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The Wines

SSyrah, 50% domaine crop, 50% bought-in wine, 70% from Diognières (1976), 30% from Le Méal (1970) (2004-mid-2010s was 70-85% Diognières, 15-30% Le Méal), destemmed, 4-week concrete vat vinification, pumping overs, a little cap punching, malo completed in oak, since 2013 aged 15% new, 85% 1-2-3-4 year 600-litre oak casks 12 months, then all concrete vat raised 6 months (before 2013 all oak cask raised 16-18 months, then vat 2-3 months), unfined, filtered, organic, biodynamic wine, 3,500-4,200 b

2018 ()

(vat, bottling March 2020) dark red; sunny filling in the bouquet, a sense of warmth in the red fruit paste, jam. The palate is grounded, solid, rather stubborn, unyielding, carries vintage weight. It persists with a little squeeze out of thick juice, is under wraps, subject to the low pressure and rainstorms of the past two days, was clearer last week. The tannins need three year to refine. The length is sound.  It can move to *** by 2026 or so. From 2023. 2039-41 Dec 2019  GB £192/6 b in bond The Wine Society +44(0)1438 741177 https://www.thewinesociety.com/openingoffer/Overview.aspx?offercode=wrh181

2017 ()

(casks) dark red robe. The bouquet carries oak smoke above a stretch of black berry fruits that travels across the glass. It hasn’t yet gained its proper depth. There’s a little animal air lurking in back. The palate gives fruit that sparks in places, continues pretty safely along its route, bearing some low-key depth of gras richness. It’s not an especially complex or demanding Hermitage, will evolve in a steady, unspectacular manner. There’s enough juice to keep on top of its tannins that for now assert from the mid-point. Decant it if drinking it under 10 years’ old. From 2022. 2041-43 Jan 2019 GB £175/6 b in bond Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com/rhoneep +44(0)1438 741177

2016

(casks, bottling Apr 2018) full red robe. Reserved nose, but has quiet style and will please: a neat air of raspberry, mulberry, not yet varied. The palate is soft, medium weight, bears a red-fruited gras that comes with flexible tannins, ensuring a rounded close, where a flash of red juice is encouraging. It’s on the back foot today, and not really ensemble. It can reach **** over time; from 2021, not before. 14°.  2032-35 Nov 2017 GB £165 6 b i/b https://www.sundaytimeswineclub.co.uk/jsp/content.jsp?pg=rhone16

2015

(casks) very full robe. The nose serves a beef stock, dark, prune and blackberry aroma, a light hint of flowers – this is a properly muscular Hermitage bouquet. The palate links well to the nose, gives sturdy content with a line of freshness towards the finish. This takes no prisoners, speaks loudly about its place, rests on black berry fruits, thick skins involved, blueberry, blackcurrant. The close is munchy, lots to get into there. This is very good, gets me going, is STGT wine. From 2020 – no hurry. “Diognières has done an important job this year in restraining Le Méal,” Damien Brisset. 2036-39 Oct 2016 GB Fine & Rare Wines £376 12 b i/b www.frw.co.uk customerservice@frw.co.uk +44(0)207 089 7400

2014

(casks) dark colour; the nose has style, is wide, safely embedded with fine black berry fruit, mild notes of licorice, shows some grilling. The palate builds in intensity, producing tannins of some strength after the early tune of blackberry and violet. Solid, genuine Hermitage with some of the hill’s fire in its veins. From mid-2018. 2027-29 GB £143/6 b in bond Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com Oct 2015 

2013 ()

(casks) dark robe. There is an attractive floral hover over a clear air of black berry fruit, slight chalky notes, on the nose. The palate is medium weight, with a set of modest tannins. It seems to come and go rather quickly, and doesn’t have the depth and length of the 2013 leaders. Has a mild finish , is a bit dilute. From mid-2016. 2024-25  GB £155/6 bots in bond The Wine Society +441438 740 222 www.thewinesociety.com Jan 2015

 

2012

(casks) dark, full, good looking robe. Oak, tar grilling feature above a squelchy ripe fruit air, has a nicely liqueur style aroma of dark berries. The palate sets off on its adventure with abandon; it holds free, unbridled fruit, the texture nicely oily, the content carefree. The finish is round, rather rich, still on its oak. Fun Hermitage, no coy behaviour. Serve it in a large glass, enjoy. It is a juicy, “Right Bank” style of Hermitage, one that lacks a little depth, gravitas. Marks for uncomplicated enjoyment. From 2016 will be open and on the go. 2025-26  Nov 2013

