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The Wines

100% old and low-yielding Marsanne (early 1900s) from Le Méal, Les Murets, La Croix, fermented, raised 33% new, 33% 1-year, 33% 2-year 400-litre oak casks 12 months with lees stirred (until mid-2010s was 100% new oak), malo blocked, filtered, first wine 2004


yellow robe; the nose is buttery, rounded, a gentle note of peach fruit in the second tier. It’s capable of variety and greater expression over time. The palate is nicely together, works well on its smooth, coated, rolling texture, is typical Hermitage blanc in that respect, with dried fruits, nuttiness present. It needs time to coax out more from its cosy lair, so waiting until 2022 or so will be of interest. Decant it. 2039-42 Nov 2019


marked, full yellow robe; the nose is buttery, on oaking and its grilling, with a fat rump to it, a pile up of guava, apricot, ripe white peach fruit. The palate has a sturdy rolling offer of richness, with cool, cooked lemon tones, saltiness towards the finish. There is a genuine Hermitage texture here, a coating that is typical, and aided by the age of the vines. The aftertaste has nutty tang from the Marsanne, vanilla from the oak. 14°. 2034-36 Dec 2018


sturdy yellow robe; the nose is retreating into its shell, but is full and promising, well layered. There’s a grilled white meat air, perhaps a touch of quince plum fruit. The palate is fat and wide on the debut, holds its ground well, is tasty and fulfilling, mixes ripe fruit, white raisin, apricot flavours with an on cue arrival of Marsanne coolness, tang, near spearmint on the close. 14°. From 2021-22. It will show very well in a large glass. 2034-36 Dec 2018 Previously Nov 2017 **** steady yellow robe. The nose sits quietly, perhaps still under its August 2017 bottling. There is a brioche baked bread, peanut, cooked lemon, smoky presence, the smoke associated with its oaking. The palate has a measured richness, a flavour of ginger, a note of petrol in it. It finishes with a steady rounded depth, a note of tannic firmness. It has some inner strength, discreet style, and will hold its shape well as it ages. Decanting advised. 13.5°. From late-2020. 2031-33 Nov 2017

2015 ()

yellow robe. The bouquet centres on peach, cooked lemon, comes with aniseed and airs of infused tea, tilleul or linden, and oak-toasting. It is secure enough to leave some room for mystery. The palate summons interest via its elegant gras richness, with a discreet late grip. It’s a shapely Hermitage blanc made in the New Wave manner, so don’t expect a lot of body and breadth. The aftertaste is fresh, that feature encouraged by carbonic gas, and leaves a note of apricot. 13.5°. 2025-27 Oct 2016

2014 ()

yellow robe. The nose spreads broadly, has a plump white fruits, apricot heart with toasted oak, roasted hazelnuts present. There is a buttery-flan style inlay of depth. The palate is graceful and smoothly textured, always rolling with calm appeal. The flavours aren’t much developed as yet: a little greengage plum, quince fruit, the latter showing the freshness of the vintage. This isn’t a big white Hermitage, but it has its own serenity, and enough body to run for 12-15 years. The finish is a touch quiet. 13.5°. 2026-28 Oct 2015


fine yellow. The nose is reserved, has the vintage’s imprint of style over power: light airs of flan, brioche baked bread, dried apricots feature – it is airborne more than grounded. The palate is stifled, rather limited – I would prefer greater depth, perhaps more degree – waiting for ripeness in 2013 was an option, as exercised by the small domaines. It lacks late palate firepower, grunt. The aftertaste brings in honey, almond, and a tiny spot of succulence. It may gain a little weight if left, but is rather tame as it stands. Drinks easily now, but can show more. Decant. 13.5°. From 2017. 2024-26  Jan 2015 

