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The Wines

1960s Syrah from the eastern hill part of Le Méal, alluvial soils, has a curve in the land, so doesn’t suffer from drought conditions, can have 10% whole bunch fermentation (2018), 3 week vinification, pumping overs, cap punched, malo in oak, aged 25-30% new, 70% 1-2-3 year oak casks which are 67% 228-litre, 33% 600-litre 15-18 months, unfined, filtered, 120 magnums, 1,700 b to 2,400 b

2018 ()

(cask, bottling Apr 2020) dark red; the bouquet is sturdy, filled, below decks today, has a ripe raspberry, mulberry heart. The palate is robust, with wide shoulders, reaches out with a firm, slightly sparked length. This is very solid, unyielding, a manly wine indeed. It requires five years, patience. It flirts with the heat-drought of the year towards the finish, via dried fruits there, with very intense juice. Thorough, firm Hermitage here, touches of oak on the close. Decant it. Just ****(*). From 2024. 2046-48 Dec 2019

2017 ()

(cask) dark red robe; the nose is sleeping, but sleeping well, has a mass of cooked red fruits, a stylish density, not quite jam, as its front runner. There is aa savoury, pork notion as well. It is broad and assured bouquet, can blossom. The palate serves a tasty, fulfilling roll of rich matter, raspberry present, with thick tannins that upholster the second half. It achieves a satisfying coolness, which is testament to its terroir and the depth of the old vine roots. The genuine depth given by Le Méal is once more a winner. This is seriously prolonged wine. From 2023. 2044-47 Feb 2019

2016

(cask) dark red, thorough robe. The nose has strength from within, a toffee density, red fruits closely packed, and holding up well. Not much chink of light in its thickness. The palate is excellent, right away the moderated elegance of Méal comes forward, puts a smile on my face. The content is delivered in gentle, persistent waves, caressing the palate. The tannins build gradually into a well sealed, thorough close, some darkness there. Very well orchestrated and typical STGT Méal from a quieter vintage. Will be great in magnum. 14°. From 2022. 2039-42 Nov 2017 GB £295 6 b i/b https://www.sundaytimeswineclub.co.uk/jsp/content.jsp?pg=rhone16

2015

(cask) very dark – black with purple. The nose is crunched, close-knit – gives oaking and sun rays, has real inner strength. It is wide and deep, very sustained. The palate is sealed hermetically, with drive in its content. Its richness is profound, the tannins bold, ripe. It is on a different scale to the Dionnières 2015 – a blend of the two would be good. The palate is über thorough, but has precision – a tribute to its place. It has a very steady run, is consecutive. It is remarkable that it has retained freshness, shape, balance after all the ripeness of the vintage. Bravo for this very good, STGT wine. It has a lot of class, is a Rolls Royce – acceleration with no sound. Then I did a blend of the two, 50% each, just to see! The nose is soft, nuanced, has an air of cassis, a lovely freshness. The palate is silken, carries cosy gras with big build towards the finish. Diognières shows first, then Méal: Diognières on the nose, a kind curve there. This blends hit the line with max vigour. It would live for 25 years, easy. Back to Le Méal 2015: From 2021. 2040-43 Oct 2016

2014 ()

(casks) dark red. Has a super Méal, broad fronted aroma; it really mixes well style and substance, has a joli depth and elegance of red berries, raspberry coulis, and a good duo of bacon and primroses. The palate shows genuine Méal gras richness. Its tannins are very well absorbed and fit snugly. Its red fruit juice is fine, and there are toffee notes from the raising on the finish. It persists well, has good Hermitage inner content. From spring 2018. 2030-32  Oct 2015

2013 ()

(casks) dark, full robe. It has an up front bouquet, with speckly mineral top airs, rather supple black fruit below, hints of coffee. The palate runs consistently, has the medium weight of the centre zones. It finishes roundly, with a little swirl of fruit there, and a glow of quiet power. It is pretty open in style, will be ensemble around 2017. 2033-35  GB £264/6 bots in bond Berry Brothers 0800 280 2440 +44(0)207 022 8973  www.bbr.com Jan 2015

