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The Wines

85-90% 1927-28 Syrah and some Roussanne, Marsanne from Le Méal, 10-15% 1984-85 Syrah from Greffieux, can be about 50% destemmed (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 all whole bunch), 3 week vinification, early pumping overs to oxygenate the yeasts, cap punched, aged 25% new, 75% 1-6 year oak 16-20 months (first new oak was 2004), unfined, unfiltered, 2,432-5,000 b

2018

(used 228-litre cask, 17 casks this year, not had so many since 1999) deep robe. There is a bull’s blood intensity on the nose, concerted black fruits, black olives – it is sleek and profound, a real Child of the Night, is slinky, with most welcoming fruit beckoning you in. The palate engages with a wavy black fruit offer; the pleasure is sensaround, and there is naughty raciness in its svelte fruit. I find it has more hidden depths than 2017, is wholesome, and very, very persistent, flourishes on the close. It has subtleties, perhaps more than 2017, carries some Burgundian tendencies, most sexy fruit, silky and savoury, very long and sensuous. 14.1°. 2053-56 Nov 2018  GB £650/6 b in bond The Wine Society +44(0)1438 741177 https://www.thewinesociety.com/openingoffer/Overview.aspx?offercode=wrh181

2017

(used 228-litre cask) the colour is a full red, a dark robe it is. This has a lingering, lurking nose on black cherry with a coiled spring effect; it lies low on a lovely couch of ripe fruit. The palate carries much potential, silken tannins in close collusion with suave gras richness that flows and glides without ripples. There are nuances of inner detail, contribution. This is ace. There is a touch of the deep south late on, liqueur. The length is first class, Rolls Royce. What a delight here; the balance takes on lip smacking black fruits, black olive notions on the close. It retains the sense of Syrah from granite in the late moments, fine lines of mineral. The whole bunch use has served it well, its springy clarity. Decanting advised. There were 12 casks, a good quantity this year. From 2023. 2051-53 Nov 2018 Previously Nov 2017 ****** (used 228-litre cask, sugars, malo completed) deep, dark red. Has a serene, handsome nose, curvy and shiny-fruited, a hint of lees, a lot of elegant small black fruits, a hint of raspberry. The palate links closely, its suave gras really purrs along, Rolls Royce time here. There is a most winning gradual crescendo, symphonic it is. There’s juicy bounty, velvet tannins on the close. This is Grand Vin, with flair and class. It has a bit more finesse than 2015, the tannins have a fine detail. 14.5°. From 2025. 2047-49 Nov 2017

2016

(used 228-litre cask) dark red; there is a cassis burst on the nose, hedgerow fruits, a tarry backdrop. It keeps up well, prolongs, has lift. The palate links well to the nose, serves rolling gras richness, a good continuous run of red fruits, raspberry and mulberry; the gras richness lasts OK. It’s not especially deep in fact, but is continuous. It’s a tricky vintage wine, I feel. The elements are separate now, not an ensemble. The tannins crunch out on their own at the end. It gets a bit vegetal on the close, which is smoky, and it needs to be allowed time to fuse. I usually find the two Hermitage reds more apart in quality than this. “The yield effect has closed the gap,” Marc Sorrel. From 2023. 2042-45 Nov 2017

2015

(228-litre cask) the robe has an inky darkness, is really profound. The nose is perfumed, gives blackberry with a softly sustained depth, is filled with very primary fruit, the fruit presented with seamless layering. This has a stylish, wonderful attack, offers classy bounty, covers the ground every way, glides on filled content, its silken tannins making a great connection. This holds fine juice, detail, is a complete package. It ends on drops of salt, has supreme balance. Nature’s Child here – man not needed. It is sultry and clear, all in one glass. There is a wee glow on the aftertaste – it is 14.2°. “The tannins are very soft, very ripe,” Marc Sorrel. From say 2021, but leave it as long as you can. 2053-56 Apr 2016 Previously Dec 2015 ****** (228-litre oak cask, sugars and malo completed) very dark robe – it is shiny and beckoning, with black and purple tints. This has a wide panorama nose, gives smoke, licorice, with salt and crushed nutshells, an air from the stems. The depth is genuine and sustained. The palate gives a silken, expansive greeting – it appeals from its orb-like qualities, a winning roundness, while its tannins creep in on the finish, a light squeeze of crunch there. There are multilayers of gras here, all sealed in together. It is very rich, also very clear, and I find it incredible that its tannins are already largely integrated. There are shades of ripe Pinot in this Grand Vin, one with a long future. This sun-filled year is possibly like 1990, but is better, fresher, more balanced in my view. Similar to Méal 1961, or perhaps 1947? “It is very fluid, and I wonder if it’s like Grenache, while the tannins are very ripe and smooth,” Marc Sorrel. 14°. From – well, eventually! I wouldn’t be in any hurry, simply to allow the wine to display as much complexity as it possibly could. 2053-57  Dec 2015

