Saturated medium ruby. Deep, highly concentrated aroma of black fruits, bitter chocolate, shoe polish and humus. Thick but bright on entry, then quite full and consistent through to the very long whiplash of a finish. Really stuffed with fruit, and beautifully balanced. Dense flavors of cassis, violet, bitter chocolate and Cuban tobacco. Substantial ripe tannins are thoroughly buffered by the wine's fat. A great showing today.
The generous harvest (though curbed a little by early season work on the vines) gives us a foretaste of the very good quality of our wines, with a rich, full body present in force in our whites. The red wines, like the whites, have been conferred a good acid-alcohol balance and the very first tastings from the vats have given a foresight of red wines with an intensity of colour perhaps never before seen. I feel that the 1999 vintage, both red and white, has rewarded the producer for all his labours throughout the year. The 1999 vintage is characterised by a paradox : exceptional quantity and quality!!! In spite of all the work carried out in the vineyards (heavy pruning, "green" harvesting, thinning), even on the old vines up on the higher slopes, the 1999 production was very high. This has given the wines a great richness of complexity and density. The white wines were difficult to press and the yield of juice was quite low. They enjoy a nice acidity and they are "fatty" in the mouth. The red wines underwent a very long maceration and are thus well-coloured, substantial wines. The well-dispersed, but strong tannins endow the wine with a great potential for keeping. The 1999 vintage will undoubtedly figure amongst the finest wines of the last two decades.
Jaboulet's view of its most famous wine seems to have changed. Although the concentrated, dense tannins and big black fruit flavors are still there, it has lost the huge brooding presence of past vintages, and now has a veneer of sophistication with superripe fruit, plums and dark jam tastes. Whether this 1999 will age as well as older vintages remains to be seen, but it will certainly be ready to drink sooner.
Pretty, with a supple opulence enveloped in fat tannins and ripe fruit. Delivers plum, blackberry and black cherry character. Tight and firm for now, even closed. Needs time. Best from 2003 through 2010. 7,500 cases made.
I retasted the 1999 Hermitage La Chapelle. While it is unquestionably an excellent effort, it is well below the standards of the appellation's benchmark producers. It requires another 3-5 years of cellaring, and should last twenty-five years, but it will always lack volume and density, and possess a certain austerity.