Year in and year out, one of the three greatest Hermitages made is Chapoutier’s Le Pavillon. The black/blue-colored 2000 Ermitage Le Pavillon is brilliant out of bottle. Notes of graphite, ink, licorice, creme de cassis, and minerals jump from the glass of this syrup of Hermitage. Full-bodied, unctuously-textured, gorgeously rich, spectacularly concentrated and long, it is a tour de force in winemaking. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2040. (I disagree, but Michel Chapoutier feels his finest three Le Pavillons to date have been 1991 followed by 1995 and 2000. I retain a preference for the glorious trilogy of 1989, 1990, and 1991.)
This uncompromising offering from a young genius is not meant for consumers who want something to drink immediately. It is the essence of bio-dynamically farmed vineyard sites cropped incredibly low, given extended fermentations with indigenous yeasts, and rarely touched until it goes into the bottle unfined and unfiltered. In most vintages, the wine is not even racked off its lees, which only adds to its natural style. This is truly a remarkable wine, but for most readers, patience is the operative rule as it needs a good 8-10 years to strut its stuff.
Once moribund, over the last 12 years, this firm has become one of the reference points for nearly all the Rhone Valley appellations since the brash yet immensely talented Michel Chapoutier took over in the late eighties. The single vineyard offerings are as good as Rhone Valley wines can be. Moreover, Chapoutier continues to upgrade the quality of those wines offered in more significant quantities than the 500 or so cases each of the single vineyard offerings.