2014

(cask) dark red robe. Attractive blackberry fruit lies at the heart of the bouquet, has some earthy-gamey surround, a note of licorice. There is a peppery infusion in its clear run of black fruit, and a touch of a vegetal aspect in the late tannin – that leaves a granular effect. This is clear wine, with quiet gras that leans towards Pinot noir. It will be great in a large glass around 2023-25. This gives plum-fruited, aromatic pleasure. 13.5°. “Don’t drink this before eight to 10 years’ old, but it won’t live as long as 2012 or 2013,” Marc Sorrel. 2035-37 Apr 2016 Previously Dec 2015 ****(*) (228-litre oak cask) dark, brilliant robe. A black cherry- cassis duo feature on the nose which is snugly rounded, has good, juvenile sheen, isn’t yet varied apart from a note of licorice. This attacks well, has a probing density in mid-palate, is a rich from within wine. There are oaked late moments, even though no new oak is used; hence there is vanilla on the exit. This has Burgundian poise and a southern heart. There is an increase in tar on the finish. Has good style, bears refined juice. “It is very elegant, tastes well, is a joli vin,” Marc Sorrel. From 2019. 2035-38 £369 6 bots i/bond Lay & Wheeler +44(0)1473 313 300 www.laywheeler.co.uk Dec 2015

2013

(228-litre oak cask, whole bunch crop wine, one of only eight casks) very dark red. The nose is grilled-toasted, with a smooth, profound inlay of dark red fruit, black cherries a go-go. Hints of flowers circulate, and overall the nose implies future breadth and power of expression. There is a steely, muscular opening on the palate – this has cojones, while the juice is delivered in fine droplets at the same time, is savoury and clear. A sure fire winner here. It persists very well, en finesse, is extremely long. It is precise and fine, is a very good wine. Very ripe stems help it. The finish is a good mix of licorice, blackberry and perfume. “It has complexity, the crop very ripe – it’s a pity I didn’t have more,” Marc Sorrel. 14°. 2,432 bottles this year. 14°. From 2019. 2040-43 GB £426/6 bots in bond Berry Brothers 0800 280 2440 +44(0)207 022 8973  www.bbr.com Jan 2015

2012 ()

dark, plum red robe. Big, bold, soaked raspberry air in a deep and wide bouquet that has a generous instinct, shows brambly fruits with liqueur notions. This is plush, rich in style, is quite a high octane Hermitage red. It develops a more precise touch as it goes along, a good feature. It ends with good running and a texture that is oily, lip smacking. It is child-like now, but is promising. It is exuberant now, will close, so leave until 2019 for a good start and variety of maturity. 14.5°. 2036-39  Jan 2015 Previously Nov 2013 ****(*) (228-litre oak cask, whole bunch crop wine) rather full red; there are floral moments, a wavy black cherry fruit on the nose which has good heart and allure. There is a lightly toasted backdrop. This is a very good example of the aroma of Syrah at Hermitage. The palate debut is close-knit, has proper classy depth and finesse, is nicely together. It has a surround of pebbly, mineral elements. There is spark in its fruit and freshness as it ends. The finale is tight. Burgundian style to this. 90% Méal as usual. Only 8 casks this year against 13 casks in 2011. From 2018. 2032-35  Nov 2013  Previously Nov 2012 ***** (cask, malo done, SO2 2 days ago) dark red, purple robe. Spice comes with a confident, attractive black cherry fruit aroma that has a touch of sweetness. This has body without forcing, and is long. A genuine style of Hermitage, natural depth to it. There is a lovely flourish on the aftertaste, a burst of bright, floral red fruit. 26-28 years. “I didn’t destem this year – usually I destem half - to have more acidity, the stems were small and suitable,” Marc Sorrel. 14°. Nov 2012

