Hatch Mansfield’s Rhône 2022 tasting – featuring the M.CHAPOUTIER Sélections Parcellaires en Primeur – had no Michel Chapoutier in person this year, quaffing Comtes de Taittinger and regaling yarns from the Rhône valley as he likes to do. In his place were 20 wines from a selection of his sites across France, but (naturally enough) with a focus on Rhône 2022. A hot, dry, variable vintage, Rhône 2022 is throwing up a few surprises, not least the amount of freshness there is in the reds. Chapoutier’s Rhône wines were showing very well as were those selected from his other sites in Alsace, the Rhine, and Roussillon, presented in self-pour machines at Vagabond, Monument, that showed off the estate’s skill at sourcing prime fruit from old vines in fascinating soils.
Rhône 2022 wines showed well out of the Chapoutier range, although generally it is a variable vintage and one where the choice of producer will be key.
Rhône 2022 will be a vintage that will be remembered as a hot, dry season with drought and heat spikes – the hottest and driest since 1950. Although there was some respite with rains at the end of the growing period (and some devastating hail in the South), this is a vintage where buyers are best steered towards the winemakers who always deliver, whatever the vicissitudes of climate bring. There are some great 2022s and some not so great – in short, it’s a variable and polarised vintage, not one to buy across the board, but one which is full of surprises.
Tasting the new Rhône 2022 wines from M.CHAPOUTIER I was amazed by how fresh the wines were, remarkably so, particularly the reds which had structure, some tannic heft but a juicy brightness to them which brought balance and a good deal of pleasure. Aromas and flavours had intensity with high fruit concentration but in all of the wines tasted you could still find terroir expression with firm, bright acidity helping to achieve fine balance. These wines reminded me of 2007 and 2010 in youth but without the jaminess of those (admittedly high scoring) vintages. Rhône 2022 seems better balanced one theory being that, in some regions a high proportion of vines simply gave up the ghost and stopped ripening their fruit before the end of the growing cycle. The wines from the Northern Rhône I though were particularly strong this year.
The whites on show were nicely balanced, with pronounced aromas, great flavour, and enough acidity to help carry their youthful vivaciousness. Ageability? I’m not convinced there’s enough backbone in the whites to age them for very long but in today’s market that’s not such a bad thing.
If you’re interested in a detailed analysis of the 2022 growing season M.CHAPOUTIER’s website has excellent detail. For an in-depth interview with Michel Chapoutier, with particular emphasis on Saint-Joseph then The Buyer’s Mike Turner talked to him three months ago which you can find here.
In case you don’t know, ‘M.CHAPOUTIER’s Sélections Parcellaires’ are his attempt to draw attention to the ‘Grand Cru’ quality of a selection of his wines in the absence of an official Grand Cru classification in the Rhône. These are rare wines made from fruit coming from the oldest vines with tiny yields – producing as little as 100-700 cases of each. As M.CHAPOUTIER extends its influence beyond the Rhône so the Parcellaires tasting also includes wines from its estates in Alsace, the Rhine, and Roussillon.
So how were the 2022 wines tasting?
