Founded in 1808, M. Chapoutier is one of the most renowned producers of the Rhone Valley. Though the producer was for much of its history a negociant known for decent but unremarkable wines, the newest generation of the Chapoutier family to run the business, Michel Chapoutier, has since the early 1990s turned the estate into a star. Michel embraced biodynamic viticulture in 1989, completely renovated the cellars and upgraded the elevage by using small oak barrels. With 151.9 acres of vineyards divided between the north and south regions of the Rhone Valley, M. Chapoutier is also one of the largest producers. Nearly 120,000 bottles total are produced each year. The prestige cuvees at the top of the M. Chapoutier line are neither fined nor filtered, giving them a richness and great concentration. Grapes grown by the estate are Syrah, Marsanne, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne. The vines average between 50 and 100 years old.
Languedoc-Roussillon is very large wine-producing region in south and southwestern France extending along the Mediterranean coast from northern Spain to the Rhone Valley. It includes more than 800,000 vineyard acres and numerous appellations, nearly all created since the mid-20th century. Languedoc-Roussillon produces one-third of all the wine made in France and it long had a reputation for quantity over quality. In the last few decades, however, outside investors and some long-time local producers have greatly improved vineyard practices and winemaking. The result is that Languedoc-Roussillon is now home to many entrepreneurially-minded producers highly focused on quality, and it enjoys a buzz among wine buyers looking for well-crafted, robust wines offered at excellent values. The most successfully grown red grapes are the traditional Rhone varietals of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, though Carignan and Cinsault are also planted. The intense sun and dry weather makes it tougher to grow white grapes, though Chardonnay and some other white grapes are often successful. Chardonnay is used for the popular sparkling wine Crémant de Limoux, a Languedoc-Roussillon appellation created in 1990.