Michel Chapoutier is best known for his Rhone Valley wines, but he also puts his stamp of excellence on Roussillon with his Domaine Bila-Haut, a which he purchased in 1999. Thanks to Jane Kettlewell of Creative Palate Communications and HB Wine Merchants, we recently had the opportunity to taste the outstanding Bila-Haut wines. This domaine has 75 hectares of biodynamically-farmed vineyards of Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah planted on steep slopes of schist, clay and limestone in the Côtes du Roussillon.
The family-owned Maison M. Chapoutier winery is located in Tain-l’Hermitage and dates back to 1808. Michel Chapoutier took on winemaking responsibilities at the domaine in 1987 and bought the family winery from his grandfather in 1990 at age 26 and transformed it into the leading producer of the Rhone.
Our earlier article on Bila-Haut can be found here.
Chapoutier 2016 Bila-Haut Blanc Côtes du Roussillon ($15) 89 The Bila-Haut Blanc is an easy drinking wine that would work well as part of a wine-by-the-glass program. Grenache Blanc plays a lead role here with melon and pear aromas and flavors and a full, lush mouth feel. Outstanding for the price. A blend of hand-picked Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu.
Chapoutier 2016 Bila-Haut Rouge Côtes du Roussillon Villages ($15) 90The Bila-Haut Rouge is a pleasant, everyday wine. It offers appealing fresh red plum, blackberry, and cherry on the nose and equally attractive dark red fruit on a nicely balanced, moderately concentrated, soft palate. A blend of hand-harvested Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. The Côtes du Roussillon Villages appellation is for red wines only.
Chapoutier 2016 Bila-Haut L’esquerda Côtes du Roussillon Villages ($28) 91 The L’esquerda is a big step up from the generic Rouge. It offers both yummy fruit and savory notes. Blackberry, licorice and a touch of loam and a smooth mouth feel contribute to its overall appeal. Good balance and a firm, long finish, too! It’s mostly Syrah with Grenache and Carignan blended in. 10% of the wine is aged in oak casks, the rest in concrete tanks. This vineyard is located on the limestone based cliffs near the village of L’esquerda.
Chapoutier 2015 Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Côte du Roussillon Villages Latour de France ($40) 92 The Occultum Lapidem is a big, meaty wine with toast, and garrique scents. It’s rich and harmonious in the mouth with a lovely texture, good concentration and impressive purity. Finishes very very long with firm but approachable tannins. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan about half aged in oak casks.
Chapoutier 2014 Bila-Haut v.i.t. Côte du Roussillon Villages Latour de France ($90) 93 Revealing a spicy, black pepper and dark fruited nose, the Visitare Interiore Terrae is ripe and refined with a silky attack and a firm, deep mouth feel. Flavors run to spicy, black fruit with notes of black olive and chocolate. It has excellent concentration and depth of flavor and finishes long with soft, round tannins. A blend of 65% old-vine (70 years) Grenache and 35% Syrah grown in calcareous and schist soils and matured in oak for 18 months.