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The Wines

Syrah 50% from Les Murets (1981-82, sandy, stony, limestone), 50% from Les Diognières (1950s, clay-limestone, sandy, stony), harvested in 300-350-litre boxes, crop overnight at 8°-10°C, 50% destemmed by oscillation, not usually destemmed, no crushing, 5 week vinification, wild yeasts, pumping overs, lot of cap punchings, aged 40-50% new, 40-50% 1-year, 10-20% 2-year 228-litre oak casks 24-26 months (new oak down from 70% in late 2000s, until 2005 was aged 22 months), unfined, unfiltered, organic wine, 3,000-4,000 b

2015 ()

shiny, dark robe. The nose has a ripe and rounded shape, bears supple, deep airs of black berry fruits; one can note the sweet inlay from the ripe crop. There is a hover of pine-oak. The palate is tasty, gourmand, silken, well balanced: this is a Greffieux-Diognières style wine with that caress of elegance included (tasted blind). There is a notable precision, and its harmony indicates a handsome, spherical, velvety glass in the future. 13.5°. 4,000 b. From mid-2019. 2031-34 Oct 2016  Previously Apr 2015 ***** (casks) shiny purple-black robe. Life is a bowl of black cherries here - the aroma is curvy, with well entered sweet ripeness. The backdrop hints at menthol, loganberry, notes of herbs. The bouquet will be spherical, profound, engaging. The palate debut is silken, very much on a feline texture. It doesn’t show its inner resources until the finish, where there is a charge of intensity, via red meat, blood, graphite and tar. No footsteps out of place here. It is truly consistent along the palate, the length good. There is lots of bounty on the close. “It shows very much the blood side of the Syrah – it was like that from the start, and shows the very fine side of Hermitage,” Philippe Belle. From 2021. 2035-37  Apr 2016

2014 ()

(from four different casks, bottling Aug/Sept 2016) shiny dark red robe. The nose has a graceful leaning, mixes raspberry and smoke, some black berry density. There is a little red meat within, a lurk of cassis. There is attractive elegance here – red fruits, raspberry foremost, with supple tannins inside. Oak closes it. Its fine tune tannins are right in step., and there is a pocket of tasty late juice. Suave wine that could have a shade more mid-palate weight. “The yields were low this year, and we co-fermented the two plots. Les Murets can be one week ahead of Les Digonières,” Philippe Belle. From 2019. 2027-28  Apr 2016

2013

(casks) dark colour. Black cherry, streamlined fruit on the nose, a note of varnish from its oak; it has a decisive clarity. The palate is modern, a little clipped or arm’s length, but it will provide a good Hermitage over time. The dark red berry fruit and cassis fruit sets off well, but the mid-palate is bit hollow. The fruit is on the back foot as it closes, perhaps from extraction. From mid-2017 to shrug off some late oak. 13.5°. 2026-27  Jan 2015

2012 ()

(casks) dark robe; the nose is closed, suggests a calm air of black berry, can become serene. It has light licorice and dust, precise notes. The palate is also compact, the fruit rather compressed for now. There is a slow take-up of grip, dusted tannin. The outer is rectangular, the inner rather round. It has hardly left the starting gate; doesn’t have great depth, is typical 2012 in that sense, but may amplify a touch. From late 2015. 2026-27  Nov 2013

2011 ()

dark red; bosky, pine, tar airs hover above its berry fruit aroma, which has strength and implies granite in the mix - it exudes that spark. The palate is framed by its live tannins, and needs to fill out of that skeleton frame. The shape is upright, the wine fresh. This has a really good, tangy exit, a right old Hermitage snap there that cleans the palate in one go, the fruit seeping most enjoyably in small drops through the tannin wall. Not for the sugar-coated drinkers - the Scandies will love this with their venison. STGT wine, true to its place. 13.5°. From late 2016 or so. 2029-32  Dec 2014  Previously Nov 2012 ***(*) (casks) dark colour. Opulent fruiting on the nose, blackberry most of all, with a sweet, treacle note in it, alongside a roasted air. The palate picks up on the roasting and grilling – it gives a strong mix of oak and tannin, to the extent of being invasive, almost perforating the gums. It has a pitch, vinum picatum, side through its raising that dominates the show today; in behind lies mid-weight black cherry fruit. Late on, more southern, date-like fruits enter. Very raw goods today. From mid-2015. 2024-26  Nov 2012