2012 ()

pale yellow, green smudges. Has a lissom, potentially stylish nose which is under wraps today – there are soft, even floral white fruits airs that lean towards pear, along with nut, peanut from its Marsanne. The palate builds from within: it isn’t showing obviously today, but the heart is good, nicely thorough, has true Hermitage blanc content, without excess forcing in its raising. Has a confident centre. Nut, roasted walnuts, peach and apricot appear in its second register. There are near tannic moments on the finish, a real finish of the south with sustained matter. Therefore drink with lobster, challenging flavours, thick sauce, poulet de Bresse in morille mushrooms, also ace with veal and pork. The finish is a bit dumb, but the content and carry are there. Especially from 2017 for a serious show of its quality, but can be drunk before then, from 2015, say. Decant it. 13.5°. 2027-29  Nov 2013


yellow robe. The first air shows tropical fruit – passion fruit with soft greengage plum behind, pineapple, a good roll of lime, and an undernote of melted butter. The lighter, clearer touches of citrus, lemon curd and ginger help its clarity – all in all, a promising start. The palate is tightly drawn, running more on elegance than strength. There is a flan, banana moment in mid-palate. It has lift, and is just settling into its bottle, so leave until spring 2013 to enjoy its first flourish, that comes with cut and dance -it moves along freely now. The finish brings in fennel, hazelnut, lip or gum-smack oily gras. Good, solid length. Not overdone, a genuine white Hermitage. 14°. 2025-27  Nov 2012


healthy, full yellow robe. The nose is starting to stretch its legs, oak and rich swirls of ripe fruit, gras richness in the air. Airs such as spice, flowers, honey show, and the oak settles in as it airs. The palate is well shaped, has saline late moments, a good blend of suave depth and clarity. The texture is lovely. Sweet spices are coming through. Dried fruits and quince feature in the flavour. The gras richness is effortless, and the palate is very clear. 14°. 2032-35  Jan 2015 Previously Nov 2012 ***** yellow, quite rich robe. Aniseed, quince jelly first aroma – it has commendable brightness, given the big vintage. The bouquet also mixes in spiced hazelnut, plus flan ripeness, a jam or jelly of white fruits such as peach and pear. This is built like a red wine – it is a true, classic Hermitage blanc that takes me back to the 1960s. It is wide and very thorough in its close-knit packing; weight and tannin come through near the finish. Toffee, white raisin, almond paste gather on the aftertaste. Wow – this is some wine. Good with veal, sweetbreads, Asiatic spice dishes – it will not fear many flavours. I like its masculinity – it is as it should be from the Mighty Hill. Has a petrol, firm Marsanne bitter-clenched fist end. 14°. From 2016. 2035-36  Nov 2012  Previously Nov 2011 ***** (casks) even, quite complete yellow robe; big production, toppy, curvaceous shape to the nose – it combines volume and potential. The main features are some damp wool, also salt and marked hazelnut. The palate has a rich, wide start; this is scaled wine, with a big central HQ (Headquarters) to it. It finishes on its oak clad in fat. Acidity is ticking away within, is fine. It has the ozone tang of salt on the finish, more like Roussanne than Marsanne, but that is a tribute to the vintage clarity. It is intricate thanks to its fat and its freshness. It will impress in restaurants, for example with classy fish, chive sauces, light cream, also pork and veal. Real length to it. 2028-29 Nov 2011

2009 ()

2 bottles tasted, 1st bottle corked. 2nd bottle: rich aspect to the robe, sound yellow with plenty of legs. Has brioche, baked bread airs with a salty, nutty snap as well. It delivers the honey-hazelnut of the Marsanne, with delicately included fennel – a snap from that. The palate favours style over power; it holds precise, clear fruit and gives a genuine Marsanne expression, picking up tannin its later stages. It still runs straight down the line with a youthful stiffness. Good gras richness son the second half of the palate underpins it. Good late acidity helps the cut on the finish. From spring 2013. 14°. 2025-27  Nov 2011  Previously July 2010 ***** (casks) some dark tints in the yellow. Apricot and exotic fruits aroma, also vanilla and greengage, some Marsanne tang, aniseed. Good mix on nose. Rich early wave on the palate – this is broad and textured. It rolls along with steady gras richness, the finish is ripe. A power, ripe wine that is southern in nature, holds true fat. Sumptuous, bountiful, very promising. From 2012-13. 2024-27 July 2010


