and 5ha of Marsanne and Roussanne, yielding, in a normal vintage, about 7,500 cases. The lion’s share of the Syrah vines lie within the Le Méal sector, but with significant parcels in other prized sites such as Les Bessards. An average age of 40 years is maintained for the Hermitage vines. There is no actual parcel known as La Chapelle, however; the name refers to the small chapel perched on the hill. The wine is a Syrah blend from the different parcels.

The reaction

Per-Henrik Mansson of Wine Spectator tasted the 1998 vintage of La Chapelle in 2000 and praised the wine 'stands out for its natural, down-to-earth taste of clean, pure, shining fruit'.

In 2018, Jeb Dunnuck gave the La Chapelle 2015 vintage 100 points and said, 'Offering sensational notes of blackcurrants, smoked herbs, beef blood, and chocolate, it’s a huge yet elegant wine that has masses of sweet tannin, incredible purity and finesse, and a killer finish. It’s the finest wine from this estate in close to 30 years.'

Joe Czerwinski of Wine Advocate also gave the wine 98 points and said it is 'one of the estate’s finest recent efforts'.