2012

dark, deep red. Has a muscular bouquet, a brooding presence: it is packed with berry fruit and delivers notes of entrails, gummy reduction, a rugby scrum, images of damp forest here as well. The nose still has ways to go. Texture - its rich oiliness - is the first impact on the palate; this has every move covered, is a real criss-crosser of the palate. There is proper Hermitage depth and “fire”, blood in its veins, and extensive length, some low-key oaking. STGT Hermitage. Its quite punchy ending is true, as well. It evokes George Saintsbury’s description – it is manly, dark, complete wine. From 2018. 2034-36 Dec 2014 Previously Nov 2013 ****(*) (casks) dark robe. Oily blackberry aroma with oak traces, subtle areas in the bouquet, has an air of raw fruit, gives visceral thrusts, brooding power, is well orchestrated. There is a more West end of the hill take in this wine (tasted blind): it has fine grain, dark tar-mineral touches, and an appealing floral note towards the finish. I like its precision. No hurry, calm wine, with a genuine Hermitage feel and construct. It is long, and its fruit is polished. From mid-2016. 2033-35  Nov 2013

2011

(casks) dark colour. Blackberry fruit leads a big bouquet, with a tar-licorice close association, a bubble of black fruit there that is on the “up”. The palate is lined by ripe fruit, has flexible tannins that keep it moving, leading to more baked notes, black raisin, Dundee cake. It has a good heart of Hermitage style , suggesting Diognières or Le Méal (tasted blind). Be patient here. A wine of a certain power that glows on the aftertaste. From 2016. Decant this. 2032-34  Nov 2012

2010

(bottling in six months) full, dark robe. Beyond its first smoke-oak air lies a serene, wide sunbeam of black fruit, polished and consistent. The palate is locked in, mixing clear, upright notes with agile, “sparkling” fruit that has lots of dance in its step. Bonny potential, with the snap of 2010 at its heart. Has discreet, grainy length. A rather stiff and oaked Méal, but has definite poise and style. From 2016. 2035-37 Feb 2012

2009 ()

(casks) full robe; oily, high, mulled red fruits, a sunswept air to this bouquet, has a liqueur style, with a little mint present. Fat start to the palate, has considerable width, is broad and fleshy, is sweetly juiced It ends on gras, has a large scale roundness. A big, circular offering in the mouth. There are, for now, dry, powdery tannins at the end. It needs to absorb, is a shade disjointed. From 2014. 2030-32 Nov 2010

2006 ()

quite a dark red; the nose displays some supple red fruit airs, a little raspberry, with earthiness present. There is also an aroma of quite bright black cherry, licorice and charcoal-oak. The palate gains an intense nature soon after its red fruits attack. It ends on oak which is apart from its body. This is a sinewed Méal, with a punch in its belly. It ends tightly for now. It is more robust, and “rustic” than the Chapoutier Méal – extraction hovers. From 2012. 2028-30 Dec 2008 Previously Jan 2008 ***(*) bright black plum robe; has a meaty, fleshy black fruits bouquet that comes with outcrops of pepper – it will vary well as it ages. The palate holds black fruit with evident tar towards the finish – there is a rich core. The black berry fruit has movement in it, and definite late tannins mingle with fresh, dark fruit. The tannins and the oak mean it should be left until around 2011. 2026-28 Jan 2008

2005

markedly dark robe that is full and promising. There is genuine depth in the black fruits on the nose, and it also has the surround to suggest a beautiful year; there is meat, and a smoky black cherry here as well. There is good direction in the black fruit on the palate, with a lot of tannin all through. One for the connoisseurs, not the passers-by, given its young, dry tone now. It is rich along its sides, the interior is well-founded. “Dark wine” – be patient. Very concentrated, very intense example of what Méal can do in a more tannic, ripe year. From 2011+. 2028-30 Jan 2008

2004

full, matt, dark plum robe. Prune-leather-floral combo on nose, soft charm set to develop, with underlying earthiness. The black fruits are well set on palate, leave a spice-licorice impact late on. The oak stamp gains with air. Upright now, as expected, but it also does not possess profound richness. Track its evolution carefully: the tarry, oaked finale is a worry. Maybe between 2009 and 2014 best. 2022-24 April 2006

2003 ()

(cask) inky, chocolate, replete bouquet, upright, a touch extracted. Lots of black fruit, then oak on palate. Big content, can take the oak. Granite-style firmness here, with good core. Hope it will gain more angles, variety as it ages. 2008-09 on. 2025-27

2001

thorough, oily-fungal, game aroma; well integrated fruit, rich wine. Nicely wild, fresh prune style flavour, smoky. 2008 on. 2025-27

2000 ()

Ripe fruit, burnt aromas, earthy, brewed side. Good hit of stewed fruits on attack, wild berries. Tar traces, a macerated flavour. Length OK, oak present. Tannins refined. Grilled with air, then recovers. Quite rich finale if you wait. Esp 2006 on. This was acidified by Michel Ferraton. 2024-26