2011 ()

dark red. The nose is substantial, gives an air of prune, a full depth of raspberry, with mystery in its waters. It breathes some southern strength. The palate mixes moments of tasty, running red fruit with chunky matter; it is moving in the right direction. It tightens towards the finish, which is substantial. Ripe, pressing tannins lie inside. A proper Hermitage red with its dark influences and sustained palate. it will gain over time. The finish has spark, some tar, its juice lasts well. It just needs to refine its sign-off. “It is likely to shut over the next year, then come back in five to six years (around 2018 onwards); it is good now,” Marc Sorrel. From 2018, say. 13.5°. 2036-40  Nov 2013  Previously **** (cask) 100% Le Méal this year – quite full red, purple touches. Blackberry fruit, free running nose with a drift of licorice. There is good cut in the black berry fruit along the palate, which is aromatic at heart. Attractive wine, a step up from the classic. It extends well, with a spot of late gras richness adding length and interest. There is a light sweetness through the palate, a fine sprinkle of tannin, and it finishes on a tasty, spiced note. Interesting wine. “I like these 2011 wines that allow the typicity to come out from the most noble terroirs. I compare it to 2007 and 2004, which are 15 to 20 year wines, and this will be very good around 2018-19,” Marc Sorrel. 13.3°. From 2016. 2035-38  Nov 2012

2010

(5 year cask, bottling April 2012) rather full red robe; blackberry fruit air, scent of licorice across the glass – the nose is reserved today, the blackberry I find beguiling. The palate is finely sculpted, bears fine tannin that comes through carefully and freshly on the second half. The length is comfortable. A wine centred on freshness, purity, no make-up, subtle depth, one for Burgundy lovers. It carries good, silken fruit, is very elegant, a gainer over time, STGT wine. I can imagine it being very aromatic, and Pinot-like. Laurel features on the aftertaste. Down 25% this year, so 2,700 b. Its balance will allow it to live well – 2039-42. Nov 2011 Previously Nov 2010 ***** (fibre glass vat, malo nearly done) bounding, handsome colour. Also a striking nose, has a good, intense centre, the fruit aroma is bright. Plenty on the palate, which reaches out, travels sideways. Vibrant fruits, good cut and life in this. Perhaps it is less imposing than the 2009, but is very good. Has balance and crisp tannins, life, is long. Very good and promising early in its life. 30+ years life, say. Nov 2010

2009

(cask) giant dark robe; the bouquet spreads across the glass – here are black cherry with oily appeal and an intense, brooding quality. The palate is where the richness, the very ripe crop really comes through. Lots of gras here, fat, a bold cherry flavour, with a wee bit of late grilled on it, but that is not a new oak effect. Very long, a first class Hermitage, really classic. “Its tannins are fine, it is so nice you could almost drink it now,” Marc Sorrel. I find it is more silken than 1999, and with the intensity come both finesse and elegance. From 2015-16. 2039-42 Nov 2010

2008 No Rating

NOT PRODUCED - only 600 litres, which went into the classic wine. Mildew.

2007 ()

sturdy dark red, thorough robe with good sheen in it. The nose is roasted, has an air of soaked black fruits, a light note of damp forest, just a small one. It becomes darker with air. The palate gives a supple gourmandise, scented plum fruit, bears attractive, smooth tannins. It has good density from within. This will stay like this for some time now – the late stages are fresh; it is a little airborne in a belle manner. This is really unforced, thorough Hermitage, which starts to tighten as it breathes. There are really persistent floral notes on the finish, which then becomes peppery after two hours. Very good. 14°. 2036-39  Oct 2015 Previously Dec 2009 **** plum red, quite bright robe. Has a smoky, gently persistent red jam aroma with a sunny – baked – air that correctly reflects its origins. Sweet raspberry, prune and kirsch plum aromas mingle. The palate has interesting red fruit at the start – these marked red fruits are surrounded by grilled notes. It lengthens on some heat and that baked aspect – here is the wind factor. It is open by nature, not mysterious. From spring 2012 to allow the finish to open and blossom, and for it to go past its primary, early palate flattery. There are pepper moments on the finish for now. The length is quite good. A wine that can reach a serene stage. “It has less richness than 2006 and 2005 – it can keep for 15 years – after that is more risky,” Marc Sorrel. 2030-33 Dec 2009 Previously Dec 2008 **** (5 year cask) steady, full red robe. Has an interesting, pretty red fruits aroma that travels easily across the glass – a clear raspberry here. There are dark notes in the palate`s red fruit – it comes with a good, sustained burst, some jam ripeness from half way. It gives the sense of thick grape skins towards the finish – the “jam” is entered with a nutty, dry nature – maybe we are talking North Wind (La Bise) and the late sun. Plenty of go in this wine – it is STGT, with its vintage well inside it. From 2012 – its finish is a touch tough for now. 2028-31 Dec 2008