2011 ()

(casks) rather dark. The bouquet is quite deep, led by ripe black cherry with a hover of smoke and licorice. The palate goes for elegance, ends up a little half way house wine – it could be deeper and more sustained, especially after the half way mark along the palate. Almost a “Pinote” style of Hermitage. The tannins are ripe, gummy, and dusty stones come through on the aftertaste, which is clear enough. Has its subtleties. From 2015. Decant this. 2024-26  Nov 2012

2009 ()

(casks) dark robe that is thorough, shiny. Steady aroma of black jam, blackberry coulis, has a little nutty siding to it. Does not have the nuance of the top climats. The palate gushes – there is a bit of a whirlwind of black fruit, all in a ball, then it quietens. A regular guy Hermitage, not noble. Has gras to live and evolve. From 2013, but especially 2015 on. 2023-25 Nov 2010

2008

(casks) fair red robe; smoky top air – there is a little depth in the nose, a light tremor of black jam, a bit of green oak and vanilla: the bouquet is mild. The oak encases a quite clear trail of black fruit which has purpose about it, is lucid towards the finish, and the oak is not overdone. Not bad juice in the fruit. No big structure or depth, but does just about OK. From late 2011. 2018-19 Dec 2009

2007 ()

(casks) full, dense robe; has a broad aroma – violet with treacle or toffee, apple baked in brown sugar, and blackberry fruit lying at its centre. The palate starts cautiously: the black fruit is soundly defined, and lengthens into a live, crisp end. There is a mineral line running through this, while the fruit and its juiciness are apparent until the finish. This is on a sound path if all goes well until and after bottling. 2021-23 Dec 2008

2006

(vat, pre-bottle) dark, full robe; there is a savoury black fruit aroma – plus the sweetness that the malo in oak can bring – so it veers towards black jam with a little pepper. The palate black fruit is in the soft, rather sappy, aromatic zone. The late tannins are ripe. The flavour towards the end is black cherry jam, with grain from the oak. A flattering style of Hermitage. From mid-2009. 2019-20 Jan 2008

2005 ()

quite a full red with matt in the tone. There is a square shape to the bouquet – red fruit with a nutted air – it is firm for now, but there is minor soft point like a coulis of blackcurrant. The palate has a silken texture at the start, has been polished by its preparation. It shows some mid-late palate punch – black fruits that are persistence appear before its tannins grip, just as they should in 2005. An orderly wine, with sound progression through the palate. The tannins mean it should be left until 2010 or so. 2019-20 Jan 2008

2004 ()

crème de cassis, direct aroma, with some high tone, black berries and tar also. Juicy, suave style on attack, pepper and overt tar that goes as far as a burn on the aftertaste. Clean fruit, but a bit one-dimensional in scope and variety. Lesser zone Hermitage, is correct, without inspiration. Esp 2008-09 on. 2018-21 April 2006

2002

(cask) mid colour; lightly toasted, strawberry fruit aroma, more fungal with air. Easy red fruit palate, not real depth. Discreet tannin, ends tar/licorice. Gains oiliness, oomph after 90 mins. The lesser sites on show. Esp 2007. 2012-14 February 2004 Previously (also cask) *** tender nose, floral/red fruits; nicely supple texture, quite warm fruit, decent depth/purity. 2006 on. 2013-15

2001

pretty, open/sappy red fruits nose, direct. Cosy attack, broad, lacks some scale. Decent chewy, pepper end. 2005 on. 2013-15

1996

Cuvée des Miaux on label: maturing red robe. Earthy, suave style in the aroma, reflects the mid-easterly rather than westerly side of the hill; the bouquet sustains quite well, comes with a cool note and a little rose-floral aspect. The palate is fragrant, presents a red jam flavour with a little life; not a big wine – its components are lightly tacked together. It is edging towards fungal, advanced moments on the finish, though there is also raspberry fruit and peppery touches from the fresh vintage there. Not bad cut in this. 2015-17 Nov 2005, New York