m. chapoutier, hermitage, le pavillon 2018
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2018 Ermitage le Pavillon is a plush, full-bodied beauty that combines fruity notes of blueberries with savory notes of black olives and marries them together with rich, earthy notes. Almost creamy across the mid-palate, it finishes with soft waves of velvety tannins. I expect this will firm up a bit prior to bottling, then drink well for two decades. As has become my habit, I scheduled a full morning with Michel Chapoutier and his team to taste through the company's wines from the Northern Rhône. The fascination here with individual wines of terroir means that the number of bottlings has grown considerably over the years, and the session always includes wines from several partnerships Chapoutier has with other personalities, like renowned chefs in the Pic Chapoutier and Michael Alléno and Michel Chapoutier wines (reviews listed separately). It was fascinating to sample the 2017s and 2018s in such close proximity, as some cuvées/appellations seemed to have fared better in 2017, while others look potentially better in 2018. At the very top end, you can't go wrong with any of the sélections parcellaires from either vintage.
Suave, mineral- and spice-accented aromas of blackberry, cherry liqueur and pungent flowers show superb clarity and energetic lift. Sappy and penetrating in the mouth, displaying sharply defined black/blue fruit, violet pastille and spicecake flavors that turn livelier as the wine opens up. Finishes extremely long and minerally, with intense, spicy thrust, a repeating floral note and gently chewy tannins.
The 2018 Ermitage Le Pavillon is just as good yet has a more liquid rock-like character that needs to be tasted to be believed. Revealing an inky purple/blue color as well as incredible notes of blueberries, cassis, crushed rock, liquid violets, and new leather, this off-the-charts barrel sample has massive richness and depth, building tannins, and a finish that won't quit. It’s not for those looking for instant gratification but is a legendary Hermitage in the making.