We end our idyllic stay in Southern France with a visit with one of the top wineries not just in the region but in all of France: Michel Chapoutier. Our boat docked in Viviers where we left for Tain l’Hermitage and a tasting of 6 of their best wines.
Michel is an ardent believer in biodynamic farming and for him, the most important thing in the winemaking equation is what goes on in the vineyard. His analogy, spelled out in a very interesting video which you can watch on their home page, is that the soil creates a ladder, and the role of the winemaker is to climb the ladder.
Chapoutier is a producer, grape grower and negociant. They sell 160 different wines and produce 10 milltion bottles yearly. They make 60% of their own wines and 40% negociant. Here are the results of our tasting: “Les Granilites” 2015 St Joseph, 100% marsanne with a deep gold color, subtle citrus aroma and acidity, full and fat in the mouth and long finish; Invitare 2015 Condrieu 100% viognier, again deep gold color with 15% aged in oak and the rest in concrete, citrus, vanilla, more complex; La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2014, using only 2 grapes instead of 13: 95% grenache, and 5% syrah, meaty aroma, smooth in mouth, a great expression of grenache with no aok whatsoever; Les Arènes Cornas 2014, 100% syrah with a little oak aging, gorgeous red fruit aroma and soft tannins; Cote Rotie Les Bécasses 2014, again 100% syrah with red meat dark red berry aromas and soft tannins that coat the mouth, aged 80% oak mostly big barrels, 15% new oak; Suzeranne 2012 Hermitage, the famous hillsite location with 25 different owners, deep red colors, graphite minerality and subdued fruit, 85% oak.
For Maison Chapoutier, the definition of terroir is the interaction of soil, climate and people.
Before walking to the boat moored in Tournon across the Rhone, we stopped for a visit to the Valrohna Cité du Chocolat.
We ended the evening, and the tour, with a gala dinner on board and everyone leaves tomorrow, although a few are staying over in Lyon to enjoy this great city.
Coming soon: our blogs on the best wines and wineries of Corsica and Southern France based on responses from our tour participants.