Chapoutier Marc Egrappe 20yrs Cotes du Rhone 43% 700ml
After maceration is completed, the marcs are pressed and conserved ready for distillation. We carry out our own traditional distillation using a hundred-year-old copper column still. A single batch distillation process is used to preserve the aromatic authenticity of the different Rhône Valley terroirs. The eau-de-vie (70% alc.Vol.) is then aged for 15 to 20 years in 228 litre barrels (pièces) and 600 litre barrels (demi-muids) made of fine-grained French oak which previously held our finest red and white wines. This ageing adds empyreumatic, spice and undergrowth notes to the elegant, fruity bouquet and the liquid takes on an intense golden colour with copper tints. On the palate, the fiery character gradually gives over to softness. Over the years, the gradual evaporation of the alcohol (the “angels’ shar”) results in a natural reduction of the alcohol to between 40 and 45% alc.Vol. This Marc Egrappé is a blend of eaux-de-vie de marc from our terroirs in the Northern and Southern Rhône Valley: Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, Châteauneuf-du-Pape...
At one time, not that long ago Chapoutier, today one of the Rhône Valley's big-name négociants and most successful wine empires, was nothing more than a failing family enterprise, heavily in debt. That the business survived through to today is due solely to the efforts of one Chapoutier scion, Michel, who bought out all his siblings, cousins, maiden aunts and other family members who held shares. With full and complete control of the business (bringing, it should be noted, all the risk and responsibility as well as all the potential rewards) he then set to work turning things around. And not only did the business survive, it thrived. It must have been a tremendous uphill struggle for Michel at first, who was only 26 years old when he took the reins; but when I met him in May 2011 - sadly the first time I have come face-to-face with the man, now 47 years old - it was perhaps apparent why he succeeded. Indeed, why it was perhaps inevitable that he would succeed. If the energy emitted by Michel in one day could be harnessed and fed into France's national grid, the government could decommission one of their more aged nuclear power stations in an instant. And the non-nuclear power lies in their Fines (Brandies) and Marcs (Pomace brandy/grappa) which were forgotten or ignored for so long by the public that one can access and admire 25 or 50 year old beauties showing off their Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Shiraz reminiscences .