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As extraordinary as the 2003s are, I was also blown away by the 2002s produced by Chapoutier, some of which are among the top wines of this challenging vintage. As I have said so many times over the last 15 years, the top Chapoutier wines are meant for very long term drinking, and are not designed for immediate gratification. Everything Chapoutier is doing, from his bio-dynamically farmed vineyard to tiny yields, extended fermentations, indigenous yeasts, and no fining or filtration, is done to produce the essence of a vineyard and a vintage. His track record since 1989 and 1990 admirably proves that these are indeed remarkable wines made by a young genius who refuses to compromise. Michel Chapoutier has been misunderstood by some of his peers, and there is a lot of jealousy when someone this young is so incredibly talented, but it is an irrefutable fact that these are wines of singular greatness as well as longevity.
- Robert Parker
Producer: Maison M. Chapoutier
Sale Price: $99.99
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Varietal: Syrah or Shiraz
Depending on where it's grown and how it's made, the variety has two names. In France, where it goes by Syrah, it makes a huge contribution to the red wines of the Rhone Valley. In the southern Rhone villages of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Vacqueyras it is blended with a number of varieties but mainly Grenache. It is in the northern Rhone, including Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage,Côte-Rôtie, St. Joseph, where it most often stands out on its own, and is only occasionally blended with the region's white grapes. More recently, in the late 20th Century, Shiraz has put Australian producers such as Penfolds and d’Arenberg on the fine wine map, with cult wines like "Grange" and "The Dead Arm". Generally speaking, the style from the old world is more savoury, expressing aromas of pepper, cured meat and leather. The hotter climate experienced in Australia results in more upfront, dense and even jammy fruit. The grape has also taken off with rapid success in California and Washington, as well as South Africa and New Zealand. Producers in these regions often name their varietal wines according to the style they intend.
A country viewed by many as the home of fine wine, it is almost unique in terms of how embedded food and wine is in the nations culture. Given the diverse geography, with so much of the country providing the climate and soil suitable for viticulture, it is no surprise that its produces such an extensive and varied selection of wines. It is the country from where the vast majority of the New World's most popular "international" grapes and stylistic influences originate. While there might seem to be an alarming disparity between the most sought after wines (were a case might set you back as much as a deposit on a small house) and the millions of gallons of vin de table filling up the European wine lake every year, there is so much great value to be found between the two extremes. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and the Rhone may still dominate the market for fine wine, but regions including the Loire, Alsace, Languedoc & Roussillon and the South West are increasingly becoming excellent sources of good quality, affordable wines.
The Rhone is one of France’s most important wine regions. Divided into two separate zones, the north is probably the most prestigious. It is home to the appellations of Condrieu, Côte Rôtie, St. Joseph, Hermitage, and Crozes-Hermitage. Syrah is king with the exception of the Condrieu (100% Viognier) and Hermitage, which also makes big whites from Marsanne and Roussanne. The South is a much larger region where most Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Village come from. In the villages of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Rasteau, Syrah is blended in varying proportions with Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, and a host of obscure varieties such as Muscardin, Vaccarese, Terret and Counoise, to produce full-bodied reds brimming with energy.
Red wine is wine made from dark-coloured grape varieties. The color of red differs based on the grapes variety or varieties used.
Interestingly, black grapes yield a juice that is greenish-white. The actual red color comes from anthocyan pigments (also called anthocyanins) from the skin of the grape (exceptions are the relatively uncommon teinturier varieties, which produce a red colored juice). Most of the production centers around the extraction of color and flavor from the grape skin.