The 2003 Hermitage la Chapelle is a stunner! From a scorching-hot year that may never be repeated, this behemoth took two months to ferment dry and hit 14.1% natural alcohol. In addition, while in a big year they can produce 80,000 to 90,000 bottles (or more in the case of the 2000), they only made 50,000 bottles of the '03. Locked and loaded with notions of plums, Asian spice, olive tapenade and sweet cassis, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a massive mid-palate and layers of sweet tannin. This blockbuster is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and will drink beautifully for another 15-20 years. (JD)
*** Top 100 Wines of 2006 and Collectibles *** Deceptively graceful at first, with a Burgundy-like perfume, this quickly delivers a torrent of fruit--blackberry, boysenberry and black currant--that cascades over itself, pushed from behind by flavors of mocha, mineral, tar and violets. Long, sweet and pure through a densely structured finish. Best from 2008 through 2030. (JM)
Impressive ripeness and intensity with strawberry jam and hints of raisins. But it's floral, intense, meaty and powerful. Nougat. This is full-bodied and chewy with attractive structure and purity for this very hot vintage. A little dry on the finish, but complex and intense. (JS)
Deep, saturated ruby. Intensely spicy aromas of blackberry, bitter cherry, tobacco and minerals, with a complicating note of black pepper that became more pronounced with air. This is quite fresh and lively for the vintage, showing tangy red and dark berry flavors and a solid, chewy texture. Finishes with considerable finesse. (JR)
Massively built, this swaggers like a prizefighter, its deep, staining flavors of black fruits and molasses throbbing with raw, smoky power. It's clearly in need of time, but it will always be a wine that thrives on muscularity rather than finesse or complexity. It's impressive for the sheer scale of its fruit and the way that the ripeness is controlled within a structured frame. Be prepared for a heady, full-throttled experience.
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