1998 M. Chapoutier "Le Méal" Ermitage Rouge

SKU #991641 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Compared to the 1999, the 1998 Ermitage le Meal seamed slightly one-dimensional on the nose and left me craving a touch more complexity. However, it made up for it on the palate and was more expansive and opulent, with full-bodied richness, terrific concentration and a surprising amount of tannic grip that came through on the blockbuster finish. Showing classic Hermitage notes of beef blood, currants, smoked earth and licorice, drink this rich, fabulously textured 1998 over the coming 2-3 decades. (JD)  (9/2015)

93 points Wine Spectator

 Beautiful. Supple tannins, full-bodied and balanced, with rich and ripe fruit. If seduction is the standard, this is hedonistic, with subtle smoke and toast character along with red berry and blackberry concentration. (PM)  (7/2000)

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Deep ruby-red. Knockout aromas of cassis, leather, tobacco, bacon fat and barbecued meat. Dense, quite dry and suave, with a compelling note of woodsmoke. Still quite tightly wound. Really builds toward the back end, which features big, broad tannins and subtle, complex flavors. This has the tangy brightness of the best '98s from the Northern Rhone. 92+ (ST)  (1/2001)

Jancis Robinson

 Dark crimson. Slightly dull nose but good. Convincing, vibrant if slightly dry fruit on the palate. Dry, insistent tannins. But confidence. Rather old-fashioned and brutal in structure. But no shortage of personality. One of the old school? At least there is some confidence here for long-term drinking. 17.5/20 points  (2/2005)

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Price: $199.99
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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.


- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them. Click for a list of bestselling items from all of France.


- Legendary wine-producing region in southeast France. Stereotypically speaking, Rhone wines are high in alcohol, and the majority produced is red. The northern Rhone is best known for outstanding 100% Syrah wines from areas such as Cote Rotie and Hermitage, as well as for fabulous white wines from Condrieu (where Viognier is king). In the southern Rhone, look for spicy, full-bodied wines that are blends of Grenache, Syrah, and other varietals coming from appellations such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, or Rasteau. Wines labeled as Cote du Rhone or Cotes du Rhone Village (a cut above generic Cotes du Rhone) are frequently found here in the US because they often represent some of the best values on the market. View our bestselling Rhone Valley wines.
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