Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Hermitage “La Chapelle”
Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Hermitage “La Chapelle”

Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Hermitage “La Chapelle”

Northern Rhône, France 2011 (750mL)
Regular price$175.00
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Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Hermitage “La Chapelle”

Want to experience a producer who single-handedly elevated the (now) immortalized terroir of Northern Rhône? That’d be Paul Jaboulet Aîné. How about a perennial, century-deep flagship cuvée that’s been routinely categorized as some of the finest wine on record? That’d be “La Chapelle” Hermitage Rouge. Today, you have the rare opportunity to secure just that with this recently unearthed, dozen-year-old treasure. 

This is a first-time “Chapelle” feature for SommSelect, and we couldn’t be more elated to highlight one of the world’s most iconic labels, from a 2011 back-vintage that’s being (1) frequently compared to Jaboulet’s beloved ’91 and (2) celebrated amongst Jaboulet’s grandest contemporary creations. Jeb Dunnuck and James Suckling called it “beautiful” and “complex” with “gorgeous intensity.” Other luminaries said it was a “monumental and real” Hermitage that inevitably exists as “one of the standouts of the vintage.” Personally, I think it’s the shrewdest way to spend your premium Hermitage buck, especially when considering Chave’s 2011 is $500. We can part with up to four bottles per person. 

When anyone first learns about historic Rhône Valley producers, Guigal, Chapoutier, and Jaboulet will undoubtedly be part of the reading material. Like Champagne’s “Grandes Marques” (e.g. Krug, Bollinger), these large “maison” enterprises purchase fruit from the valley’s greatest appellations but they also maintain their own enviable collection of vineyards. And Jaboulet’s estate-owned parcels on the grand hill of Hermitage might be the most impressive of all. Antoine Jaboulet began working this hillside in the 1830s, and subsequent generations in the mid-1900s turned this sleepy land into the most revered Syrah appellation on earth. Because of the family’s longstanding dedication to these vineyards, Paul Jaboulet Aîné now owns over 20 hectares of prime real estate here, approximately 10 of which lie in the prized lieux-dits “Le Méal” and “Les Bessards.”

Although the estate’s sale in 2006 surprised the wine world, proprietor Jean-Jacques Frey and his family have done a tremendous job with the transition. His daughter, Caroline, oversees production today and was an immediate driver for organic and biodynamic farming. Her naturally farmed vines up on Hermitage are well-aged, many beyond 50, and yields are impossibly low with some parcels producing as little as 15hl/ha.

Their cult classic “La Chapelle” cuvée takes its name from the small stone chapel at the top of Hermitage which was purchased by the Jaboulet family in 1919 (side note: I’ve learned firsthand that a cold morning jog up this hill will cure any Syrah hangover). Although 100% Syrah, the blend is never an exact formula because the parcels are vinified separately and then blind-tasted to determine if it’s worthy of “Grand Vin” material. Still, one can likely assume “Méal” makes up the backbone of the blend with “Bessards,” Greffieux,” and “Rocoules” rounding it out. Maturation occurs in smaller French oak, anywhere between 25-50% new depending on the vintage.

Jeb Dunnuck, who’s tasted many-a-vertical of La Chappelle, has a fantastic quote regarding  its evolution in bottle over time:

“Thick and unctuous in its youth, it takes roughly a decade for this wine to shed its tannin, with most hitting full maturity at age 10-15 and having upwards of two decades after that of prime drinking. Top vintages can hold for an incredible amount of time, and this is one Hermitage that can challenge the drink windows of great Bordeaux.”

As you can see, this wine’s prime drinking window is wide open. Decanted for 30 minutes, more if you think your bottle needs it, this delivers pure Hermitage hedonism in the glass. It’s deep and savory—leather, iron, cedar, peppered bacon fat, olive tapenade, soy—yet still equipped with plenty of gloss and richness in the form of black cherry, cassis, roasted plum, and licorice. It’s long, complex, and bursting with a sort of intoxicating, untamed earthiness. It’s a beauty, and most certainly one of the champions of the 2011 vintage. Enjoy your bottle slowly, over several hours.


Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Hermitage “La Chapelle”




Enjoying the greatest wines of Beaujolais starts, as it usually does, with the lay of the land. In Beaujolais, 10 localities have been given their own AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin) designation. They are: Saint Amour; Juliénas; Chénas; Moulin-à Vent; Fleurie; Chiroubles; Morgon; Régnié; Côte de Brouilly; and Brouilly.

Southwestern France


Bordeaux surrounds two rivers, the Dordogne and Garonne, which intersect north of the city of Bordeaux to form the Gironde Estuary, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The region is at the 45th parallel (California’s Napa Valley is at the38th), with a mild, Atlantic-influenced climate enabling the maturation of late-ripening varieties.

Central France

Loire Valley

The Loire is France’s longest river (634 miles), originating in the southerly Cévennes Mountains, flowing north towards Paris, then curving westward and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes. The Loire and its tributaries cover a huge swath of central France, with most of the wine appellations on an east-west stretch at47 degrees north (the same latitude as Burgundy).

Northeastern France


Alsace, in Northeastern France, is one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world, with vineyards running from the foothills of theVosges Mountains down to the Rhine River Valley below.

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