yellow, light pear traces – less rich aspect than the 2007. Has a floating aroma that mixes lime and hazel – it is not profound, is quiet but does tick over, shows baked pastry, vanilla notions. It is more challenging than the palate, possible SO2 here, post-bottling. The palate is “wiry”, lithe – it reflects the touchy maturity of the year, especially if few risks were taken with the crop – ie the crop could have been left longer on the vine, even if that meant less wine. Oak and bitter Marsanne late moments on it. Unformed wine that can make a little progress, but I find it rather pale and fleeting, like me on a bad day, probably. May be more interesting in middle age – is not a youth wine, lacks mid-palate depth. 13°. 2023-25 Aug 2010


comfortable yellow robe, legs, has a rich aspect, a good start. Butter-lime front nose, with very authentic snap and tang in behind – this is broad, but most of all refined, and is accompanied by honey, baked almond pastry tart airs – it succeeds in presenting verve and freshness with depth, and as it warms and breathes after starting at cellar temperature (14°C), a richer, butterscotch air comes across. Tight, drawn-in debut to palate, but the matter is rich, has depth. It ends on a nutty, lime combo. Good, fine acidity here, ends freshly. It is still unfurnished, but will amplify as it ages. I sense a shut-down coming. Has good local feel, and is structured to do well over 18+ years. Its fine-ness is a step forward for the Cave – is a wine of small domaine qualities. Really good around 2015. 13°. 2017-19 Aug 2010 Previously March 2009 ***(*) full yellow robe; has a wide, oily aroma – shows butter-banana, and is full, rounded, but not yet really out and about. The palate texture is supple , lissom ,fleshy. Still compact wine that comes with good Marsanne clarity late on, with a white pepper freedom. The taste rounds up dried, fruits, fennel, while the oak is largely entered within it. There is a lot of wine here. From late 2011. 14°. 2022-24 March 2009


bright yellow, welcoming robe; hazelnut, raisin, nougat aroma that is open and dashing, lemon tart here as well. Rich debut to the palate – lots of fat here; it tightens a shade as it goes, reveals oak, strong toasted oak towards the end, in with some white raisin and nut. A big wine, one that has local attributes thanks to its gutsy fullness. From 2011 for a more integrated, less oaked finish; there is good length, decent late heat - not overdone, says 14° on the label. Bresse chicken, lobster in sauce, Asiatic curry, white cheese – all spring to mind. 2025-27 Nov 2009 Previously Dec 2007 **(*) quite a pretty, mild yellow robe. There is oak trimming to the nose, also honeycomb and beeswax, pineapple, high tone or varnish: overall, it is quite a relaxed affair, though. The palate starts on a bonbon sweets, taut note. Has a clinical, acetate style. It ends on a Marsanne, orange-bitter note, the length OK. There is some richness within, but it is uneven just now. I hope it settles – it may do. Try in 2010. Tasted blind, and when I see how it was from the cask, I darn well hope it settles. Fingers crossed, indeed. 2016-18 on this showing. Dec 2007 Previously June 2007 ***(*) (casks) yellow glints in the robe; the bouquet has a lightly toasted top, with richness underneath it; the main tone now is lime and flowers. There is a nicely refined feel to the palate – a clam richness, with oak fringes. The use of 400-litres may well conduct the wine better than the 228-litre size. This is a three-quarter weight year. Has a biscuity flavour now. There is decent grip and freshness late on, and this gets good marks for elegance before its bottling, fingers crossed etc. Its balance and fruit could mean a good spell post bottling, during 2008, off the bat. 2020-21 June 2007