Rhône Legend Chapoutier and the Michelin 3-Star Chef
When Rhône legend Michel Chapoutier’s name came up two weeks ago over dinner at Napa’s Michelin-starred La Toque, and I was asked what I thought about his under-the-radar collaboration with Michelin 3-star Chef Yannick Alléno, I mumbled something smart, but realized I had to rectify the true answer. Given Michel’s superstar pedigree, and racy, densely layered reds from his massive sprawl of famous Rhône vineyards, I had high expectations for the 2015 Yannick Alléno & Michel Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône that crossed my desk earlier this week. Yannick, for his part, has earned three Michelin stars at two different restaurants — a feat that puts him in Alain Ducasse territory. Yannick serves the wine at his adored Champs-Élysées eatery Pavillon Ledoyen, which is a bit of a statement: In my experience, whenever a Michelin 3-star chef is pouring their wine at their restaurant, it had better overdeliver for its category. This one does that and much more. Propelled by red-fruit aromatics and voluptuous decadence, marked by generous black and blue fruit and a distinct mineral ribbon. This is a delicious wine worthy of any Michelin 3-star restaurant wine list. You won’t find its 2015 vintage anywhere but here, and we have it for $19.99 per bottle.
Decanter hails 2015 as “an excellent vintage on every level” for the Northern Rhône. Some have gone even further than this, proclaiming it equal to 1929, 1947, and 1961’s near-mythic years. Few people were better suited to take advantage of these conditions than Michel, whose eponymous winery owns nearly a quarter of the vines planted on the hills of Rhône’s prestigious Hermitage appellation.
Michel’s no stranger to collaborating with chefs, and he’s been making wine with Yannick since 2010. Their collaboration and close friendship rests on a foundation of deep passion for terroir, evident in each of their respective areas of expertise. Michel crafts his wines to reveal the land’s truths. Yannick, meanwhile, uses culinary techniques like extraction and fermentation to coax the sense of terroir from his food. This deep mutual affinity provides the backbone of this 2015 Côtes du Rhône collaboration, and this foundation enables bold, powerful flavors and audacious structure to flourish.
Praising its “serious mid-palate depth” and “big finish,” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate bestowed 91-93 points on this wine. This powerhouse Rhône is perfect for pairing with something fancy like Yannick’s chicken fricassee dish with artichokes and potatoes or a simple steak plucked from your grill.
Editor-in-Chief, Wine Access