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The Wines

1940s and 1960s Syrah from Le Méal & the end of Greffieux where the soil is still that of the east of Bessards (hence the title of the wine), the crop from the two climats assembled at harvest time, whole bunch fermentation, 18-21 day vinification, cap punching, pumping overs, aged 1-10 year 600-litre casks 18-20 months, with the occasional new 600-litre cask used (2016), unfined, light filtration, “first made by accident in 2005, not in 2006, then from 2007 onwards because my clients asked for it,” has a gold capsule, 2,400-3,000 b


(600-litre cask, 60% Bessards, 40% Méal) bright, dark robe; the nose is reduced, peppery, raw, but carries stylish intensity, real concentration of red fruits, is wide, sustained, has a heartbeat of sun. The attack is engaging, a Méal flourish there – this rocks on, has plunging depth and moves fully throughout, captures the imagination, is really full of beans, is Grand Vin with blood-iron, lots of stimuli, is very racy, vivid. In many ways, the two major contributors carry their own micro-climates. It would have been sent straight off to Bordeaux in the nineteenth century to act as the Doctor. “My grandfather put Grand Ordinaire on his labels of Hermitage in the 1930s,” Bernard Faurie. 2058-61 Dec 2019


(1-year 600-litre cask) this was harvested six days after the Greffieux-Bessards harvest: bright, full red colour. Has a floral, clear raspberry fruit aroma, really comfy fruit, a bit of pepper, also reduction. The palate springs out well, is a classic Hermitage led by Méal for now – there is plunging depth from that source, and a long life ahead beckons, Bessards coming though over time. This is excellent, offers spectacular truth from two of the Big Three climats. It’s extremely long, ends in concentrated fashion. “It’s good, balanced. Méal brings its nobility, and enlarges and improves the wine. It’s 14.5° - nowadays you can make balanced wine at 14.5°; before it was 13.5° for balance. Nature adapts, the yeasts have adapted, and the wines can handle 14.5° without destabilising,” B Faurie. I would set this aside until 2026. 2052-54 Dec 2018

2017 ()

very dark red, a full centre. The bouquet shows threads of salt, black olives, has a butty, wall-like assertion; there are little shafts of black fruit, blue fruit, cassis. The palate is also dark, firm, grounded, with a robust implant of tannin, a concentrated finish, a bit raw, vegetal plus there. The juice travels kindly on the first half, but the finish is rather abrupt, demanding, chocolatey. Bessards drives the finale with late iron. The loss of 25% of the crop you feel in its density, its overt concentration, the thick skinned harvest. Now ****, but from 2025 it may ascend to ****(*). “It’s very tight-knit”, Bernard Faurie. Bottled 25 Oct 2019 – the malo took a long time. 2052-54 Dec 2019 Previously Dec 2018 ****(*) 1) (used 600-litre cask, the malo not yet completed!) full, dark red robe. The nose bears a blackberry aroma with sunny ripeness, is governed by the fat of Méal, while the top note is cooler from Bessards. There’s definite southern leaning in its ripeness. The palate serves a rich roll of black fruits, cherries/berries, ample tannins attached. This is wine of scale, near OTT (Over The Top); there’s a big pile of tannin inside it. Red blood notes run along the palate, with Bessards exercising some control, thankfully. Leave this eight years – the longer, the better for more calm drinking. “The tannins and alcohol have blocked the malo,” B Faurie. 14.5°. 28-30 years. This will be blended with 2) Greffieux-Bessards, the second cask of it: (used 600-litre cask, the other cask, crop harvested three days after the first – there wasn’t time to do it all in one day) ****(*) dark red; there’s a rounded blackberry aroma, some oak-caramel, a sturdy start. The palate shows oak on the attack, is full, layered, the tannins thicker than the previous cask. It’s compact, suppressed, with touches of blood-iodine [the Bessards influence] through it. It asserts and takes off on that in a running close. This is interesting, will complement the first cask well. This will be a marriage of equals. “It has more density than the first cask,” B Faurie. 13.8°. From 2023. 2043-46 Dec 2018