2010

(casks) full robe with black tints. Inky sort of aroma, sustained black fruit, blackberry, with some oak apparent. Tight, no great charm. Cautious debut to the palate – it bears direct fruit, oak within it, and a sound, solid foundation. The oaking is prominent now. A bit clinical, fair, not doing more than that for now. From 2014. 2024-26 Nov 2011

2009

(casks) full, dark robe. Brooding, oaked nose of scale – it is ripe to the point of showing chocolate, raisin, prune. The fruit is ripe and soaked. The palate is a solid affair, has rich heart, gras and this richness features in its late stages as well. The style of a wine from central areas on the hill – black olives, southern tones, abundance. It lacks a point or two of finesse, but has good matter to keep it going. It closes in on the finish – the fruit gets squeezed by its oak for now, and I am a bit uneasy about that. From mid-2013 or later. 2025-27 Nov 2010

2008 ()

(casks) full, dark robe; overtly sweet air to the nose – black fruits, simmered fruits on the way to being jam, as if sugar added to them. Direct, tangy-aired black fruit attack – the fruit has a little Hermitage depth, is followed faithfully by oak that points its toe, is not yet supple. Fair length, three-quarter depth. Has a charry aftertaste – needs to settle that. From late 2011. 2019-20 Dec 2009

2006 ()

full red robe; restrained nose – its black fruits are lying low, and come with pepper-charcoal airs. There is decent depth on the palate – it bears black fruits with a late note of charcoal from the oak, but also richness. Sound length on this. From 2011. 2022-23 “I always liked 2006 – there is a finesse and elegance in them that 2005 doesn`t have,” Philippe Belle. March 2009 Previously Dec 2007 *** full black robe; reserved aroma, but there is scale to it; shows later picked crop, a cassis and raspberry fruit air, also rose-hip and toffee here – it is very primary, hardly out of the starting gate. Full, plenty wine on the palate – black berries foremost. Shows some pushy oak late on, but has guts, rocks on. Needs to assemble its oak – needs three years for that, so try from 2011. I hope it can assemble, may be a late developer. 2021-23 Dec 2007

2005

full, dark red; the bouquet shows ripe fruit – raisin and prune, with a slight salty tang. The palate holds stylish black fruits – it is moving into shape as its tannins slowly subside. The finish is clear. Ripeness of the crop is evident on the nose, while the palate is “cooler”. Very lucid fruit in this, what a good vintage. 2024-26 March 2009

2004 ()

bright, black cherry robe. Plenty of potential on the bouquet, has a cleanly drawn aroma - black fruits with an an underlay of earthiness, and some high tone touches. Well-defined fruit on attack, suave and compact, as if from centre-east of the hill. Leather-prune mingle on finish. Well-knit, promising, balance is good, oak well handled. In the modern style of a "clean" wine. Esp 2009 on. 2020-22 April 2006

2002 ()

bosky, tangled hedgerow fruit bouquet, a little violet, floral also. Expect damp forest to develop. Peppery fruit on palate, rather straight. Oaked end, is disjointed. Oak is excessive for its limited content. Needs camouflage from food! 2010 On a downward curve on this showing. May 2006 Previously Dec 2004 ** coffee, brewed fruit bouquet, quite dense and meaty. Sinewed black fruit with a cool side, has some flesh, attacks well. Bit burnt at the end, some oak there. Fair length. From 2007. 2014-15 Previously (cask) *** brewed stone fruit/leather nose; prune, mid-warmth, pretty grain. Tender now; decent structure to emerge. 2011-13 May 2003

2001

(cask) toasted, olive, suave fruit aroma; Murets finesse on attack, good ripe juice, length good, some end oak. 2008 on. 2016-18

2000

toasted black fruit/oak nose, will be copious. Stylish, tasty black fruit, is full, authentic, juicy wine. Tannins/length good. Will open well. 2007-08 on. 2015-18

1995 ()

good dimension and potential on bouquet, firm and classy; firm texture, more modern, clean style of Hermitage, has enough body as well. Good length, an upright wine. 2011-14

1994

leather, spice and cooked fruit nose; prune fruit, strong extract, finishes well and chewily. Its power is nicely directed. From 2002. 2012-14

1992 ()

quite warm, fruited bouquet, stylish. Garden not wild fruit. Agreeable fruit flavour, nicely locked together. Cherry fruits. Soft tannins, some end heat. 2004-06

1991

spiced, potent bouquet, good width. Clean extract of fruit, pleasingly full. Lot of flavour, good tannic frame. Runs truly to the finish. 2008-12