2006

bright, steady, quite dark red robe; has a big style aroma – the top scent is floral, violet, with fruit such as raspberry, red berry. The palate is big and busty – there is very good fruit in this, has a real glow, its red fruits rich and flowing well, with good late freedom. The red fruits are intense, and have a curve of tannin around them. The length is good – this has a nice final flourish, and is well sustained. Very authentic, clear-cut, STGT wine. The tannins need leaving for another three years or so. I like its nerve and proper local nature. €65. 2031-34Dec 2008 Previously Nov 2007 ***** (steel tank, to be bottled March 2008) bright, shiny dark black cherry robe; black and raspberry fruit with an elegant air on the nose, fenced in by some oak; there is plenty of good quality fruit within this classy bouquet. The palate runs along with a good, consistent flow; the black fruit is clearly struck, and gets tasty and a little sweet at the end. With its oak, is a wine of some polish, is very long and well-founded. There is good life in the tannins. Is very consistent on the palate, so could be drunk earlier than some vintages, say from 2011. 15.5°. 2032-35 Nov 2007 “There was a bit more yield than usual – 35 hl/ha, but all the elements are good,” M.S.

2005

black and red in the robe; the nose is really locked up, though there is an elegant tone. It gives hints of black fruit, pepper and oiliness. The palate is a full boyo, tightly packed, with spiced black fruit and a kick of tannin. It is still narrow in its projection, and has not got far down the road: this is all about potential. The tannins are enclosing its pretty big presence. The length is good. Not at its best today, is at a quiet moment. Indeed a manly wine from a manly vintage, not a wine for the gourmandise brigade – is complicated and deserves big occasions and planning. Exactly why the Bordelais bought Hermitage in the past. Needs a lot of patience. 15°. 2036-38 Nov 2007 Previously April 2006 (cask) ***** notably dark colour. The aroma veers towards chocolate and raisin, is compact and dense. Feet on ground wine, the flavour is big and solid, the tannins ripe. Prune style flavour from the ripeness, marked contrast to 2004. Handles its power well. Cask of 15° tasted. 2032-34. April 2006

2004

(cask) full, nicely dark robe, without excess forcing. Refined nose with filling of suave black fruits, bonny. Rich start, with moderation. The core fruit is cleanly struck, the wine is refined and wide on the finish which is pure and very clear. A Burgundian style as this vintage has encouraged, plenty of charm and purity, lovely elegance. Good length, classic wine. The tannins and oak add dark flavours to it. Esp 2009 on. 2028-31 April 2006

2001 ()

start of turn on the top of the red robe; the nose is interesting – the outer air denotes evolution, via some damp and tangy red fruit, but within there is a sound layer of black fruit, a secure couch. Smoke and prune, herbs – this is a good, typical and varied Syrah nose, the real deal. The evolution picks up again on the palate – it is now into a virile, game phase with prune and black fruit present, followed by an appealing, sustained roundness. Pretty wine, that ends on a floral note. 2027-30 June 2008 Previously *** damp, bit vegetal nose, some peony topping. Earthy, mid-weight wine. Elegant, lot of ripe crop here, soft feel. Oily finish. I`d like a bit more scale, robustness. 2005 on. 2025-28

2000 ()

(cask) very dark; black cherries, nice depth of aroma; plump cherry/cassis on palate, then sleek tannins. Pepper touches. Feminine style of Hermitage, shows the elegance possible here. Nice length of black fruit. Especially 2006-07. 2014-19

1999 ()

tightly packed, black fruit and olives aroma, harmonious. Really good, assured content on palate. Cool black fruit, bits of tar and berried fruit. Very elegant. Good end tannins. Funky wine. 2027-30

1979

then called Le Méal, made by father Henri Sorrel: good lustre, well-sustained mature red. Coffee, cocoa on nose, pleasing rounded, warm surround, touch of medicine. Complex palate, early dash of flavour, berried fruit. Still tight-knit, tannins evident, nice length. Lovely wine. 2008-11 July 1999 Previously September 1992 ***** bit grainy on colour, some rust. Lovely depth on nose, complex - dried tones, fruit aromas together. Very wide on palate, possesses startling richness. Great length. A southern do - lovely richness. Another 10-15yrs. Delicious. Some alcohol showing through.