this was a second bottling, from July 2018: dark, sustained red colour. Red meat droplets, red berry intensity on the nose, cherry fruits – it’s appealing, explosive, inviting. There is nice loose-limbed flow along the palate, trim red fruits with polished tannins, notes of iron clarity-ping, accumulating its juice well on the finish. It’s moving to Pinot associations (ça Pinote) near the finish, has elegance, the finesse of Hermitage here, way to go. It has a tinkling, crystalline appeal, is very beau, natural, holds the most dainty fruit, charm – all very 2016. Burgundy lovers will adore this. There is a late touch of mineral on the aftertaste. From 2023. 2048-50 Dec 2019 Previously Nov 2017 **** bottled two days ago, a 720 bottle lot for the Cornas Marché, has been raised in new oak: deep red. There is a stylish mix of oak and raspberry, red berry and red cherry on the nose, which has a sweet note from the oak. It’s not yet varied at all. The palate bears cosy gras richness, led by raspberry with squeezy tannins. I find this away from Hermitage in style for now. It is elegant, has stuffing, but not the precision of Bessards-Méal from the cask. Its texture is squeezy over silken. The finish is round, quite dense from the oak. “It will come back post filtration,” B Faurie. From mid-2019. 2042-44 Nov 2017


a bottle tried chez Mangevins at Tain was No Rating: this is wrong, dries early on the palate, has animal notes on the nose, chocolate, not a goer. Dec 2019 Previously Nov 2017 ***** dark red. Raspberry liqueur, a thick red fruit coulis aroma leads the nose, with licorice, a hint of rosemary and soaked red cherries or griottes. The palate is led by Le Méal via a broad and quietly fat attack, and a smooth and assured texture that runs till a late aggregation of crisp, tangy tannins. This, like the Greffieux-Bessards-Méal 2015, has very clear, detailed tannins that are really in focus. It holds a thread of darkness, tar, mineral. It will be handsome, feeding in equal measure from the contrasts of its two sources. “It’s a beau marriage, Bessards with the vertebral column, Méal the nobility,” B Faurie. 60% Bessards, 40% Méal. Bottled April 2017. From 2023. 2044-46 Nov 2017

2014 ()

(used 600-litre oak cask) dark red. Raspberry coulis, beau debut bouquet with curvy appeal, fine grain fruit. It is a clear and striking nose. The attack is bold, holds strength from within, is darker than the Greefieux-Bessards blend this year. It has some ground force, tarred tannins. It develops a close-knit content on the end, with lingering, small pockets of juiced fruit and sparked tannins. High quality and good character. “This is noble, thanks to Méal,” Bernard Faurie. 2035-37 Dec 2015 Previously Jan 2015 ***(*) (600-litre oak cask, harvested after the rain) sound dark red. The nose shows reduction, some vegetal airs, red berries and licorice – it is promising, though. The palate fruit is lively, with a pleasing mid-palate juice and a gras that travels past half way helpfully. Has stylish width, and good, drinkable qualities. It is fresh on the finish, with some content there. From 2018-19. 2033-35  Jan 2015


(used 600-litre oak cask, 60% Bessards, 40% Méal) steady, quite full red. Has an attractive, widespread aroma of good, sound depth. It accumulates its dark red fruit in gradual pockets, the red berry fruit “glistening” within it. There is an immediate greeting of a firm handshake – this holds a good layering of cherry fruit which has lift. It ends on a floral, upwards note. It has muscle and style, is a tasty wine that persists with determined elegance. “The Bessards is the masculine influence, the Méal the nobility,” Bernard Faurie. From 2019. 2040-43 Jan 2015


bright dark red; grilled, smoked first aroma, backed by a good depth of berry fruit, just a little vegetal presence, too, as well as a lead pencil angle. This is tangy wine, fed on cassis fruit, with notes of menthol developing as it goes. The exit is very clear. The tannins have a wiry content, and inner strength. Patience is required here: drink from 2018. It is intricate more than obvious, so decant it. The length is pretty good, the fruit expressive. 2037-39  Jan 2015

2011 ()