Schieferkopf Lieu-Dit Buehl Riesling AOC Alsace 2022
From a South-facing vineyard that shares the same blue schist strip as Berg. Floral nose, ripe orchard fruit, some exotic fruit also. In the mouth there’s a nice balance between rich, concentrated ripe fruit and a keen underbelly of acidity, that’s got a refreshing tart, citric finish. IBD £95 for 6 x 75cl
Schieferkopf Lieu-Dit Berg Riesling AOC Alsace 2022
Also from a South-facing blue schist vineyard, the higher altitude of Berg brings greater finesse to the aromatics and less of the ripe intensity of Buehl. More overtly citrus on the nose – grapefruit, lemon – with crushed rock. The mouthfeel shows more keen acidity – more linear without Buehl’s cloak of voluptuous fruit. IBD £95 for 6 x 75cl
Schieferkopf Lieu-Dit Fels Riesling AOC Alsace 2022
Sourced from a small South-East facing vineyard of shallow schist, the morning sun aspect lending the wine increased elegance. Aromas of yellow stone fruit and meadow herbs, acacia honey. In the mouth the wine has lovely balance between crisp, ripe fruit and a keen citric acidity, mineral, touch of saline on the finish. My favourite of the three. IBD £105 for 6 x 75cl
Domaine de Bila-Haut Chrysopée Blanc AOP Collioure 2022
A fabulous white blend of Grenache Gris (90%) and Grenache Blanc from this Mediterranean region on the French-Spanish border. Intriguing bouquet of delicate white stone fruit, herbs, salty sea air. In the mouth the wine has nice concentrated fruit held by vibrant, mineral-charged salinity. Delicious now and ages well too. IBD £147 for 6 x 75cl
Saint-Joseph Les Granits Blanc AOP Saint-Joseph 2022
A selection of the estate’s oldest Marsanne wines in the appellation, grown on grantic soils. Intense, toasty, ripe white orchard fruit, anise; the mouthfeel is broad, tight acidity prickling away on the front palate, sesame oil, saline. Nice bright finish. Like the previous wine this would be in my basket. IBD £189 for 6 x 75cl
Le Méal Blanc AOP Hermitage 2022
From a 2ha vineyard of old Marsanne (50+ years old) on fluvioglacial alluvial deposit soil with large pebbles. Concentrated, ripe nose featuring grilled pineapple, exotic fruits, roasted nuts; in the mouth the wine is broad, oleaginous, with a wonderful backbone of acidity then leads to a long, crushed rock and saline finish. IBD £629 for 6 x 75cl
De L’Orée AOP Hermitage 2022
From a 3.5ha vineyard of old Marsanne (60-70 years old) on fluvioglacial alluvial deposit soil. Intense, generous nose with ripe yellow stone fruit, peach blossom, grilled corn; in the mouth the wine has crushed rocks, saline, a nervous energy beneath the ample amounts of fruit. Great layers and complexity. IBD £665 for 6 x 75cl
L’Ermite Blanc AOP Hermitage 2022
From a tiny plot of low-yielding 100+ years old Marsanne that sits on the top of Hermitage hill on poor, shallow granitic soils. Restrained noble aromatics, smoky nuance, grilled nuts, brown butter. In the mouth there is a heavenly balance with everything in its right place. Lovely heat, citrus deliciousness peeking through on the tail. Magnificent. IBD £1539 for 6 x 75cl
Domaine de Bila-Haut Chrysopée Rouge E AOP Collioure 2022
From vines overlooking the Mediterranean grown on brown schist this blend of Grenache (90%) and Mourvèdre has an earthy, savoury, spicy nose – mulberries and pencil lead – in the mouth the wine is medium bodied, fresh, textured, spicy with a good deal of the salty, schist terroir shining through. Ripe, present tannins have an attractive rasp to them. Good acidity bringing balance to the heft. IBD £137 for 6 x 75cl
Domaine de Bila-Haut V.I.T. AOP Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages Latour de France 2022
Short for ‘visitare interiore terrae’ some mythological saying about finding the philosopher’s stone (whatever!). This hails from a 70 year-old vineyard in the Côtes-du-Roussillon – a blend of Syrah and Grenache. Garrigue herbs are the top note along with buckets of spicy Syrah, wild red cherries, bay, red liquorice. In the mouth the wine is full-bodied, fresh and warm, concentrated black fruit with a spicy, mineral-fuelled acidity holding it all together. Textured, ripe tannins linger. IBD £163 for 6 x 75cl
Domaine de Bila-Haut R.I. AOP Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages Lesquerde 2022
100% Syrah from a North-facing vineyard on iron rich granitic soils. Floral, earthy nose, alluring aromas, sun-baked herbs, dark chocolate; in the mouth baskets of red forest fruit blend with minerals, herbs and crushed rocks; lovely wild freshness to the wine. Decent balance with freshness and slightly grippy ripe tannins – blue plum skin finish. My favourite red from this region on this showing. IBD £270 for 6 x 75cl
