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. (RP)
From vines grown at the top of the Hermitage hill, this wine seems to have been nearly unaffected by the September downpours of 2002. It's as stony as the ground from which it came, with roasted spice notes that bring to mind sunny Rhône valley days, when the heat brings out a savory scent of earth and herbs. The fruit may not be as ripe and full as is typical for Chapoutier's L'Ermite, but it's still as juicy as crushed cherries, with coffee-ground tannins tethering it to the earth. It's a terrific showing from a challenging vintage, and deserving of a place in your cellar for another decade or more.
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