(used 600-litre oak cask, bottling March 2013) nice dark red. Really attractive, floral and red fruit aroma of great appeal and “come hither” – it shows cherries at its heart, and is deep enough to have mulled, liqueur instincts. There is good grain in the palate, the fruit at its centre concentrated, reflecting Le Méal at its heart – the Méal steps it up a gear and broadens it, gives it tasty appeal, attractive indeed. It ends on fine snap tannin, crunchy dust. The finish is certain, pretty concentrated and determined. From 2016 or so. 2035-38 Nov 2012  Previously Nov 2011 ****(*) (used 600-litre oak cask, sugars finished) pretty red; blackberry, fine air, a nutty graininess within the nose and more obvious fat than the 2011 Greffieux-Bessards. The palate is a precise, careful affair, again in the Burgundian style, shows wee Pinot influences. This is a slow-burn vintage, a gradual gainer and evolver. Has good grain, is measured, and fine, powdery tannins inhabit the end, where the feel is fresh. Classy, good origins here – a wine for connoisseurs, not label buyers. “It is clear, has pure fruit, be patient. 2008 was also Pinoté, marked that way,” B.Faurie. From 2016. 2034-36 Nov 2011


(used 600-litre oak cask, 60% Bessards, 40% Méal) full red, a bit darker than the Bessards-Greffieux, legs down glass. Red cherry, mulberry fruit air that is out and about, comes with some pepper-spice seasoning, is nicely dark in nature. Good Méal-forward fruit on the palate, and then Bessards takes up the baton, so we have stylish, fat fruit, then graphite. Very good, a really taking assemblage of these two noble climats. It ends with fresh, decisive qualities, and the fruit remains true and snappy. Pretty, classy wine, yes indeed. The fruit tickles away at the palate. From 2016. 2039-42. 3,000 b Nov 2011


(600-litre oak cask, but notable that it hasn't yet done its malolactic fermentation) another full red. Has a brooding nose, and has not yet released its fruit – what lies within is red, dark, inky. The palate is tight, not expressive. Shows a little front of mouth acidity, as well as nerve and grain. But it has gras richness within, there is good heart. Length is good. Capable of being the best of his three 2009 Hermitages. “There is wine here. I worry that while the malo has not been done, the volatile acidity could rise – if that doesn`t occur, it will be super,” B.Faurie. 14.2°, which should mean V.A at a max of 55-60. From 2014. 2036-38 Nov 2010 Previously Nov 2009 ***** (600-litre oak cask, given a dose of SO2 10 days ago) very bright, big robe; reductive, expansive, rather sweet nose – ripe and round. The palate holds full fruit, has a sweet, comely nature with pretty ripe tannins encircled around it. Has a good, sustained finish, and really good tannins. “There is certainly wine here – it is complete, and there is continuity along the palate,” B.F. I find it similar to 1999 – Bernard agrees. It touches 14°. From 2014. 2033-36 Nov 2009


(600-litre oak cask) fair depth of red; reductive front air, with marked licorice and a red cherry jam aroma behind, and a firm surround that includes oak. The oak is present more on the palate than expected – it stiffens the red fruit, but there is juice in this. “The oak will be less on the final wine – this is a younger 600-litre cask for just a part of it,” B.F. From 2013. I find the classic cuvée for Britain – Greffieux, Méal, Bessards – has more charm. 2026-28 Nov 2009


bright purple. Chocolate-raisin, cocoa mineral aromas here – it is slightly sweet, wide and well-filled. The palate is similar to the nose – it is compact, quite sturdy, has no tannic digression, is more solid than the “British” cuvée, which is more en finesse – needs leaving until 2013. Wide, rather firm, unyielding finish. This needs time to come out of itself, but it is very pure. 13.2° - the other 2007s are 12.8°. 2032-34 Nov 2009

2006 No Rating



decent robe, bright and quite full. Has a raspberry aroma that dances nicely, shows black fruits, flowers. Its richness creeps up handsomely – this is beau vin with a classic structure. It is refined, clear wine with very good, discreet gras. The finale is juicy, very promising, its tannins ripe. Great balance here – it is very classy, is a classic Hermitage. “There are grands vins and lesser wines in 2005 – it is an irregular vintage,” Bernard Faurie. From 2009-10 but can be drunk earlier thanks to its fruit and balance. The usual cuvée of Le Méal wasn’t produced this year, and went into this wine. 2033-36  April 2006