Croix de Bois AOP Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2022
Fascinating nose for this classic blend, hailing from a cool, windy site of red clay soils covered with large round pebbles. Intense nose of concentrated red fruit, crème de fraises, dried orange peel, candy, rose water; in the mouth the wine is intense, structured with robust, textured tannins. Youthful grip on the finish. Slightly disjointed wine I thought but needs time. IBD £242 for 6 x 75cl
Barbe RAC AOP Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2022
The other CNdP on show is made from 100% Grenache from low-yielding vines grown on quartz and silica-rich alluvial soils. Red fruit dominates but leaning more towards black compared to the cooler Croix de Bois vineyard – think mulberry and tart black raspberries with wild herbs. Blood orange and chocolate notes are mentioned in the estate’s tasting notes and who am I to disagree. The wine is medium to full bodied with intense fruit, acidity and tart red and blue fruit. Touch of resin on the long, tannic finish. IBD £242 for 6 x 75cl
Les Granits Rouge AOP Saint-Joseph 2022
A blend of fruit grown on two main plots – East and South-facing granitic soils. Fabulous aromas – concentrated, fruits of the forest, violets and pepper – with an inviting freshness; In the mouth the wine is broad-shouldered, intense, grainy, ripe, graphitic tannins. Tight, grippy finish – so young! Complex, structured, luscious with masses of miles ahead of it. IBD £185 for 6 x 75cl
Le Clos AOP Saint-Joseph 2022
100% Syrah hailing from coarse black mica granite soils within a small, top site within the appellation. Black fruits, fig, spice, Sezchuan pepper, soy. In the mouth the wine has a luscious silky quality, the tannins ripe and partially hidden, lovely freshness to the intense but juicy fruit. Good structure, fine-boned tannins. Nice grip to the finish. IBD £399 for 6 x 75cl
Neve AOP Côte-Rôtie 2022
100% Syrah from a 1.5 hectare site made up of schist and mica soils. Ripe, intense nose of concentrated black fruits, pepper and smoky bacon crisps; in the mouth the wine is so fresh and alluring – gorgeous! The micro-fine tannins are nicely integrated – so well for such a young wine. Washes of fruits of the forest juice. Very refined, a touch of elegance, citric finish. Intensely dry. Put it in your basket 😉 IBD £468 for 6 x 75cl
Les Greffieux AOP Hermitage 2022
100% Syrah hailing from 50+ year old vines located at the base of Hermitage hill – glacial deposits, shingles and clay. Intense bouquet, blue fruit, black chocolate, wild herbs; in the mouth the wine is full bodied but silky and smooth, lovely concentration of fruit but well balanced, the ripe tannins have an almost playful quality, a delicate rasp on the tongue to remind you they mean business. Lovely finish. The Hermitage wines were all showing very well indeed. IBD £445 for 6 x 75cl
Les Méal Rouge AOP Hermitage 2022
Syrah grown on the sunniest steep side of the Hermitage hill – a 0.6 ha plot of vines grown on pebbles and clay. Black fruits dominate, black cherries, a smoke nuance, freshly crushed blackberries, beautifully ripe, nicely integrated tannins, micro-fine texture. Great freshness and balance. Wonderful wine. IBD £778 for 6 x 75cl
Le Pavillon AOP Hermitage 2022
Syrah hailing from the famed 4 ha vineyard of 65 year old vines grown on the Hermitage hillside. Hugely complex nose… dark and broody – fruits of the forest, fig, fire hearth, liquorice root, graphite. In the mouth the wine is smooth, fresh, full bodied but lithe and silky, emery board ripe tannins gently showing great poise on the front palate. The concentration and structure are immense, you can almost feel the weight of the rock behind it. Built for the long haul. IBD £956 for 6 x 75cl
L’Ermite Rouge AOP Hermitage 2022
The jewel in the crown, of course, a 3 ha plot on top of the Hermitage hill, 80+ year old vines growing on poor granitic soils. Complex, powerful, layered, enticing – the aromas offer black fruits, peony, fruit cake, black pepper – the mouthfeel is full-bodied, but with a fresh, lithe quality, silky with micro fine tannins giving grip. Smoky. Immense wine that is still a pup. IBD £1064 for 6 x 75cl
So which wines to buy?
Standout wines for me were the Fels Riesling, Chrysopée Blanc, Les Granits Blanc, L’Ermite Blanc, R.I. AOP Côtes-du-Roussillon, Le Clos, Neve, Les Greffieux, Le Pavillon Hermitage and L’Ermite Rouge, although there weren’t any duds in the entire range. Of the wines shown I would lean towards Northern Rhône rather than Southern. Strong showing this year.
The wines of M.CHAPOUTIER are imported and sold in the UK through Hatch Mansfield, which is a commercial partner of The Buyer. To learn more about them click here.